Golden Eras are marked by more than their star players, and here’s a recent batch of photos unveiled by streetwear brand Stussy to support that claim. Images of innovative MCs like Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Heavy D, Red Alert, Flavor Flav, and Queen Latifah alongside future superstars like Jay Z and comedian Chris Rock capture the 80s aesthetic and indicate just how close inner circles were at the time.
The forefather of the hip-hop brands (arguably the real street wear companies) that would boom in the 1990s — whether it was PNB Nation, Phat Farm, Too Black Guys, Triple 5 Soul, Cross Colors or FUBU — was a spot called Shirt Kings in Jamaica Queens’ Colosseum Mall run by Edwin “PHADE” Sacasa, Rafael “KASHEME” Avery and Clyde “NIKE” Harewood. PHADE had been putting in work on trains with legends like KASE 2 after a move from Brooklyn to the Bronx in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until he took his skills to cotton in 1984 that he realized graffiti on apparel could be a lucrative endeavor, “Seeing the reaction to my graffiti pictures in school gave me the confidence to know I had something.” The move from spray can to airbrush wasn’t too severe a transition, “It was the same just a little bit more detailed.”
Peep the pics in the gallery on the following pages. Peep the clothing collection at Stussy’s website.