John Legend Talks SXSW 2016 and Summer Festival Style Tips

"AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 17: John Legend headlines the AXE Collective + Crew Powered By SPIN, hosted by AXE, during SXSW on March 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for AXE)"

At SXSW 2016, songwriter John Legend shared the stage with Rae Sremmurd, Alunageorge, and five up-and-coming artists handpicked by Mr. Legend himself to perform at the AXE Collective, a show presented by the grooming brand, for which he is a spokesperson. While he was only in Austin, Texas for a short time, we were able to catch up with the multiple-award winning artist to ask him about how to pack for music festivals and what he prefers to wear onstage. Legend’s first piece of advice? Check the weather report.

“It’s Texas, and it’s spring, so it usually gets pretty warm here,” he says. But the right look is as important as preparing a set list, since it can affect how you feel before you perform. “You wanna feel good; you wanna feel sexy on stage. I think when you have the right outfit on, you just feel confident that you’re ready to go out there and do your thing.”


He wore a lightweight leather bomber jacket embossed with a snakeskin pattern, an outerwear option that may seem incongruent with the usual heat of summer festivals. Legend says his is actually quite breathable, and judging by the amount of SXSW attendees similarly decked out in leather jackets over t-shirts, it spoke to the overall trend of wearing one in the summer. Of course, as someone who spends plenty of time in Los Angeles, a light-yet-luxe layer is pragmatic for his personal style.

“The good thing about LA is that it’s always cool at night, so you can always wear a jacket. I feel like every guy needs good jackets,” he says.

When the weather heats up, especially in cities like New York and Austin, Texas, men’s clothing options usually suffer.

“It sucks for guys, because we look better the more covered up we are,” he says of summer style.

For sweltering temperatures, Legend suggests lighter layers like printed shirts, breezy button-ups, and versatile pieces that can easily be thrown over a t-shirt. “You need to find some good summer shoes too—low-top sneakers and casual shoes,” he adds.

"AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 17: John Legend headlines the AXE Collective + Crew Powered By SPIN, hosted by AXE, during SXSW on March 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for AXE)"

Colour also factors into Legend’s summer festival style. He still wears a lot of black, influenced by his days in New York, but admits that in LA, the monotone colour story may seem out of place. But at festivals and on the stage, dark colours serve another purpose—concealing sweat.

“I think black helps because sweat doesn’t show as much,” he says. “If you wear light-coloured clothes, the sweat will show up, so if you’re gonna get hot, you might not wanna do that.”

As an expectant father, Legend may have to consider a wardrobe that can hide stains more than sweat. With dad-inspired style on the come-up in the form of curved-brim ballcaps, light-washed denim, and orthopaedic-looking sneakers being adopted by childless men and actual fathers alike, perhaps Legend will see some of these items wind up in his closet?

“When things are getting spilled on you, you gotta figure out the right things to wear,” he jokes. “It’s hard to say what you’re gonna be like as a dad until it happens. It’s a new thing that’s completely unlike anything you’ve done before.”

LIKE THIS? Follow Jian on Twitter. Subscribers can check out the report on Young Men’s Apparel at SXSW here and the report on Young Men’s Footwear and Accessories at SXSW here. For more reports on menswear and street style trends, join WGSN.

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.