Several rappers develop clothing lines but very few completely believe in the fabric that covers their bodies.
T.I. certainly doesn’t fall into that category, evidenced from the name of his brand AKOO, to the distinctive styles the apparel is known for. A King Of One’s self represents the same of confidence used to take his self-appointed crown moniker into a name everybody begin to believe in.
And the confidence is being instilled once again on a national scale–with a creative twist. T.I., AKOO and its parent group RP55 just unveiled their new Summer/Fall Capsule Collection, creatively directed by legendary Hip-Hop and culture photographer Jonathan Mannion. Hip-Hop Wired is all about digging deeper into triumphs that propel the culture and was able to catch up with both distinguished gentleman for them to outline how the collaboration came about and what it means for them personally.
T.I. a.k.a. Clifford Harris sets the bars for trends and nearly everything he does. And he tells Hip-Hop Wired that everything he does AKOO-wise is calculated precisely to make some sort of impact.
“For five years now, we have been eyeball-deep in strategies and approaches to business fashion and art,” the AKOO’s King explains. “In the past few months, there has some demand and ‘spike’ in business that has been created. More so than any sort of spooky superstition or alignment of the cosmos and stars and what not. Our team works hard and it seemed to pay off.”
When asked how much creative control he maintains over the situation, the Grand Hustle chieftain knew when to exercise his executive powers to delegate. “For elaborate pieces such as our Summer ’14 line, I just had the expertise to say, ‘Hey man, I think we should consider Jonathan Mannion for a collaboration [Laughs].”
Mannion, who has shot nearly every piece of classic rap imagery imaginable, concurs that the business merger was completely organic. “This wasn’t something that was just we labored over for some time like a ‘3-year process’ that finally came into fruition,” Mannion recalls to Hip-Hop Wired. “This was sort of like, ‘Hey man, we value your voice and vision and want to curate a body of work of what you created that’s a little bit different than anything anyone has seen thus far.'”
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Photos: Epic Nights/Santiago Interiano, Hip-Hop Wired, Third Floor Netwoork, AKOO