Lil Uzi Vert's Manhattan hotel room looks like what would happen if a Category 5 hurricane landed a direct hit on Bergdorf's.
Upon entering the room, I nearly trip over a suitcase overflowing with Balenciaga Track runners and Louis Vuitton high-tops. A brand-new Dior saddle backpack sits on a couch next to several unopened Rick Owens boxes, which spill out of pristine Hirshleifers shopping totes. The floor looks like Christmas morning in Aspen—all tissue paper and black Chanel shoeboxes—and on a coffee table Uzi has assembled a mini library of fashion books by the likes of Comme des Garçons and Gucci, which are covered by Visvim trucker hats in approximately six different colorways, tags still attached. In the corner, beside a mound of Goyard bags, is an appropriated bellhop cart that includes, among other things, a floral Marine Serre fleece and a fur striped Y/Project throw blanket for when, I'm told, “Uzi gets cold in the Rolls.”
Not counting the gear stowed in his friends' rooms and the “bag of bags” he requests be brought up at one point, I estimate I'm standing in a pile of at least a half million dollars' worth of fashion.
“Lil Uzi isn't even human. To me he is an Impressionist painter replacing pigments with readymade brands and clothes.” —Virgil Abloh
“Sorry I was late,” Uzi deadpans, as if he were a few minutes behind for a dinner reservation because of subway delays—and not many hours late to a fitting. (It is 10:30 p.m.) “I was shopping.”
Uzi, now 25, is wearing Rick Owens Ramones, slashed-up skinny jeans, and a long-sleeve shirt by Sean Pablo's skatewear line, Paradise. We're there to workshop fits for the following day's shoot, and Uzi wants to show us something he just picked up from Dover Street Market: a black knee-length skirt, covered in zippers and tactical pockets, by avant-garde Japanese label Sacai. He got the matching top too, which looks like a bulletproof vest with shards of black lace erupting from the shoulders. In its entirety, the outfit (from the label's spring-summer 2019 women's collection) resembles a little black dress for the apocalypse. I'm told that this week's haul is a mere blip in Uzi's shopping calculus; since late last year, he has amassed a collection of at least 200 purses and bags.
Being a hypebeast Buzz Bissinger requires a, let's say, reckless abandon when it comes to shopping. “I ain't gonna lie. This is the first time I tried anything on,” Uzi says as he pulls on the Sacai skirt. Uzi's hair, unbraided, sits wildly atop his head like Justin Timberlake's frosted tips. His face tattoos are no longer as vibrant as they were a few years ago, and there are two holes in the center of his forehead, just above his brow, where two rubies used to jut out from his skin. “I never try on shit,” he admits. “If I can't fit in it, I just give it away. In the store, if I try on shit and I'm too small, I'll be upset, bro! I just gotta take it.”
10 Things Lil Uzi Vert Can't Live Without
When it comes to fit pics, Lil Uzi Vert takes them like the rest of us: He stands in front of an aesthetically complimentary background (maybe a bunch of shrubbery, maybe the stairs leading up to a private jet), one of his homies (always the tall one, for the angles) flicks him up, and Uzi presses post, no caption needed.
Uzi, however, elevates the form of the fit pic to a high art—at least according to friends and collaborators such as Virgil Abloh. “Lil Uzi isn't even human,” Abloh explains to me in an email. “He is another level of a creative being. To me he is an Impressionist painter replacing pigments with ready-made brands and clothes.”
The Claude Monet of fit pics entered his water lily period in May, when he began to bless his followers with near-daily galleries showcasing every detail of his outfits. The posts almost always lead with a full-body shot, as though Uzi is off to his first day of school. (He even smiles occasionally.) Then you swipe right to see the details: the close-ups of the Alyx roller-coaster buckle, the Prada shoes, the archival Yohji Yamamoto racer jacket, the Balenciaga magazine clutch, the fat Cuban-link anklet.
On the one hand, Uzi's fit-pic routine answers the question of what exactly he's supposed to do with the mountains of clothes he's been accumulating: If you wear a fire fit and nobody is there to 'gram it, did it really happen? But on the other, Uzi isn't flexing just for the sheer fuck you of it all. He's doing it because he considers getting dressed his higher calling. “Honestly, in my heart, I think I do this better than music,” he says. “'Cause the music shit is effortless. I actually take my time with this.”
Born Symere Woods, Uzi emerged in the middle of the SoundCloud revolution as a fully formed idea. Most of the SoundCloud kids crashing the gates of the music industry were teenagers with bad tattoos and matching attitudes: their bars woozy, their lyrics as substantive as high-school-bathroom graffiti. Then there was Uzi, a five-foot-four kid with acid green dreads who name-checked Marilyn Manson and called himself a rock star. Though he was from North Philly, he sounded placeless, his emo lyrics channeling the alienation and anxieties of Gen Z. But his verses showcased a rare versatility: Uzi could rhyme with the precision of a seasoned M.C.—and get a crowd to mosh like they were at Warped Tour.
Unlike that of his contemporaries Tekashi 6ix9ine or Lil Pump, Uzi's material excess isn't trite and nihilistic. He embraces self-expression rather than self-erasure, and he occasionally dresses to send a message. During this year's Pride Month, Uzi wore a Nike rainbow-flag T-shirt paired with rainbow Air Maxes, from the brand's Pride collection. While wearing a rainbow flag is the bare-minimum expression of allyship, Uzi is surely not unaware of the rumors regarding his own sexuality or of the history of homophobia in hip-hop. It was a style statement, a calculation made potent due to the risk involved—something to own. And so recently he added “NO STYLIST” to his Instagram display name. “I got a manager that books my tours,” he says. “I got an accountant that watches my accountant. Even though I handle my day-to-day, I got someone that makes sure everything's organized. Why would I ever need a stylist?”
