“Ain’t nobody f*ckin’ with my clique,” once rapped Kanye West. Staying true to his words, the artist who has compared himself to the likes of Walt Disney and Leonardo Da Vinci has kept himself in good company throughout his almost 20-year career. During Paris Fashion Week 2009, he presented a prime example of squad goals when he posed with Virgil Abloh, Don C, Fonzworth Bentley, Taz Arnold and Chris Julian for this now iconic photo. “We knew we were tourists but we knew that purists needed to sort of see us,” Virgil told Complex last year. “Technically, in those days there were no photographers out front. There were no influencers. There was no one. It was sort of like, ‘Why are you here? You’re not supposed to be in here, but I guess you can come in with security.’” Below we take a look at where Kanye’s clique is now, since taking that iconic pic.
Virgil Abloh’s journey from Louis Vuitton Don’s creative partner-in-crime to the Artistic Director of menswear for one of fashion’s most storied luxury houses is the stuff of legend. With an influence that is undeniable, the in-demand designer continues to deliver with much sought after collaborations with brands like Nike, IKEA, Timberland, Equinox, Evian and Mercedes-Benz and award-winning designs for his Off-White label and of course Louis Vuitton.
Kanye West may have taken his talents to adidas after leaving Nike, but that hasn’t stopped Don C from making waves with the house that Phil Knight built. Yeezy’s old tour manager not only added his flavor to classic silhouettes like the Air Jordan 2 and Nike’s Air Force 1, he also designed a signature shoe called The Air Jordan Legacy 312. He’s also behind the RSVP Gallery boutique and the Just Don brand, which has collaborated with Nicki Minaj, Mitchell & Ness and Timberland.
Taz Arnold’s influence has transcended fashion and music. The eclectic creative has been credited with things like ushering in the snapback wave of the early 2010’s with his TI$A brand and helping make MCM lit again. A creative consultant for Kanye West’s former Pastelle line, Taz was also a part of the Sa-Ra Creative Collective, which crafted tracks for Ye, Erykah Badu, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar and others.
A behind-the-scenes power player on the streetwear circuit, Chris Julian has had his name attached to legendary brands like Fruition Las Vegas and Stüssy. He’s also collaborated with famous friends like Kanye and LeBron James on projects like Ye’s Pastelle and Yeezy lines and the Miami-based boutique UNKNWN.
Long before being touted as a member of Kanye West’s fashionable entourage, Fonzworth Bentley was synonymous with style and grace. An early example of an influencer, the former assistant to Diddy has maintained a pretty impressive career. He’s been a New York Times best-selling author, collaborated with Yeezy and Andre 3000 on his single “EveryBody” and is even credited as a songwriter on the Yeezus tracks “I am a God” and “Black Skinhead.”
Photo via Tommy Ton