Michael Stipe Reviews His 35 Greatest Fits: “This Was the F***ing Coolest Jacket on Earth”

Oh, wow. This is good. This sweater—I still have that sweater. I’m in my studio right now. The sweater’s next door.

The embroidery on the sweater—presumably this is one of one, right?

Yeah. That’s a handmade piece by Noki, and I bought it at the Pineal Eye in London, in Soho. That’s where I would pick up all my Vexed Generation [pieces]—now if you go looking for it on The Real Real, all the Vexed Generation stuff is going for like 2,500 bucks a pop.

In fact, check it out. Hang on. [leaves frame again, returns with a white motorcycle-style Vexed Generation jacket.] I just found this last week. It actually still fits.

[Stipe demonstrates a few of the jacket’s details, including the sweat-vents in the sleeves and across the back.]

These guys reinvented the wheel. They were ripped off by everyone—Helmut Lang, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, everyone was ripping off Vexed Generation. I saw one of them was going for $2,400, and I was like, Jesus Christ, let me see if I can find these pieces. So I went back into the deep closet and pulled this one. It’s actually in really good shape. I could sell it.

But then, the one that I would probably hold onto for one second— [he slips into a super-tech-y black zip-up jacket, like something a bike messenger would wear in a William Gibson novel] This is Vexed. It’s so good.

Oh, man.

[Stipe pulls the zipper all the way up, so that the wide lapels become a mask that covers the bottom two-thirds of his face.]

They were the first ones to do this, right? Nobody did that before Vex. This was when they started installing close circuit TVs all over London. This was a biking jacket. It actually caused quite a stir, because they passed a law that it was illegal to cover your face, but this was for bikers. This was the fucking coolest. It’s still the coolest jacket on earth.

This is late ‘90s, early 2000s, and the eyeliner looks like a precursor to your Blue Mask look, which we’ll get to in a second.

Okay, cool. The sweater is—I’m almost certain it’s an artist named Noki. I bought a bunch of stuff at the Pineal Eye there in Soho, including all the Vexed stuff. I also bought it for all my friends. I just thought they were the coolest things on Earth, and they weren’t that expensive. And they had beautiful shirts and trousers that, again, were being repeated by giant fashion brands ten years later. It really inspired a whole generation of designers.

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