To celebrate Def Jam Recordings’ 35th anniversary, Kith clothing have partnered with the iconic music label to craft a co-branded collection.
The centre-piece of this collaborative offering is an updated rendition of Def Jam’s coveted varsity jacket. Originally conceived founder Rick Rubin at the onset of the label, this storied jacket was given to artists and employees of Def Jam and was never intended to be made for the public.
35 years later, Kith has tapped Golden Bear to create an incredibly lux version with subtle updates. The jacket features a wool body with chain-stitch embroidery on the front, leather sleeves with chenille patches, and a chenille Def Jam logo on the back. Other styles included in this capsule are two Williams Hoodies and two Tees.
The Kith x Def Jam 35th Anniversary Capsule releases this coming Monday, 16 September, at all Kith shops and at 11AM EST from Kith’s official website.
According to the Def Jam’s official website, Rick Rubin came up with the idea for the jacket, which he says “wasn’t unusual at the time.” Other labels, DJs, and brands also made similar jackets. So Rubin, who infamously designed the Def Jam logo himself, decided his record label needed their own sartorial statement.
“I belonged to a DJ pool,” Rubin says. “Which was a group of 100 DJs… You’d pay dues to be in the pool, and the pool would get all of the advanced records from the record companies, and distribute them to all of the DJs to play in the clubs. It was not unusual for the guys in the DJ pool to have a jacket. And the jacket would be the name of the DJ pool and it would be kind of like a club.”
“Back in the 80s when we made those jackets, every record company had a jacket,” says Cey Adams, Creative Director at Def Jam from 1984-1999. “It was sort of standard. Profile had them, Tommy Boy had them, Columbia had them. It’s not an original idea. It was much more popular in the 80s. Recording studios had them. That’s where the idea came to do a Def Jam jacket.”
“I thought it would be really cool to do a jacket for our artists,” says Rubin. “For the people that worked at the label and for the artists. It was never meant to be anything that anyone else would have. The first round of jackets might have been 20.”
Just two years into its operation, Def Jam was exploding onto the scene and quickly becoming the undisputed best label in hip-hop, and the jackets became one of the hottest items in the streets. “Def Jam was a cool label,” says Adams. “Def Jam was a hip-hop label. It resonates in a different way. They were hot. They had hit records. Everyone wanted to be a part of Def Jam.”