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Fashion trends may come and go, but self-love is always in style. In a celebration of identity and creative expression, Lil Nas X has teamed up with UGG and the Pacific Pride Foundation for their #UGGPride Campaign. It’s a new era of his life, says Lil Nas X, who has been pretty busy leading up to Pride — not only has he prepping for his upcoming album, and lined up a performance on SNL, he was also one of the featured hosts of this year’s Pacific Pride “PROUD Prom,” a virtual event with local LGBTQ+ and allied youth from Santa Barbara and the coastal communities of California.
The UGG partnership made sense for him, the two-time Grammy winner says, since he’s always had an eye for style. But the rapper says it was only recently that he fell in love with the art of fashion, and teaming up with UGG was the natural progression of both his career, and his identity. Having previously spoken about the struggles of coming out in the music industry, even as the landscape for LGBTQ+ artists is changing, being an ambassador for Pride with this campaign now feels “pretty great” he tells Rolling Stone.
Along with the ‘PROUD Prom’ (which was sponsored by UGG), the company is also releasing a limited-edition collection of all-gender footwear and apparel in Pride-inspired colors, such as the Disco Stripes Slide (see below). For each pair of Disco Stripe slides sold, the brand will donate $25 to GLAAD, up to a maximum guaranteed donation of $125,000.
Lil Nas X spoke to Rolling Stone about his new collaboration, advice on leaving perfectionism behind, and how this upcoming single is his most real (while still keeping that signature surreal style).
When I think about UGG boots, it gives me a lot of nostalgia for the 2000s. Especially thinking about Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, and the celebrities who wore them at the time. When did you fall in love with fashion?
I fell in love with fashion very much later on in my life. Maybe 2016, 2017-ish? At first I thought to myself, ‘Oh, it’s just clothes.’ [But] now I understand all the art behind it. As far as UGG boots go, I’ve always liked them, even since middle school. But I couldn’t afford them until I got a job.
So is that why you wanted to collaborate with UGG for Pride Month?
I felt like stepping into this new era of my life, of my career and I thought to myself, “this is perfect.” Like, a perfect collaboration, especially with Pride Month coming up. I never saw anything like this happening to me, not even a year ago.
Speaking of your career, you recently tweeted about your upcoming music video for “Sun Goes Down”, where you said you go back in time to visit “A younger version of myself who’s struggling inside, hating himself and doesn’t want to live anymore.” What advice would you give to those who are struggling to creatively express themselves?
Put your best foot forward, and let the rest fall into place. It’s not so much about focusing on perfection. The idea of perfection is very much a facade. I feel like if you do something to the greatest of your ability, that’s already, actually perfect. If that’s the best you can do, if that’s what you choose to put 110% into, it’s there already. You’re there already. It’s not about the idea of perfect where you’re trying to compare yourself to somebody else.
You’ve said before that you’ve had doubts about everything you’ve released in your career, but not with this upcoming single, or the album. What do you think changed for you?
Very much my confidence. And learning that lesson about perfection I just mentioned, about putting my best foot forward. That’s really what I’ve been trying to do with this album. I feel like I’m finally in a good place where we’re putting the finishing touches on it. I feel so happy every time I listen to it, and think to myself, “Holy shit. Like, I created this.” With that being said, I know that I believe in this, I trust in this process. I’m going to give it my all to make sure that everyone on the planet Earth hears this.
You’re extremely detailed, not just in your music, but in your attention to visuals in your music videos. How would you then define your visual aesthetic as an artist?
My visual aesthetic is always changing. But a reoccurring theme in my work would always be Surrealism, or Futurism. I really love to mix reality with imagination—I guess that’s my “thing.” But for [the music video for] “Sun Goes Down,” I kept that kind of feeling to a minimum, because I wanted it to feel very real. But you still have me in a meditative state, where I go to this purple world where it’s like my future and past all existing in one place. I fly through that and go to my past me, and I’m trying to uplift him.
What do you think the future of fashion, or even of queer style, will look like?
[Laughs] I honestly could not answer that. With things the way they are, especially with the internet, everything is changing so much and so quickly. Even just in 24 hours online. Things are just so unexpected that I don’t even think I could imagine what people will be wearing.
Looking back to the past then, is there someone whose creative legacy inspires you?
There’s no one I exactly aspire to be like. But someone who’s style I thought was really great—beyond great, actually, whose style was really interesting was Lady Gaga. Everything she did was very camp, and very much out there, especially at the time.
So are you doing anything special for Pride in a few weeks?
I think I might stop by some parades, if they have them. I might visit some friends, and maybe some other special things I can’t talk about yet [laughs].