In a previous blog post, I mentioned I was inspired to restart my collection of curated and meaningful pieces last summer after I read Dapper Dan’s autobiography Made In Harlem and Bobby Kim’s This is Not A T-Shirt: A Brand, a Culture, a Community. If you read Dapper Dan’s book first and Bobby Kim’s second, you will be able to timeline starting from the 1970s to the present time, the evolution of fashion from Hip-Hop to becoming mainstream to what is now referred to as the genre of “streetwear.” There is no denying that without the art form of Hip-Hop along with pioneers of the fashion aesthetic of the genre from the likes of legends such as Dapper Dan and Shirt Kings, we would not have streetwear.
I am really thankful to have been given the opportunity of purchasing this as the first piece of my collection. I was able to obtain the t-shirt numbered 7 out of 24 signed by Shirt King Phade! When I received the artwork, I had a flashback that took me back to my youth from the first time I saw a place that sells and makes custom airbrushed pieces.
I was in the 5th grade at P.S. 95 and it was just a little over my first year living in Hollis. My family moved to a corner house on 184th street and 89th avenue. It was summer and I wanted to buy Gran Turismo. There were no stores that sold video games near me. The closest and only option is Toy’s R Us on Jamaica Avenue (also known as The Ave) or the surrounding stores. I remember my mother’s boyfriend taking me to purchase the game. I did not know a shopping area like this existed since what I knew at that time for shopping was either going to Queens Center Mall, JC Pennys, 82nd street, Corona or Junction since I lived in Jackson Heights prior to moving to Hollis. This was different because the kids at school would talk about who is shopping at spots and you see it in your favorite artist music videos from some heavy hitters such as Run DMC, LL Cool J, Ja Rule, 50 Cent and Nas to name a few. If you wanted to look your best and be the flyest, chances are you made the trip.
Shirt Kings is composed of three talented designers that went to the same high school together here in New York City, which is Manhattan High School of Art and Design. They are Shirt King Phade, Shirt King Kashmere and Shirt King Nike. I did my research and stumbled upon Shirt King Phade’s Instagram account. On 7.24.19, he made a post about dropping the Tisa x Phade x Chief Keef T-shirt he did for the collaboration. I commented and thought it would be cool if he would drop the shirt. Just seeing the quality and craftsmanship of the design I knew I had to have this in my collection. The next morning when I was getting ready to go to work and checking my dm, I had to do a double-take since it was from Shirt King Phade himself! He gave me instructions on payment and what size I would like for the shirt. I did not hesitate to send the money and the shirt came within a few business days.
The t-shirt itself is a testament to the mastery of his craft. Done with colored pencils, but his technique allows for the design to look as if it was airbrushed. If you want to wear art to showcase, but do not want to carry a painting or illustration, a piece by Shirt Kings is the best option.
I. Additional Information
The Shirt Kings are in a select space of artists where you can immediately determine just by design that the product is unique to them. If you want to learn more about Shirt Kings and Shirt King Phade, I have provided the links below. His latest collaboration is with Rock The Bells and they are taking orders. I highly recommend purchasing his book.
Shirt King Phade x Rock The Bells Collaboration: https://www.rockthebells.com/collections/collabos
The book can be purchased signed through his direct website: http://www.shirtkingphade.com/prints/shirtkings-pioneers-of-hip-hop-fashion-by-edwin-phade-sacada-amp-alain-ket
II. History & Intro Videos
Introduction To Shirt King Phade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWcjDyules0
History of Shirt King Phade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uqli-3MBwZ4&t=105s
III. Pusha T Jacket
Process of Creation: https://vimeo.com/148309439
Final Product: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQlymTV01ko