It’s been 10 years since 2 Chainz dropped his TRU REAligion cover-up mixtape showing the True Religion denim rapper from head to toe. The mixtape proved to be a boon to the artist as it prompted the release of her Grammy-nominated debut studio album. Based on a story from TRU. And, according to True Religion Creative Director Zihaad âZeeâ Wells, 2 Chainz has solidified the brand’s leading position in hip-hop and streetwear culture. âThe album art was such a recognition of the brand and its evolution,â Wells told Complex. “It was an honor.”
Over the past decade, 2 Chainz and True Religion have built an enduring legacy based on the idea of ââsticking to one’s roots. âMy style has evolved as have I,â says 2 Chainz. “[But] it has always been about being true to myself, standing out and separating myself from the crowd.
2 Chainz even made sure that âTRUâ finds its place in the name of his nonprofit and label, which supports both families and artists in Atlanta. âAtlanta was where it all started for me,â shares the artist, who was born in College Park just outside of town. “Do I need to say more? “
To celebrate all of this history, including the 10th anniversary of his mixtape, 2 Chainz and True Religion recently announced a new collection featuring exclusive products designed with the star. The items are officially available starting today in select stores, online, and at stops along Chainz’s five-city tour promoting the capsule collaboration, which kicks off in Chicago on November 23 and travels to in Myrtle Beach, Charlotte, Atlanta and Silver Spring, Maryland.
Keep an eye out for all the action with an ultra VIP after party event in Atlanta hosted by 2 Chainz himself. Then, once you’re ready to add denim to your cart, make the Super T Denim Jacket (a 2 Chainz favorite) your top priority. âDenim is timeless, it is almost impossible to spoil it,â adds 2 Chainz. âThe denim jacket and the trucker cap are essentials. “
All in all, it’s a wrapped up moment and the nostalgia hits hard. To learn more about how this collaboration came to life and what it was like to create with 2 Chainz, we reached out to True Religion’s Wells for an insightful behind-the-scenes convo below.
First of all, it’s amazing that you were at True Religion when the 2 Chainz mixtape came out in 2011. How was that moment for you?
I was the first designer ever to hire at True Religion. When I started with this brand in 2006, the founder told me that I had the right to do whatever I wanted, which is so rare. And we’ve built this huge audience. It was really exciting for me to see the brand evolve from that Malibu-based Californian vibe to something that was adopted by the street. [thanks to] artists like Chainz and Chief Keef.
Can you clarify what inspired this collaboration?
The cover of this mixtape was iconic without any help from us. [The collaboration] It was about recreating the nostalgia for that mixtape, while also making sure that we did something that feels like we’ve come together over the past 10 years.
So was it always part of the idea of ââusing the original cover art in everything you created?
Yes. We took his iconography and ours and mixed them together in a way that felt like it always had been. This is, for me, what you are looking for. As an example, we took our back patch with our arched logo, our Buddha, and ’round the world’, and mixed the best part of Chainz and the best part of us. So instead of just being True Religion at the top, it says TRU REALigion like the mixtape.
It was your first time working with 2 Chainz. Was there something that surprised you about his creativity or his sense of style?
For me, it’s the fact that 10 years later, as successful as he is, we are still important to him. He didn’t have to go back to True Religion. But for him, there is this thing of always being ‘TRU’â¦ he always talks about being true to himself.
How did 2 Chainz’s music influence the designs?
I think the music speaks for itself. Rather, it was about trying to bring together two icons, True Religion and 2 Chainz, in a way that felt natural. I think we did it with a nod to the past in a way that still feels relevant today.
What do you like about 2 Chainz’s style?
He doesn’t apologize for who he is the same way we are as a brand. If you love us, you love us. If you don’t like us, you don’t like us. We do not care. Chainz has exactly the same attitude. He also talks about straddling the line between arrogant and confident. And I think that’s who we are as a brand.
What do you hope people take away from this collaboration?
That we are here to stay. And we pay attention to what the people who love us have to say and what they want to see from us. People were shouting all the time, “Hey, you know what, you gotta collaborate with 2 Chainz?” And we listened. I believe that as a brand, giving your customers what they want in a way that is genuine and true to you is where your longevity lies.
Are you planning to do other partnerships like this?
Absoutely. And I don’t want to be a brand that takes a logo and puts it next to our logo, just for the sake of it. It should be something that feels natural. For example, when we find artists who personalize our products, we try to work with them instead of just knocking them out. Obviously, there is a trade-off in that we can relate to their audience and they can broaden their range by working with us. Hopefully, through continued partnerships, we will all be successful. And so far, [we] has been. Take BluBoy, which adds tons of fixes to our products. The denim we just made with him sold out in 13 minutes. And the full collaboration ran out in three hours.
Finally, what is your favorite piece from the collection?
I love the band t-shirt, which is a throwback to the hip hop merch t-shirts of the early 2000s, the hoodie, and the denim jacket is by far my favorite piece. We took our backpatch and added Chainz’s logo and name to it. He glanced at it and thought, ‘I love this. That’s crazy. Can you put this on the back of the jacket? I want to wear this on tour. We hadn’t thought of doing it like this oversized patch until he suggested it, but we did. And it looks fantastic.