If you don’t live in the land of pizza, pasta and gelato, you might not be familiar with Fedez. The 27-year old Italian rapper, born Federico Leonardo Lucia, is a multi Platinum award winning artist, with millions of followers across his social media accounts and insane amounts of views on his music videos. He also happens to be engaged to Chiara Ferragni, fashion’s number one influencer according to Forbes. Privately, they're each other's top influencers in life and together they make a formidable Millennial power couple. Thanks to Fedez’s new collaboration with Bershka, he’s making major moves in the fashion world.
As can be witnessed on his Instagram account, Fedez is a streetwear fanatic, claiming at one point during our chat in his hometown of Milan that he possesses Italy’s largest Supreme collection. After rocking streetwear bangers on the daily from the likes of Gucci, Vetements and Balenciaga, it was only a matter of time before he tried his hand at designing.
His “Misunderstood” collection for Bershka combines his affinity for colorful '90s inspired looks while incorporating rap music and his tattoo obsession. Although many people are into the ritual of getting permanently inked with something memory or meaning-laden, Fedez likens getting a tattoo from his favorite artist El Monga to being a modern day Medici-style patron of the arts. “It’s the same, but I’m commissioning the art on my body,” he explains. “For me, it’s like wearing my favorite T-shirt every day.”
El Monga’s distinctive tattoo art is a focal point of the collection, featured in embroidery on the back of Fedez’s favorite piece - a black hooded bomber jacket in cozy fleece. When we spoke, he went on to excitedly pull other items from the rack, saying “every piece is beautiful.” It’s clear Fedez is thrilled that his collection can be worn by everyone, thanks to its affordability and vast quantities fast fashion provides.
“What I’m doing with the collection is maybe not completely new, but we’re offering streetwear that’s authentic and accessible. Streetwear is often an expensive, elite thing, so this is a way of giving the concept of streetwear to everyone.”
Fedez first described his personal style to me as “bipolar” with a laugh, and then proceeded to elaborate on his aesthetic more honestly. “Very colorful and saturated. Now that I’m a bit older, I know exactly what I want.” Although the collection is “misunderstood,” it’s pretty clear that the man isn’t afraid to wear pink and bold prints, and doesn’t take himself too seriously with what he wears, does or says.
Although on the surface his Instagram presence appears quite calculated and even a bit frivolous, Fedez is far more subversive than he seems. His activity on social media has fortuitously unveiled on more than one occasion the corruption and ridiculousness that surrounds Italian politics. The word “rapper” was used in Italian parliament for the first time in history thanks to Fedez, after he was accused of publicly insulting the government on a song he made for a lesser known political party. Prominent politicians even tried to get him fired from his judge position on the Italian version of X Factor.
Fedez also became the first major Italian artist to choose not to work with the monopolising Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE), opting instead to sign with a music publishing startup called Soundreef. Although going independent has not been without its difficulties, he much prefers the transparency and is not afraid to expose the dubious behind-the-scenes politics of the Italian music industry. “This summer, the Minister of Culture sued me because I revealed that his wife works for the SIAE, and he said it wasn’t true. He thought I didn’t have proof. He held a press conference saying he was going to sue me. I made a Facebook video which got something like 200,000 likes showing I had proof, and no one said anything after that.”
As for his music, Fedez was first a punk rock fanatic as a teenager, but was soon intrigued by an underground Italian rapper called Mistaman. “When I discovered rap music, I discovered another form of expression. I love my language. The Italian language is really beautiful. Writing in English is different. It’s easier to rhyme in English, in Italian we have lots of words. It’s difficult but fascinating to rap in Italian.”
Fedez has clearly conquered Italy with his rap music, his playful yet revealing takes on the country’s political situation, and streetwear-savvy fashion sense, but what about the rest of the world? Earlier this year, he connected with T-Pain through a friend of a friend via email about featuring on his song “Senza Pagare” with fellow Italian rapper J-Ax. The music video shoot in Los Angeles was all arranged without confirmation the autotune maestro would actually take part. Despite Fedez’s claim that “all American rappers think Italian rap is shitty,” T-Pain was a fan of the music Fedez sent him, actually showed up to film the video, and proudly shared it on social media upon its release. Not only did the song expose Fedez’s music to English speaking rap fans, it also went six times Platinum in Italy.
With his new Bershka collection, a T-Pain cosign, and as a permanent fixture on X-Factor Italy all with his better half Chiara by his side, it seems it’s only a matter of time before Fedez becomes a pop culture phenomenon of international proportions.
For more of our interviews, read our chat with Mykki Blanco about his new documentary for i-D right here.