It’s hard to think of any fashion brand better suited to a collaboration with the buoyant and bright producer DJ Khaled than Dolce & Gabbana. Both make loudness into the highest luxury: Khaled with his larger-than-life, inspirational-speaker persona, whose songs are stuffed to the gills with the biggest stars (Bieber! Quavo! Chance! Wayne!), and D&G with its Technicolor approach to la dolce vita, each collection overflowing with patterns and baubles and chains and headpieces. It’s a match made in heaven, or at least in South Beach. “The collection combines Miami’s urban style with the atmosphere and mood of the Mediterranean,” the designers say by email. “DJ Khaled has a curious approach to the world…and we believe we speak the same language.”
The new capsule collection is exactly how you’d hope and expect it to be: clashing prints of purple flowers and green jungle plants, and an illustration of a lion as a centerpiece for shirts, jackets, swimsuits, and even pillowcases. “In our opinion, today more than ever, people need positivity and genuine emotions…so colors, prints, and mixes are the explosion we wanted,” the designers say. The collaboration is done largely in a fabric signature for both D&G and Khaled, who is almost always seen in public in silky shirts with banana leaves, cheetah skin, or poppy florals. He often has special clothes created so that he and his four-year-old son, Asahd, can match, and on special occasions, he makes sure they both match one of his custom Jet Skis.
Here, fresh from the studio in his hometown, Miami, where he is finishing up a new album—“I can promise you this, all your favorite artists are on the album”—Khaled explains how he came to be the prince of silk prints and, quite possibly, the most confident wearer of clothes on earth.
GQ: I see you’re enjoying a beverage—can I ask what it is?
DJ Khaled: I’m having grape Ciroc mixed with passion fruit and star fruit, and the fruit is actually cut up in there, floating.
Do you take time every day to have a little bit of celebration like this?
Yeah, I definitely celebrate every day, because life is beautiful and God is great. Not just having a drink—I pray every day, kiss my family, and just give thanks. But the reason why I’m having a nice little drink is we wish we were on a tropical island, so we’re going to bring the tropical island right here.
That’s kinda what you do—bring the tropical island everywhere you go.
Tropical is just who I am forever. I love nature. I love flowers. I love the sun. We got to embrace the light, but we also have to be the light, because the light is love. God is love. And through this pandemic, you can’t get caught slipping, meaning slip into the darkness. I had to tell myself, Khaled, you’ve got to be the light. I’ve been like that from birth, but I’m talking about on another level right now. I can’t fall for the trap because of the pandemic.
At least in terms of fashion, I think the Dolce collection is sort of the antithesis of the pandemic vibe, which has been more about gray sweatpants.
We all been through so much—we have to rely on our spirit, on our blessing. And I try to remind myself and the fans out there: We got light. To bring light through music, through energy, through whatever.
When I linked up with Dolce & Gabbana, it was just an automatic connection. I just sent them a bunch of pictures of my vibe—flowers, colors, textures—and explained to them about the light and love. They came back with the sketches and the first round, and I’m like, This is it.
I’m not going to lie to you—it’s going to sell out.
The bright printed silk shirt is the centerpiece, and that’s an item that’s become your signature. Why?
I always love doing things with confidence. I’m not the slimmest guy—I’m not the biggest guy, but I don’t got a six-pack. But at the same time, I look in the mirror and I’m like, Man, I’m gorgeous, I’m beautiful. And the silk shirt gives me what my mind is thinking. Say I want to unbutton it and have my belly hanging out in the top-off Maybach, with the wind blowing. The way the wind blows the shirt, it’s just gorgeous, it’s beautiful. When I step out, I step out big.
DJ Khaled Goes Undercover on Reddit, YouTube and Twitter
Who was your style icon growing up?
A lot of my fashion comes from my parents. They owned a high-end clothing store called Park Avenue. They used to sell suits, silk shirts, everything. I got everything from Armani suits to the Pelle Pelle leathers to crocodile shoes—Versace to Dolce. All the basketball players used to shop at my mom and dad’s shop in Orlando. My dad wore suits every day, seven days a week. He slept in his suits because he worked so much. He wore them so much that he would go to the beach in a suit.
And now your son Asahd is the next generation. Did I see on Instagram he wears custom Dolce?
Oh, yeah. His Dolce game is crazy.
