We know y’all remember these sweats right?
African American College Alliance (AACA Clothing) is a brand hailed for its self-starting youth movement stemming from 1991. Birthed in a period of time where hip-hop was defined by it’s cultural impact and Historical Black Colleges and Universities, AACA rose to the top, quickly garnering attention and support from the most influential artists of all time, including Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., N.W.A., Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J and more. Their famous hoodies branded with the logo’s of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Howard University, North Carolina A&T, Grambling State and Malcolm X College, was a true proponent of the positive youth movement of the 90’s. This brand led to an enrollment explosion in HBCUs from ’91 – ’94.
In celebration of their 25th anniversary, AACA Clothing is re-launching the brand via a Kickstarter campaign, giving room for supporters and backers to reignite the youth and take ownership in the start-up of the African-American owned clothing brand.
This Kickstarter campaign will offer ultra-contemporary gear including the classic AACA logo’d hoodies, hats and for the first time in 20 years, the AACA sweat suits. The pledge of purchase amount to support the campaign range from $10 to $10,000 and will conclude on April 18th, 2016 at 10:00am.
For more information on our Kickstarter Campaign or to make a donation, please visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1619973101/african-american-college-alliance-clothing
Hit the flip for some details on the man behind the return of AACA!
Above the influencers, cool kids and various gatekeepers are men like Chris Latimer, a marketing pioneer and purveyor of branded dope, the man who revolutionized the way companies sell clothing, market alcohol, execute event marketing, advertise in media, and communicate with America’s largest consumer base: African-Americans. After spending the last twenty-five years defining and curating branded marketing, Latimer is now returning to his roots: the apparel business. 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the iconic African American College Alliance (AACA) Clothing Brand––the hoody line that took a sports jersey approach to honoring historically black universities and found its mammoth fame on the backs of black genius like Tupac, Biggie, Martin Lawrence, LL Cool J, Snoop Doggy Dog and Russell Simmons. Originally AACA’s Marketing Director, Latimer is today the owner of the brand he single-handedly carried to cultural and million-dollar dominance two decades ago.
The legend of Chris Latimer began around the mid-eighties in his New York native of White Plains. As a teen DJ and then promoter, he would produce some of his hometown’s very first rap performance parties, bringing greats like Big Daddy Kane to his community. The future mogul took his passion for music and young promo skills to Howard University where he’d receive his first taste of a melting pot’s marketability. After making a name on campus for throwing the grandest of parties, he returned to New York and landed a Director of Promotions gig at Big Beat Records, making him Upstate NY and Howard University’s original Sean Combs. Turned out that the record biz was too restricting for Latimer’s array of talents. A chance meeting in 1992 with the owner of African American College Alliance led to a marketing head position at the brand. In mere months, he would outfit Mary J Blige and all of her dancers in AACA hoodies for the award-winning “Real Love” video. Soon after, other visuals for classic songs like Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “T.R.O.Y,” TLC’s “Baby Baby Baby” and 95 South’s “Whoomp There It Is” would also feature the vivid threads. Primetime television stars like Will Smith (Fresh Prince of Bel Air), Martin Lawrence (Martin), Jada Pinkett Smith (A Different World) and Queen Latifah (Living Single) began rocking the street’s hottest gear on screen. In six months, AACA sales went from 600,000 to six million, influencing the birth of other urban clothing lines like Phat Farm and FUBU.
In true Chris Latimer fashion, his reach and rolodex outgrew his AACA employer. So he launched his own marketing company, Da Streetz Inc. With a finger firmly planted on the market’s sweet spot, the new boutique not only generated new business, but, more impactful, ignited new trends in product placement (syncing actual Tanqueray bottles with Snoop’s lyrics in the “Gin & Juice” video), apparel (hockey jerseys worn by the hip hop community), sports marketing (brokered the first ever deal of a corporate brand with NYC Streetball at Rucker Park with Reebok) and liquor promotion (music industry parties with single spirit-sponsored bars). All the premium brands––Reebok to Adidas to The Source Magazine to Bad Boy Records––began clamoring for Chris’ wisdom and powerful network.
In 1996, Latimer launched and then soared the tropical version of Jack the Rapper meets Budweiser Superfest, the “Cancun All-Star Fiesta,” which helped break artists like Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, Nelly and Ja Rule, until 2004. He then craved that old thing back. So in 2006 he began the process to attain ownership of his original employer AACA. In 2015, the brand that put Chris on the map (and vice versa) became his own. Now, in the clothing line’s silver year, the maverick intends to do what he’s done his entire career: seamlessly “morph” the legendary brand into today’s market. While 25 years ago, the ethos was a prideful celebration of black education; today Latimer feels the need for AACA is far greater. The stakes are higher––since 1994 the percentage of African-American Male High School Graduates who enter college has only risen by a single point. With young Black lives becoming increasingly disposable in America, the youth are in need of a brand that they can stand behind, that will represent them. “Right now, kids in our community need a hero more than ever,” says Latimer, who has recently adorned rapper Big Sean and TV and Radio personality Charlamagne Tha God in his refreshed line. “With apparel brands, you don’t have to worry about the hero doing drugs or being politically incorrect or selling out. AACA Clothing and myself have the opportunity to change the lives of kids who are just wasting theirs away because to them higher education is wack!