There are collectors, and then there’s Taz Arnold. A self-described “creative pack rat,” the roving musician (“Imma Vote Obama Way”) and designer is one of the great hoarders, like a Collyer brother of high fashion. His 3,000-square-foot Los Angeles home is filled with hundreds of pairs of sunglasses (ranging from ’80s gold-plated designer frames to cheap plastic shutter shades), vintage tennis shoes by Diadora and Ellesse, Gucci loafers, and pounds of old-school belt buckles. “I just like beautiful things,” he says on the phone last January from men’s fashion week in Paris. “I think creation is beautiful. There’s just something about stuff and the energy that things hold.” Arnold grew up as, in his own words, an “African-American Native-American ghetto hippie bohemian” in L.A., with parents who collected vintage clothing. Arnold got his start shoplifting Ralph Lauren at age 14. “I was more like a Robin Hood kind of thief,” he says. “I wouldn’t steal people’s personal objects, or from mom-and-pop stores. Now I spend a lot of money on clothes. I guess I’m rehabilitated.” An occasional music producer, Arnold is currently working on a “series of design-driven albums that will sound something like Ziggy Stardust if David Bowie were making things like plastic rings.” He also has his own menswear line, TI$A, is a consultant for Kanye West’s Pastelle fashion label, and plans to give the ’80s brand MCM, which hired him last year, a ’90s Gucci-style resurrection. While Arnold admits to meticulously compiling his accessories into artful installations around the house, most of the energy he once put into collecting is now focused on creating. “Because of the recession I thought, You have to start making things. People want to participate. Life is like a concert, and when people go to a concert, they want to buy a T-shirt. Things I’ve collected are the inspiration to bring forth something new.”
Above: Vintage sunglasses from Taz Arnold’s collectionof accessories.