As Canada’s biggest export since maple syrup (sorry Drake), The Weeknd (real name Abęl Makkonen Tesfaye) has already won 2016, racking up an Academy Award nomination, eight Billboard awards and two Grammys. Not to mention another full studio album and hook-ups with the likes of Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey and Eminem.
But The Weeknd’s victories aren’t confined to the recording studio – his style’s winning too. In a world of 2 Chainzs and Nicki Minajs, rap’s rising stars often buckle under the pressure to wear their success – you know, fat chains, diamond grills and Versace, Versace, Versace – all of which are swag in their own right but not, over 20 years since their inception, what you’d describe as trendsetting.
The Weeknd counters all the Young Money excess as a graduate of the less-is-more school, teaching us that looks can be contemporary without gimmicks or heavy branding.
Hip-pop style is easier to execute than you might think. Here, we unpick The Weeknd’s go-to moves.
The Weeknd loves bomber jackets. In fact, he might even love them more than Kanye loves Kanye. (Who are we kidding…)
Testament to this military staple’s versatility, The Weeknd has deployed a bomber at events from the MTV VMAs to a live performance on Saturday Night Live. There’ve been black and sand-coloured MA1s, repurposed NBA merchandise and Gucci-esque embroidered designs – each very much its own style but all united in their oversized, boxy fit.
Yes, you’re right, with capacious jackets like these, it’s very easy to start looking like that man made of tyres, but The Weeknd knows what’s up – taking care to team his chunky outerwear with pieces that fit closer.
Full Camo Jacket
He might be more au fait with penning chart-topping hits than trench warfare, but The Weeknd still knows his way around a camo jacket.
His aren’t any old military surplus styles either. Wise to the fact that the trend for traditional woodland camo has peaked (again), The Weeknd riffs on the theme – drawing on desert camo and abstract variations to keep his look contemporary.
He puts it front and centre, too, each time surrounding his statement camo jacket with comparatively sober pieces – black or navy separates, or pieces in a slightly different shade of green for a tonal take – producing an overall effect that’s more A Bathing Ape than Action Man.
On That All-Black Tip
Like his contemporaries, The Weeknd knows the power of an all-black outfit. Endlessly versatile and unerringly cool, wearing this classic colour head-to-toe requires little in the way of effort, but delivers big on results.
Standing at a modest 5’7, The Weeknd’s black-on-black looks also give the illusion of height – always useful when you’re hitting the red carpet with a Hadid on your arm.
In less formal surroundings, he leans on black pieces including bombers, tapered trousers, ankle-skimming jeans and crew neck tees, and the murdered-out mantra also extends to his kicks, as he rounds his monochrome looks off perfectly with a pair of black-out adidas Originals Sambas or classic Stan Smiths.
Knowing you’re going to be stood next to a woman as unfathomably beautiful as Bella Hadid, the idea of ‘scrubbing up’ reaches a whole new level. After all, no one wants to top a Buzzfeed list of ’23 Shockingly Unmatched Celebrity Couples’.
Although not best known for his suited-and-booted looks, The Weeknd still bosses black tie. Case in point: this year’s Grammys, to which he wore a black peak lapel tuxedo with a black shirt and bow tie.
While all-black formal attire might sound dull, The Weeknd looked anything but, with subtle details like the jacket’s silk lapel, the silk bow tie and patent leather shoes creating a visual texture that stopped its wearer from blending into the background.
It may only be a slight deviation from the tried-and-trusted white-shirt-black-tux formula, but it works a charm.
We couldn’t talk about The Weeknd’s style without touching on his not-so-secret weapon: his hair. Apparently inspired by groundbreaking artist Jean-Michael Basquiat, it’s perhaps best described as a dreadlocked top and back curtain neatly flanked by a side fade.
Which is a lot. And definitely not something everyone can pull off. Freeform dreads like The Weeknd’s take months to cultivate, with no combing, brushing or washing with regular shampoo allowed. It’s dedication, and dedication due kudos – but never that drunk-Taylor-Swift-petting-hair-at-a-Grammys-party kind of kudos.
Most Valuable Layer
Outerwear layering is tricky to get right – pair the wrong pieces or mess with the wrong proportions and you’re a ringer for a Ryanair passenger who refuses to check-in a bag.
So look to the pros, among them The Weeknd. By layering sweats, tees and hoodies underneath unstructured jackets like bombers and truckers (pieces that lend themselves to layering), he deftly plays with proportion, colour and print.
Try it for yourself by wearing a zipped hoodie underneath an overcoat, or a longline T-shirt under a lightweight bomber jacket for a slightly more warm-weather-ready spin.
Is The Weeknd’s style as gong-worthy as his music? Or just another fad that’s headed for the hills?
Have your say below.