Wu Wear is back on the streets.
Wu-Tang Clan's Robert Diggs (RZA) and Oliver Grant (Power) tell Billboard they’re bringing back the iconic hip-hop clothing line in partnership with Live Nation’s Merchandise division. Originally launched in 1995, Wu Wear was one of hip-hop’s first clothing lines and was sold at major retailers like Macy's and Bloomingdale's until being discontinued in 2008. Nearly a decade later and nearing the 25th anniversary of the release of the group's iconic 1993 album “Enter The Wu-Tang Clan: 36 Chambers," Diggs and Grant are revitalizing the brand for 2017 with new designs and high-end items for the next generation of Shaolin warriors.
"Wu Wear was the first hip-hop brand to be in the windows on Macy's 34th St.,” Diggs tells Billboard. "Now that we are aware and re-energized for our legacy, we felt it was the proper time to reenter the market. Not in a boutique way, but to go big, once again.”
Grant said part of Wu Wear’s re-entry is to fight off pirating that’s filed in the void for Wu-Tang Clan’s absence from the fashion game. Counterfeit versions of the group’s W logo are popping up at flea markets, bodegas and online retailers like eBay and Amazon.
"Thirst is everything, image is nothing,” Grant added. “Yesterday in Little Italy there's a guy right in the middle of the block with a whole shirt stand. All type of shirts and the biggest one in the middle was what? The Wu-Tang shirt. I'm like, 'Yo, who is this guy paying?’”
Diggs said he’s watched as the Wu-Tang W has become a part of the cultural lexicon and "inspired a lot of people."
"They have Wu-Tang tattoos. They put the Wu-Tang onesies on their children. I seen guys online making Wu-Tang tables. We really appreciate that, and we understand that this is our fan base. This is people who are inspired," he said. "And they're going to get that representation because that logo is a badge. Now that we have come to what we call a legacy point in time, we say, it's time to give it to the world and give it to them right."
The group is still pulling together it’s touring and recording plans for 2017 with rappers Ghostface Killah and Mitchell "Divine" Diggs rejoining Wu-Tang Clan. They've also hired a fresh team of young designers to create items connecting Wu-Tang's mystique with today's fashion sensibilities.
"We have the foundation team here that understands what made the brand become iconic. We also have a team of people who have joined us," Diggs says. "We have a well of expression to pull from and understand fashion nuances. Maybe the young guy is looking for the basic crew neck. But yet, the Miami guy, he's looking for more the no collar neck to get more of the shoulder blades into it. We are conscious of all this. You'll see all those elements of fashion apply to our line."
He added that the designs incorporate the group's albums and tracks including an item dedicated to the 1993 "Can It Be So Simple" video.
"That goes back to the idea of Wu-Tang always being in the community. Always striving. And also, reflecting back to how simple life was when you were just a kid on a bike, popping a wheelie," Diggs explains.
The collection makes its first debut this week during Agenda in Las Vegas, Nevada (Aug. 14-16) with pieces available shipping to retail in October for the 2017 holiday season, as well as select pop-up locations. A spring 2018 launch will incorporate printables as well as fashion knits, jackets, wovens, bottoms and accessories.
"Our forecast for the future is that we have some very unique product," Diggs says. "Some things you're going to be happy to see back in the market. Some things you're going to go, 'Whoa! I was waiting for something like that!' It's gonna be so cool, yo!"
For more information, visit wuwear.com.