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Kanye’s having a good month. Between an awesome video, a career-peak album and a surprisingly lively beef with a former president, he’s crushing just about everything in his path. In the midst of the hitting streak, the chaps at Esquire are rolling out a full-throated endorsement of all things ‘Ye. To hear them tell it, he’s the fashion icon of our times, restlessly sifting through the styles of the day and making it all his own, one look at a time.

It’s a good case…but we’re not buying it. And not just because of his mullet period.

The same things that make Kanye a great musician—the insularity, the insecurity, the standoffish ambition—make him a terrible fashion icon. Sure, he’s pushing the game forward. Sure, he’s pulling off looks no one else would dream of. But he doesn’t seem to be having a very good time doing it.

He’s not the only rapper to dip into high fashion, but with Jay-Z or even Pharrell, you get the sense that they’re wearing what they like—and the rest of the world can take it or leave it. With Mr. West, the stakes are higher, and it warps the whole game. He’s wearing those shutter shades because he wants the world to wear them, and if it doesn’t work in a few months he’ll try something else. He’s carrying all of the anxiety of the fashion industry, with none of the fun.

That makes him great for bloggers, but a terrible model for anyone trying to develop a personal style. You shouldn’t be making trends happen by force of will, even if you’re big enough to pull it off. In the final accounting, we’d put him with the Karl Lagerfelds and André Leon Talleys of the world: great fashion week fodder, but too unhinged to make a difference in the way the men of the world actually dress.

Plus…the mullet. The mullet didn’t help.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom