If he isn’t considered one of fashion’s greats just yet, 23-year-old Roper Rope is certainly headed there. The tastemaker- who still remembers the first time he put medium to canvas in the form of drawing, a heady moment in middle school – has been buzzing after his self-titled line was seen dripping off of the likes of several celebrities, August Alsina and Ne-Yo to name just a couple.
The Chicago native took a few moments to chat it up with GlobalGrind recently, and we got to the root of what makes Roper tick. With this young creator, it’s all about authenticity, passion, and God. Not to mention, he hasn’t forgotten one person who’s helped him along the way – not even the pre-teen peer who first encouraged him with “Dang! You can draw! You good” – and as we know, that kind of humility takes hardworking talent a long way.
On his inspirations as the creator of ‘ROPER’
“Art is heavenly, and that inspires all of my designs. When I work, I keep myself sheltered from fashion. The reason why I do that is because I don’t want my work to look like anybody, so if I don’t see what’s going on and I don’t see who’s doing what then I can’t duplicate what they’re doing. I don’t know what Balmain looks like right now, I don’t know what Alexander Wang’s new collection looks like, unless it comes to me. I don’t search for it. There’s only one person that I am inspired by and that person is deceased – Muhammad Ali.”
On not believing in God at one point in time
“There was a point in time when I didn’t even really believe in a higher power or a God, and not to say that I was atheist, it just didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t put the pieces together but then I had a moment of clarity one day and it took me all the way back to the exact moment when I knew that it was God who pointed me in this direction. And it was God who helped me, and guided me with making these choices.”
On keeping his work honest and authentic
“I’m very childlike. Not childish, but childlike. And when I say childlike I mean that if a kid eats something and it’s nasty they’re going to spit it out and say ‘ugh this is nasty!’ I’m going to do what I want to do. I don’t do things that an actual child would do but the way I experiment is still childlike. When I think I want to put paint drippings on a plaid shirt, I don’t go ask people ‘Would this be cool?’ I don’t go ask people ‘What you think about this?’ I just do it and wait to see what the reaction is going to be.”
On how his professional relationship with August Alsina got started
After spotting his clothes online, August’s team bought an entire look Roper created, telling the designer “August loves it!” The rest all seems like one crazy coincidence after another – having to miss a meeting with the famed singer, but then randomly ending up at the BET Awards where August won “Viewer’s Choice” while wearing his designs, then soon after decided to continue wearing them in videos, on tour, and more.
“He wore it at the BET Awards, he wore it in DJ Khaled’s ‘Hold You Down’ video. Then he did the ‘No Love’ music video and he wore it on 106 & Park. He’s wearing my designs through the entire Testimony tour, and he’ll also be wearing them during his tour with Usher.”
On the first person to help him get on
“I want it to be known that this person helped me build my career because when he wore it he introduced me, spoke highly of me, and put me in light. He’s a radio personality/host named Cory B. that works for Hood Rich Radio.”
On who he would really like to work with
“I would really like to work with Pharrell and I would really like to work with Kanye. There’s a few different people, but those two – I really like their passion in what they do. They’re both tastemakers.”