This New Documentary Shows The Untold Story Of 3 Hip-Hop Fashion Pioneers

For as long as there has been Hip-Hop, fashion has been an integral part of the culture. From what people wore, how they wore it, the expression of clothing and accessories influenced people who did not listen to Rap, or participate in the four elements. By the 1980s, as Run-D.M.C. partnered with Adidas, various stars in the Rap genre began working with brands, designers, and retailers. While many Hip-Hop Heads know the stories of A-list partnerships and endorsement deals, a 30-plus-year-old history is now being told in a documentary. The Shirt Kings worked with some of the greatest MCs of all-time to do something for the culture by people invested in it.

In a new doc presented by TRB2HH, (The Untold Story Of Shirt Kings: Pioneers of Urban Fashion), Hip-Hop and New York’s fashion scene gets the flashback treatment.

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The 31-minute film is chocked full of personal and historical anecdotes, interviews, and blast from the past clips featuring some of the most influential Rap and Fashion trailblazers to properly remember the beginnings of Edwin “Phade” Sacasa, Rafael “Kasheme” Avery, and Clyde “Nike” Harewood’s custom t-shirt venture. Beyond the talent, fame, and the fortune that has grown exponentially from the efforts of their labor. The trio’s trendsetting style has brought forth an entire generation of future artists and brand entrepreneurs, laying the blueprint for Rap artists to represent and even become a major brand worldwide.

Throughout the video, artists such as Nas, Biz Markie, LL Cool J, Sean Price, Rakim, and others praise and sport gear from the almighty Shirt Kings. At one point, (8:30) Clyde “Nike” Harewood and Edwin “Phade” Sacasa discuss meeting Jam Master Jay and how their encounter led to the creation of the first Shirt Kings store.

“Phade” remembers, “We went to Kasheme’s house. I put an airbrush in his hand. He told me he knew Jam Master Jay. I was probably about 17, 18 years old, you know, knocking on Jay’s door. He opened the door and was like, “Yo, what’s up? What’s up? What’s going on?” You know? And I’m like, ‘Wow,’ like, this guy I’m seeing on, you know, MTV is right here now, like, in front of my face. I pull out a black shirt with a gold chain. I painted an acrylic gold chain and Jay just went crazy. He was like, “Yo! This is me!” We discussed the price, and you know, I told him fifty bucks, cause I’m lookin’ at the man right now. You know? He was like “Yo, you know, if this is what you guys wanna do, go to the avenue and open up a shop.” That’s how Shirt Kings came about.

Later, “Nike” Harewood explains further (9:30), “A partner that used to work on our construction site was down with Run-D.M.C. Kasheme told him about the thing he wanted to do with Phade, and he (Jam Master Jay) asked Phade if he could show him a shirt and he says, “Yo I’ma take you to Jay’s house.” They went to Jay’s house and Jay seen the shirts that he did… And Jay said ‘Yo I need two of those. Ya’ll should get a spot.’ And that’s when Kasheme thought about [opening up] at the Coliseum [Mall]… I didn’t see this turning into what it became, you know what I mean? I just thought it would be some little, tiny money making shirts for the market, or the kids, whatever, whatever. But, we had what it takes to make it different than getting a shirt at the amusement park.” These moments with Jam Master Jay led to the creation of their Shirt Kings moniker, and became the ultimate jump off for their placement as a brand in New York City and the greater Hip-Hop community.

The Shirt Kings also designed the outfits from Audio Two’s What More Can I Say? album cover. Last year, the company designed Meek Mill’s XXXTentacion shirt that he wore during the BET Awards performance.

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In 2013, Phade published the book, Shirt Kings: Pioneers Of Hip-Hop Fashion. Previously, TRB2HH made a compelling documentary on Craig Mack more than a year before the MC’s death.

#BonusBeat: Take a visual walk down memory lane: