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On September 18, Adidas honored pro skateboarder Tyshawn Jones with a mural in the Bronx, the neighborhood he grew up in. It was another milestone in the 22-year-old’s long list of accomplishments. Jones’ painting, which was on a brick wall, was surrounded by beautiful shrubs and a phrase that read “Black Excellence is Dreaming Big”. It demanded attention, but streetwear fans with a keen eye also noted Jones’ outfit – a faded purple zipper with the recognizable True Religion Buddha logo embossed on the chest in red. The main difference, the arched red text read “Supreme” not “True Religion“.
Supreme collaborating with true religion? Granted, the couple aren’t the one that immediately springs to mind, but given Supreme’s penchant for focusing on cultural touchpoints in New York City and hip-hop, the connection makes sense. Founded by Kym Gold and Jeff Lubell in 2002 in Vernon, Calif., True Religion jeans quickly became a uniform in neighborhoods like Harlem, thanks in large part to Juelz Santana and Jim Jones, who wore the brand throughout the years. 2000s. In the years that followed, True Religion’s relationship with hip-hop would grow even stronger. The cover of 2 Chainz’s 2011 mixtape TRU REAligion was designed to emulate the brand’s branding and featured the rapper wearing the brand’s all-denim fit. Chief Keef frequently rocked Trues during his appearance in the 2010s and even had a song called “True Religion Fein” on his 2012 tape. Back from the dead.
As quickly as the brand grew in importance, it eventually fell. In 2013, the brand was sold to TowerBrook Capital for $ 835 million. In 2017, the brand filed for bankruptcy. In 2019, the brand was trying to make a comeback. UpscaleHype co-founder Allen Onyia has been appointed as the new art director in hopes of connecting with the same consumers who interact with its popular online platform. To this day, Oniya appears to have no further affiliation with the brand. Zihaad Wells also returned in 2019 as Creative Director of True Religion. He first worked as the brand’s design director from 2006 to 2016 before leaving the company. The goal was that he could help put the brand back where it was during August. In 2020, True Religion again filed for bankruptcy. Trying now to channel the energy that once made the brand so desirable and capture the attention of a new generation brings us to this week’s announcement.
On September 27, the rumors were confirmed. Supreme took to his Instagram page to reveal that the collaboration was official. The collection consists of denim trucker jackets, matching cargo pants, zip-up hoodies, caps and beanies. Recognizable True Religion hits like large contrast stitching and horseshoe pockets are present, but with a supreme touch in the form of all-over camo prints or pink mineral washes. For Wells, the collaboration was “the perfect match”. Released earlier this morning through Supreme’s retail channels, the entire collection sold out in 10 minutes.
Due to the supreme collaboration, the name of True Religion is back in the news cycle. The collaboration also comes as the pop culture era Y2K continues to firmly assert itself as the latest trend. Contrast stitch denim and recognizable True Religion logos were a big part of this uniform. At the same time, Wells remains committed to the future. While a project with Supreme comes with a cache that few other collaborations can provide, True Religion has also worked with many small designers such as New York DIY designer Madeline Kraemer or choreographer Kida the Great on more limited offers that bring a youthful lens to the product. Whether True Religion is able to regain the status it occupied in the 2000s remains to be seen, but Wells says the future is bright. He’s just happy people are talking.
“I think it’s a brand forever. I really do. I haven’t seen this brand go anywhere, but we have such a loyal following, ”Wells told Complex. “Here’s the thing, people love us and people hate us, but they have an opinion about us. And I’d rather people have an opinion about us than to be a brand that doesn’t matter, a brand that people don’t care about.
Ahead of the release of the Supreme x True Religion collaboration, we had the opportunity to sit down with Wells to discuss how the project came together, loyal supporters of the brand in New York and beyond, from the resurgence of Y2K fashion, and more. Check out the conversation below.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)