Creator of ‘What are you wearing’ series Kofi McCalla on the psychology of fashion

Kofi McCalla

By Marco Marcelline

Kofi McCalla has been at the forefront of documenting streetwear culture for years. From starting out by checking out Supreme drops at their flagship Soho store, he has built up a fanbase of hundreds of thousands. Alongside fashion, Kofi has been working diligently on his DJ’ing skills.

His YouTube channel “UnknownVlogs” has seen a renewed surge in interest this year thanks to his “What are you wearing” series, in which the 24-year-old stops and asks fashionable people on the streets of London for a rundown of their chosen looks. The clothes are one aspect of the appeal of his videos, but it’s his warm and infectiously upbeat energy that keeps his 785k subscribers coming back.

Over Zoom, I catch up with the enigmatic creative, as we ask what’s next in his arsenal…

Kofi McCalla

Hi Kofi, how are you?

Good thanks! I just got back from Ukraine actually.

Oh really, why were you there?

I was in Kiev doing a [DJ] set, it’s so cool there. I want to move there.

Whats the street style in Kiev like?

Individualism is still a thing. Like everyone’s super authentic still, and it’s just them being them. Everyone has their own swag with their clothes. Everyone just looks sick, they really go in in Ukraine. I was taken away. I was like, ‘woah, are you guys for real?’.

While youve been making the What are you wearing series, have you been recognised in the street?

Yeah, like usually families, mums, dads, kids, or grandmas will stop me. It’s all unpredictable, like a grandma in front of me, will just turn around and facetime her grandkids being like, “Oh my god, look at who I’m with!”. Then there’ll be the cool kids wearing Margiela and Tabi boots, it’s moreso me approaching them and then they’ll be like “Yeah I watch you.” Fair enough!

How do you approach people to be in your videos?

I have to dress according to what area of London I’m in. So if I’m in Mayfair I have to wear a Brioni suit, or an Issey Miyake suit because people won’t stop for a POC. Some people run away from me into shops; I’ll be like, “hey I love your outfit” and they’ll be running. The time of day matters too. I have to wear one type of clothing that helps the conversation, so people are like “Oh, I love your sunglasses.”

I feel like I should have my own uni course on the psychology and sociology of fashion at Harvard haha. I’ve really learnt how body language and what you’re wearing is so important. If I’m wearing coloured nails, and I approach people talking with my hands, they’ll be super welcoming. If I’m wearing a hoodie and I’m super normal, making a video will be so hard because no one will stop for me.

Wow, thats shocking but not surprising at the same time. On the flip side you dont want those type of people in your video anyway.

I film and upload on the same day, and I would have got hundreds of rejections, but you just learn to filter it out and it’s like cool, they don’t want to be in the video, whatever. I started drinking flat whites to keep up the energy because you have to talk to so many people, it can be draining.

You must have learned a lot about how to deal with rejections.

100%. I’ve also learned how to turn it into a positive and I’ve got better at knowing how to talk to people and using my body language. Now I can look at someone and just know how to talk to them. So, I’ve been to exclusive members clubs by myself and at the end of the night I’ll know every single person in that room.

When youre filming, what does your day look like?

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I just wake up and leave my house and text my homie and say, ‘we’re gonna go here’. I’ll film 2-4pm, and then edit at 5 and upload for 6pm. If I’m working my job at Jaded till 5 then I’ll film in the evening and chill afterwards, or DJ.

What time of the day do you find people wearing the best fits?

5-7pm I’ve found is the best time. People are going out to get drinks, they’re excited. There’s so much energy at that time.

You DJ as well. What are your plans with your music?

I met this producer that’s worked with Rihanna, and I recorded stuff at his house in Spain. I’m planning on dropping singles on Spotify and then when Christmas comes I’ll put it together into an EP.

Youve done an afterparty set at your house. Whats your favourite part of a night out?

The afterparty. Say if I’ve done a set from 1am to 2.30, then it’s the afterparty. The next next location. It has to be at someone else’s house unless I had a big yard with cleaners. Actually no, it has to be at someone’s house because then I can just leave and go sleep haha.

You can check out Kofi’s Instagram here and his YouTube here.

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