Rocking vintage concert tees, or even wearing full-fledged collections inspired by classic albums (think the Biggie-inspired Coogi x Puma sneakers), has become a fashion mainstay.
Sony Music’s merchandising arm Thread Shop, responsible all subsidiary labels under its umbrella (Epic Records, RCA, Columbia and more), recently announced their partnership with rap icon Nas — an artist who was a hip-hop titan in the 1990s and continues to reign supreme — to help capitalize on the ’90s nostalgia trend. “What’s really important is this hip-hop nostalgia vibe happening right now,” says Thread Shop’s vice president, Frances Wong, of the fashion world embracing merch. “Nas is ’90s hip-hop.”
The Queens, New York, rhymer, who began his career with the iconic, Columbia-released Illmatic in1994, is collaborating with Thread Shop to create a variety of tees, sweats and outerwear that will function as an extension of the content his lyrics provided on the earlier part of his hearty catalog. “It’s really about directing the messaging he has in his music and being able to tell those stories with the apparel,” she says. “We’re not just going to do one-off tees here and there. We’re building a nice eight to 10 pieces. And we’ll do it on, say, a God’s Son album. Or the messaging within a song.”
Thread Shop boasts a variety of fashion-savvy staffers familiar with couture runway, streetwear and culture trends with aims to make their artist partnerships be more dynamic than just simple T-shirts with album covers on them. They’re as concerned with the music as they are with “getting the washes right on garments to make sure they’re authentically on trend,” Wong notes.
Nas’ first wave of Thread Shop pieces will hit the market later this summer in select stores and on his online site. “What you see online will not be the same as what’s in stores,” Wong says, assuring that garments in a New York City pop-up shop will be different from what’s offered in Los Angeles. “It’s all about exclusives.”
In 2016, they handled a collection around A Tribe Called Quest’s last album We Got It From Here… Thank You for Your Service album (above). Pop-ups on both coasts sold out within their respective weekends. Thread Shop is also currently working with DJ Khaled, A$AP Ferg and Bob Dylan. Nas reportedly is wrapping up his forthcoming 11th solo studio album, set to release later this year.