Nas is capitalizing on the Nineties nostalgia wave.
The rapper and entrepreneur is teaming with The Thread Shop, Sony Music’s licensing and merchandising creative agency, to produce an apparel and accessories collection.
“The work Thread Shop is doing now is incredible,” said Nas. “They are the experts when it comes to strategic artist collaborations and were the obvious choice when I was looking to work with a full service creative agency. We are going to collaborate on a variety of projects this year. I’m excited for people to see what we have in store.”
This is a homecoming of sorts for Nas, who is currently under Mass Appeal Records but signed his first deal in 1992 with Columbia, which is a subsidiary of Sony.
“There is a resurgence of Nineties hip-hop as a trend and he’s definitely at the forefront of that,” said Frances Wong, vice president of The Thread Shop. “We are excited about reaching out to his fan base and continuing his legacy.”
In 2013 Nas launched Hstry, an apparel line he created with Grungy Gentleman. In 2014 he relaunched it as a stand-alone brand and last year he worked with Sony Pictures Consumer Marketing on a Hstry fashion collection to coincide with the film studio’s remake of “Ghostbusters.”
But Wong said this merchandise will be much different from Hstry and will be inspired by his catalog.
“It’s not just going to be album images on a T-shirt,” said Wong. “It’s about dissecting the messaging he has within his music and conveying that within the apparel.”
Wong said the distribution plan for this line, which will retail from $28 for a T-shirt to $350 for outerwear, will not follow a traditional retail calendar. There are plans to revamp the artist’s web store and align the releases with his marketing schedule whether that’s festival performances or new music.
“This reaches the Millennial because we are able to do quick drops,” said Wong. “These kids have disposable money and want to get things immediately.”
Wong started at The Thread Shop last year. Before that she served as vice president of design and merchandising at Bravado, which is owned by Universal Music Group. She’s also worked for RVC, Paper Denim & Cloth, Rocawear, French Connection, Calvin Klein and Bloomingdale’s.
According to Wong, in comparison to other merchandising agencies, The Thread Shop is interested in creating on-trend lifestyle collections as opposed to just placing graphics on T-shirts. The agency has produced collections for artists including Common, Bob Dylan, A$AP Rocky and Johnny Cash. The Thread Shop facilitated the build out for the A Tribe Called Quest pop-up shop last year and produced the merchandise.
For the past few seasons, concert merchandise or product that draws from Nineties hip-hop has moved past music venues. The Roc96 apparel collection started by Kareem “Biggs” Burke celebrated Jay Z’s first album “Reasonable Doubt,” while Supreme recently collaborated with Rap-A-Lot Records, a Houston-based label that helped catapult artists include the Geto Boys, Scarface, Pimp C and Bun B into stardom.
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