SummaryJamaica, Queens, New York in the mid 1980s. Rappers and hip hop fans came from all over the city to get their own customized t-shirt by The Mighty Shirt Kings. The style traveled all over the world through record covers and music videos, and the Shirt Kings designs soon became synonymous with hip hop and the culture of making something out of nothing.
SHIRT KINGS: PIONEERS OF HIP HOP FASHION looks at the early days of urban fashion through the lens of the pioneering group of artists known as the Shirt Kings. By adapting the graffiti skills from the trains and spray cans to shirts and airbrush they created a new look for a new generation. At the same time they laid down the ground for the streetwear industry of today. Edwin PHADE Sacasa is a founding artist of the group and it is through his archives that we are transported to the 1980s in New York City where the fashion was loud, colorful, and filled with cartoon imagery; but not just any cartoon imagery for the cartoons where urbanized. Mickey Mouse with a Fila suit, Casper the Friendly Ghost with gold teeth and Pink Panther with gold chains.
People from across the city made their way to Jamaica, Queens to a small shopping mall known as the Coliseum where you could easily bump into the biggest names in hip hop of the day. From DJ Red Alert to LL Cool J to Big Daddy Kane to Mike Tyson – they all had to have their Shirt Kings designs. SHIRT KINGS: PIONEERS OF HIP HOP FASHION chronicles the art, the styles, and the people who where loyal supporters of the Shirt Kings, and takes us on a trip down memory lane to when customization and art reigned supreme in New York City.
Born in East New York, Brooklyn, Edwin PHADE Sacasa studied photography at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan and video production at the Savannah Collage of Art and Design. PHADE has been airbrushing for the entertainment industry for more than two decades and founded the Shirt Kings store in the mid 1980s, where he serviced many of todays hip hop stars and pioneers, such as Jay Z and Run DMC.