Onyia cofounded the site UpscaleHype in 2008 with his brother Kyle Onyia, focused on coverage of high-end men’s wear and celebrity fashion. The site includes some commerce with items such as Fear of God sneakers, along with accessories and UpscaleHype-branded product for sale.
The hire is a bid to tap an aesthetic relevant today in streetwear and what the company said is a move to reposition itself back in the category.
“The whole point of this [hire] is it really signals a sea change for the company and its progression into the future,” said chief executive officer Chelsea Grayson. “This is a real line in the sand and I was intent on that when I joined the company.”
The significance of Onyia’s hire is in the company’s aim to return to its roots in streetwear, Grayson added. It’s one of several steps being taken that includes a transition to limited-edition drops. On the product side, there will be less denim and more crewneck T-shirts, crewneck long-sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, outerwear and elevated fabrications, Grayson added, noting that pricing will remain the same.
Onyia’s touch on the product will likely start filtering into fall and holiday, but the spring collection is when his mark will truly be felt on the assortment, according to Grayson.
Onyia has worked with True Religion in the past, including as a brand ambassador when the brand linked with Travis Scott for an activation. He collaborated with the company on a limited-edition T-shirt and was later brought in during sketch and prototype reviews.
“Allen lives, eats and breathes streetwear and the streetwear aesthetic on all ends of the spectrum,” Grayson said. “So he knows how to dress it up, dress it down, make it more elevated or less elevated, and I really respect that fluidity in his style.”
While True Religion has had artistic directors in the past, Onyia is not succeeding anyone in the position.
The company, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2017, has been on a tear more recently, building out its internal infrastructure.
Onyia’s hire follows last month’s announcement the company tapped Paul Rosengard to serve as executive vice president of the North America wholesale and licensing business for women’s, men’s and kids. Rosengard, who is based out of True Religion’s New York office, came to the company after having worked at companies such as Perry Ellis International and Li & Fung Men’s.
The company this year also brought on Lauren Kraus as executive vice president and head of international sales, and Kristen Stewart to serve as vice president of e-commerce and marketing.