How old is he?
Four. With Dolce, everything they made for me, they made for my son and my queen. They started putting outfits together—pajamas and robes and T-shirts and pants and silks. And he loves it. He knows Dolce.
Does he pick his own outfits?
He does. Sometimes we’ll be able to get one in, like, “Yo, wear this,” but it depends on the vibe he’s in. Every morning, he’ll pick his own sneakers. He’s got a full closet of sneakers. On Snap and Instagram, I will film him and post something like “Wow,” when I see his pick. Today I went to go see him and I ain’t do it, and he’s like, “Dad, why aren’t you filming me and asking me about my sneakers?” It really touched my heart. He really knows he’s out here.
Do you have a favorite sneaker for yourself?
Yeah, I love the Air Jordan 3.
How big would you say your collection of Jordans is?
Probably one of the biggest.
In the world?
Did I also see that you got a Jet Ski customized to match an identical outfit you and Asahd both wore?
All my Jet Skis are custom, and we had some clothes made exactly like one. My Jet Skis stand out—that’s Khaled coming through. It represents light and love.
Let’s talk about grooming: Do you have a regimen?
Oh, yeah, and I want you to make sure you let them know this in this article, because it’s key. I’m born with a glow, but I also use Fenty Skin. I love Rihanna, and I know she knows the best, and I know she knows the right ingredients. People always ask me how I got my glow, and I say God and Fenty Skin. I can’t make it up because it’s the truth. God blessed me.
You got to self-care. You got to do a mani and pedi. You got to moisturize the beard. You got to moisturize the skin. It goes back to me loving flowers. You have to take care of your flower. When you take care of the flower, and you put light on it and sun on it and water, it looks so beautiful. It grows so beautiful. But that’s you, too, as a human. And that’s what I’m trying to tell people—like, we got life. You have to take care of it.
How often would you recommend getting a mani and pedi?
I do it once a week. Don’t let it go past the two-week mark.
I noticed that the line is size inclusive, going up to a 60 in Italian sizes. I’m curious how you feel when people say you are a symbol of big-man swag—is that something you wear proudly?
For sure. What I learned in life is, like, I’m beautiful. And people sometimes joke on me like, “Yo, Khaled, you’ve been working out your whole life, and you don’t lose no weight.” I say, “First of all, that’s because I don’t lose. I win.” All I do is win.
Then when you see me working out, it’s not just to get some pounds off. It goes back to what we were saying—when you work out and you eat good, it gives you the glow. I’m not always working out just to get rid of weight. Sometimes yes, I do, and I do get rid of the weight. But then it comes back, like a normal human being. And then you got to get rid of it again.
But I am representing the big-man swag. That’s who I am, and I’m cool with it and I’m blessed with it. I don’t want to be skinny-skinny, and I don’t want to be super big. There’s a point where I won’t let it go past. I have a rule: When I weigh myself, I won’t let it go past a certain number.
Do you mind sharing that number?
No, I love it. I want people to know the philosophy. Three or four years ago, I was 300 pounds, and I’m never going back to that ever. That was too much. I got down to 240 with Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers helped me out and helped me get to 240, by just following their meal plan, and then just the mentality of wellness and eating healthy. And you think I’m gorgeous now? When I was 240, I was unbelievable. Now I’m at 267, and I’m never going back to 300—that’s not no swag. But I want to get back at 250, and I would love to get back to 240, because that’s perfect.
It’s so hard.
So hard, man. Wow! It’s so hard. But you know what? I’m blessed to have a beautiful chef. When it’s time for me to kick it in, I just stop eating the carbs, work out five days a week. And when I say work out, it’s like, do my elliptical for like an hour a day. You do that, cut down on some sugar, and it will come off easy. The hard part is doing it consistently.
But I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of myself because I’ve been maintaining and I’ve been keeping it. And I want people to be proud of themselves too.
Do you ever leave the house not feeling confident?
Yeah, I have, because I was lazy. Some days, I’ll just throw on my basketball shorts, some flip-flops, and a T-shirt, and I’m like, Damn, I should have put on a Dolce.
Whom do you imagine wearing the Dolce collection?
Anybody that represents the love and the light—so you’d hope the whole world.
Styled by Terrell Jones
Grooming by Nelson Marques
Produced by Gaby Schuetz at Select Services Production