It’s impossible to talk fashion with Chronixx—the face of Adidas’s new Spring 2017 Spezial collection—without discussing things much bigger than shirts and shoes. The 24-year-old Jamaican reggae singer, a leader in the island’s earthy roots scene, has a holistic view on personal style, informed in part by his Rastafarian beliefs, and his spirit leads his style, not the other way around. “We are not trying to look good—we are trying to be good,” he tells me one morning after a long night in the studio, leaning all the way back in a big purple chair at his downtown New York hotel.
The Spezial collection is a gorgeous mix of classic tracksuits, soccer-ready sneakers, and traditional military styles, but, as with everything in his life, if Chronixx couldn’t cherish its strengths with all five senses, it wouldn’t matter how good it looked. “The most beautiful thing about it is when you touch the fabric,” he says of the collection. “It’s not about the runway or what’s trending. It’s what suits you and how you live.”
This season’s Spezial line takes its inspiration from Jamaican life, and, especially, soccer, a sport Chronixx, like many Jamaicans, has played casually since childhood. When he’s not on the road or recording in other cities, he continues to join twice-weekly pickup matches in Kingston (Usain Bolt has been known to jump in with Chronixx’s local games). “Fútbol style for me is really about the functionality,” he says. “Trust me: You look cool if you’re playing cool.” The collection features fresh, trim takes on sporty looks, like an old-school knit polo, a classic team jersey, and the traditional Atlanta sneaker, much of it lined with the pillar shade of Jamaica’s flag (and Chronixx’s favorite color): green. “Green is the color that your heart resonates with. Green means ‘go’ on the traffic light. Green is symbolic of life and birth and love,” he says.
Chronixx is attracted to the Spezial line for the way in which it solves one very specific problem for him: He loves time-honored styles but doesn’t jibe with vintage or thrifted clothes. “A lot of people buy old stuff, but I don’t like it. I am very sensitive to vibroturgy and certain vibrations that get trapped in materials, so I can’t wear something pre-owned,” he says. “You want to look classic, but in your own energy in a new thing. I like when Adidas brings new technology to the classic fit, like in the tracksuit. It’s the same cut as in the past, but it’s breathable. You don’t feel old.”
The Spezial collection, in fact, launched in 2014 as a bridge between the past and the future. “Spezial comes from that ’70s/’80s Adidas aesthetic, and it’s about refining that through better materials and discarding the stuff that isn’t relevant. We are not creating a ‘retro’ range,” says Adidas creative consultant Gary Aspden. “Chronixx’s philosophy around making his music is similar to my philosophy around creating the Spezial line. He understands the value of the past to create something modern—something that echoes and evokes without being regressive.”
The collection is not all Chronixx has to be excited about: He is gearing up to release a new album, Chronology, his first full-fledged studio project after years of bubbling up with beloved singles and EPs. He’s promising lush string arrangements and a duet with his father, a legendary musician known as Chronicle. But he’s also getting ready for a season spent on the road touring the world, a way of life that Chronixx, a natural nomad, feels comfortable navigating and dressing for. “A Rasta will like a jacket with a certain number of pockets because we are travelers. We are people of the earth. We don’t belong to any nation,” he says. “When we’re on the go, there are certain things that a Rasta man needs to have with him. You have your herb, you have your food, you have some coconut water, a couple moringa seeds. Or nothing at all—no money, no food, and you can acquire things on the way.”
As our time together winds down, he shows me his suitcase, packed tight but neatly with cozy clothes in neutral shades of green, tan, and brown, in a far tidier arrangement than expected from most music superstars. “I take good care of whatever I have,” he says. He shows off clothes that he’s collected from his travels all over the world, like a cushy scarf from Japan that can be twisted into a beanie. “I like to cover my dreads most of the time. When we grow our dreads, it is a covenant and a meditation,” he says.
He lets me hold a beautiful gold ring he acquired in Ethiopia, the Rastafarian promised land. “Ethiopia is like walking into the Bible in modern times. A lot of its fabrics are handmade, handwoven. A lot of scarves and white linen,” he says. The ring features the Lion of Judah, an important emblem in Ethiopian and Rasta cultures, and it’s a personally significant piece of jewelry that seems to sums up his entire wardrobe ethos. If you’re going to wear something, make it matter. “Life becomes more vibrant when you see things symbolically. You don’t take life for granted that way,” he says. “If you are good, you look good.”