EDWIN SACASA AKA SHIRT KING PHADE
Acrylic paint, airbrush & marker on archival digital pigment print, 13 x 19 in. Signed lower right.
“Used to be the shit, why they have to stop... Hit the Shirt Kings for an ill airbrush top." ("Queen's Day", Run DMC)
A unique Phade portrait of Darryl McDaniels aka DMC (founding member off Hip Hop group Run-D.M.C.). Phade has painted directly onto the photograph that he took of DMC in 1990, in his signature Shirt King Phade style.
In the early days of Hip Hop, a graffiti artist from New York known as Shirt King Phade created a following with his custom airbrushed t-shirts. In the Eighties, Edwin “Phade” Sacasa transferred his passion for graffiti from the surface of trains to the surface of t- shirts.
Fabric became his new canvas and soon enough, Shirt King Phade, along with his partners “the Shirt Kings”, transferred street culture and street art onto clothing becoming the first to commercialize their graffiti. Some say this was the birth of the streetwear concept.
Customization was the hallmark of the Shirt Kings. For every piece and customer, the graffiti was custom-made. Always painted with airbrush, the Shirt King style is immediately recognizable. Remixing pop culture elements and icons, we see Mickey Mouse sporting a gold chain while smoking, the Pink Panther reclining on a champagne bottle, and more. Through their vision, cartoons became badass, and a part of the foundation of graffiti streetwear.
After opening a store in Queens at the Coliseum Mall, the shop became iconic in the hip-hop scene, in the same way Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s SEX shop was to the punk scene. Some of the Hip Hop’s biggest stars began passing through their doors. From the likes of Jay Z, Jam Master Jay and RZA, Phade and the Shirt Kings’ apparel found their way into several of these artists’ visual media helping to create some of Hop Hop’s most iconic images.
Today, Shirt King Phade continues to work with the biggest names in Hip Hop, Hollywood, and beyond. His artwork has undoubtedly transcended boundaries, and influenced style movements. Phade has collaborated with the biggest names in streetwear including Supreme, Stüssy, Nike, Champion, and others.
See, Alan "Ket" Maridueña and Edwin "Phade" Sacasa. Shirt Kings: Pioneers of Hip Hop Fashion, 2013.