I ask Uzi what compelled him to start posting fit pics.
“Um, I don't know. I always wanted to do that, but I just didn't have a lot of clothes before,” he says. Uzi explains that he once thought he had style because he was more advanced than the guys around him. And then: “It was like when you come to the last level and you open the door and it's, like, a whole new world—not even a new level but a whole new world. You're like, ‘Wait a minute. You're telling me I can't buy all this stuff out the store, I have to get archival stuff?’ Oh, shit! I'm losing.”
He adds, “But I'm not losing anymore, though.”
When I ask him about his fondness for womenswear, Uzi explains that he was always small for his age, so he would rock his mom's skinny jeans with Etnies around 2006 or 2007. “I had to,” he says, because other jeans wouldn't fit. “The women's section is waaaay better than the men's section. Always. The women's section, you usually don't have to get things tailored. It's usually just on point.”
The old notions of gendered dressing don't seem to exist in Uzi's universe: He'll wear Cactus Plant Flea Market motocross suits with Chanel purses, slinky Jean Paul Gaultier tops (archival, of course) with The Soloist jackets. He'll rock Gucci women's skinny jeans printed with strawberries that look straight out of a Taylor Swift music video. When Uzi was mercilessly meme'd online for wearing an Avril Lavigne-ish off-the-shoulder boatneck sweater with a red Goyard purse, rather than stop carrying purses, he bought dozens more. It's no wonder commenters have labeled him “the baddest bitch” on Instagram.
The next day, during his GQ photo shoot at a Key Food in Brooklyn, everything is put on hold so Uzi can go on a different kind of shopping spree. This is triggered by his discovery of Entenmann's Little Bites “Party Cakes” flavor, which, according to Uzi, “you can't find all the time.” He describes himself as “the fakest pescatarian,” whose aversion to meat is more a function of his abiding love of junk food. As his crew struggles to keep up, Uzi tears through the aisles, grabbing Flavor Blasted pizza Goldfish here and $1.75 pound cakes there, periodically tossing items into his bodyguard's basket. When I ask one of his friends if this is what shopping for clothes with Uzi is like, he nods wearily. “Yup.”
Many of Uzi's fans believe that the rapper's fashion obsession distracts him from music, as any scroll through his Instagram comments makes clear. When we speak, it has been 653 days—an eternity in the streaming age—since he released his last album, Luv Is Rage 2. He has just canceled a string of European festival dates, and his follow-up record, Eternal Atake, has been delayed once again; when asked about it, Uzi shrugs and says he wanted to release it that month but that he wasn't done adding to it. This past January, Uzi feinted at quitting music altogether, reportedly amid disagreements with his label. He posted an Instagram story announcing he was throwing in the towel: “I DELETED EVERYTHING I WANNA BE NORMAL … I WANNA WAKE UP IN 2013,” he wrote as a caption. Above it was a photo of his feet, which were clad in sheer Fiorucci socks layered over a pair of Gucci socks.
Between snaps in the supermarket, I ask him how important music is to the Lil Uzi Vert project. He's wearing a black Louis Vuitton bomber with a fur collar, tactical cargo pants, and Air Jordan baseball cleats that click-clack across the pavement—a perfectly deranged Uzi fit. (For the shoot, he worked with stylist Simon Rasmussen, a first and—as Uzi said—a last: “This will be the only time I ever do this. I'm never ever doing this again. Like, ever. And not because of this experience! This is a good experience, I'm chillin'. But I usually just one-time things.”)
“I like making music, and I like making people happy,” says Uzi, “but the music is whatever, bro. I really do it just to make my family happy. Like, it's just something for my family to talk about.”
When I ask Uzi why he said he was quitting music last year, he is more circumspect, his voice lowering.
“I dunno, just how I felt. That's all.”
What was going on last year?
“I just wanted to be more normal.”
Did you realize that you preferred the life of fame you'd achieved?
“No…I want to buy a Bugatti.”
Is that the ultimate goal of everything you're doing?
“Yeah, the ultimate goal is buying a Bugatti.”
When I ask him to elaborate on why he wants a multimillion-dollar supercar, he launches into an exegesis about how it would be a psychotic thing to do, how the maintenance costs make it a terrible investment, how you have to get it serviced every 2,500 miles…but he desperately wants one anyway.
“I just want it, bro! It looks so nice,” says Uzi. “Like, I'm one of those types of guys. I have to buy everything.” A few weeks later, for his 25th birthday, Uzi reportedly bought Floyd Mayweather's old Bugatti Veyron for $1.7 million.
Samuel Hine is a GQ associate editor.
A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2019 issue with the title, "The Enormous Appetites Of Lil Uzi Vert".
Inside Lil Uzi Vert’s Fashion Universe
Photographs by Danielle Levitt
Styled by Simon Rasmussen
Hair by Yalonda Clarke at Salon161
Grooming by Barry White at barrywhitemensgrooming.com
Set design by Cooper Vasquez at Frank Reps
Produced by Stephanie Porto at The Pull Productions
Location scout: Andrew Samah
Thanks to Paul Conte at Key Food at 575 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY.
Originally Appeared on GQ