“If one wants to understand the essential street/couture mystery of Riccardo Tisci, the best place to start would probably be his Rottweiler T-shirt. The Rottweiler debuted in January 2011 as part of the Givenchy autumn menswear collection. It is a black jersey garment printed with a large image of a Rottweiler, which happens to be America’s tenth-most-popular pet dog, just above the Shih Tzu. You’ve probably seen the shirt before, on either Kanye West or Liv Tyler, or on Rihanna or Swizz Beatz or Usher, or on a street-style blog, or on a local high school senior who reads street-style blogs, or on Rick Ross. It is everywhere, the Rottweiler shirt, and it has been everywhere for well over a year. At $265, every edition sold out.
It’s not immediately obvious why. Actual Rottweilers have glossy coats, enjoy retrieving balls, and tend to snore. Some overeat. Made over in boxy cotton, however, the Rottweiler has captured demographic slices that tend to be mutually exclusive: fashion-world in fluencers, mainstream celebrities, and the “streetwear” community, which is what the fashion industry calls young black people. (Every sector has its own evasive racial code. In Hollywood, young black people are the “urban audience.”) More interesting than the shirt itself is where it puts Riccardo Tisci, which is at the overlapping center of the Liv Tyler, hip-hop-enthusiasts-in-Atlanta, and herding-dog Venn circles. For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure he’s the only one there.”