In 1992, nine (later to be ten) young men formed a hip-hop group out of Staten Island and called themselves Wu-Tang Clan. Two of the founding members, RZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, copped the name from Shaolin and Wu Tang, a 1983 film about a rivalry between a pair of Hong Kong martial arts schools. Their debut album played off the combative theme. Entitled Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), it’s considered one of the best albums in hip-hop history nearly 25 years later.
This isn’t just a history lesson. It’s some context for a menswear brand produced by RZA and Mustafa Shaikh that pulls “elements from hip-hop, Chinese culture, kung fu and high fashion.” (All their products are also PETA-approved vegan, which is pretty nice.) Now 36 Chambers has gotten together with the Asian Art Museum to produce a capsule collection; RZA credits the museum for giving the brand “an informative glimpse into the vast history and culture of Asian life.”
For example, the Emperors’ Treasures Souvenir Jacket features an elaborately embroidered Buddha guardian of metallic gold thread on the back, C/O Asian Art Museum Denim Jacket has hand-sewn beads inspired by a sculpture of a Buddhist deity out of the museum’s collection, Buddha Camo Tote blends the divinity with daily practicality and Emperors’ Treasures Black Wallet was created by artist Lu-Kesi, featuring five different original debossed seals. The result of the collection is like a culture-filled field trip mixed with some healthy rap nostalgia. Because when a museum is involved, it’s not appropriation—it’s straight-up respectful appreciation.
Available for $30 to $250 at 36 Chambers.