Kiwi artist JessB on the importance of personal style and where she finds wardrobe inspiration

16 December 2019
By Fashion Quarterly

Off the back of a knockout year, rapper JessB has released a fresh EP, New Views, and is preparing for her upcoming New Zealand tour.

With a dynamic, self-styled look that is as engaging as her music, the vintage fan takes some time out to tell us what inspires her.

FQ: Your personal style is vibrant and fun; both down-to-earth and glamorous (especially those matching two-pieces). What influences your wardrobe?
JessB: Thank you! Two-pieces have become a favourite for me. Colour and comfort are probably two things that influence me the most, especially when I’m performing. Because I’m moving around a lot on stage, what I’m wearing needs to allow for this! Bright colours and patterns that pop are always good on stage, too. I am inspired by lots of what I see on Instagram; I follow street-style pages and individuals with a personal style I really like. I source my clothes from all over the place, including op shops.

What are your musical inspirations?
My biggest musical inspiration in hip-hop has always been Missy Elliott, however I am also inspired by a (growing) list of female rappers making amazing music. In addition to hip-hop, I’m also hugely inspired by both dancehall and Afro-beats genres, as they’re both styles that I listen to and really love.

What is your strategy when getting dressed, especially for a public appearance, and does what you wear affect your performance?
I try not to double up on performance outfits (I actually haven’t yet!) so usually I get creative with mixing and matching what I own. If I feel confident in what I’m wearing I feel that would absolutely translate into the way I perform, but that is also dependent on the type and size of the event I’m performing at.


What’s your favourite piece in your wardrobe right now?
I have a lilac tracksuit from Ruby that I’ve been wearing on repeat lately. Love the colour and I love how comfy it is too. I also love vintage sports labels such as FUBU.

Why do you think style is so important for an artist, especially now with far more visibility thanks to platforms like Instagram?
I think that the style of clothes an artist wears is very much a part of their “brand”. All visuals (including music videos and online platforms such as Instagram) are a chance to further express to your audience who you are. So I think it is definitely something that is important to think about, especially with Instagram being the place that people would first look up an artist.

Does your Kenyan heritage have any influence on your wardrobe (or work)?
I think it influences everything I do! It’s who I am and it’s in my blood. I have incorporated Maasai jewellery into some of the imagery that I’ve used, including videos, but it is something that I definitely want to start embracing more and more where I can.

Getting on stage must be daunting at times. What outfit makes you feel most powerful or confident?
Depends on how big the show is! I definitely get nervous from time to time. I don’t have one particular outfit that I always wear, but I make sure that I have organised and am happy with my outfit long before the lead-up to the show, so that I feel like I can relax and do my thing.

How we present ourselves says a lot about us personally and our values. What do you hope your clothing choices say about you, and why is self-expression so important?
Self-expression is the way we show the world our thoughts, ideas or our feelings, and it is especially prominent through creative outlets such as music and fashion. I believe that it’s important in showing the way we define ourselves as people and where we fit into the world. I am not so worried about what my clothing choices say about me or how they are received by other people, but more about how they make me feel, as I believe that is what self-expression should ultimately be for – ourselves.

JessB’s EP is out now | @ogjessb

This article originally appeared in Fashion Quarterly Issue 3, 2019.

Words: Emma Gleason

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