A seed was planted that fused and revolutionized Hip-Hop, clothing, and college enrollment all in one, May 14, 1991 at a clothing store on Georgia Ave, a block from Washington, D.C.’s Howard University. In ’91 most of us were fresh out of high school or busy just being born, but for many Hip-Hop was now a lifestyle. The lifestyle experienced a paradigm shift that had a heavy influence in the fashion world. Of course you had your clothing Gods like Dapper Dan, Triple Five Soul, Cross Colours and even Starter gear was exploding at an exponential rate. No other clothing line at the time tapped into the culture, caused a surge in enrollment at HBCUs and made furthering your education look way better than playing the corner like the brand AACA.
The face of the brand, Westchester’s own Chris Latimer, took the line from $600,000 in sales to $6,000,000 million! But.. before we go there, lets delve a little further into what AACA stood for, who was rocking the brand and how the entire Hip-Hop climate was inspired. African American College Alliance Clothing changed the perspective on marketing, owning, wearing and celebrating our own brands.
AACA came about when a group of Howard University Students strolled into one of DC’s hottest sneaker stores called Snyders which was owned by Mark Van Grack. The students saw the following colleges on the wall; Georgia Tech, North Carolina Tarheels, USC, etc., but they wondered to themselves why Howard University wasn’t on the wall, even though they we’re in Washington, DC. With that revelation, AACA was born and Snyders started producing a hoodie for Howard University. While contemplating how to truly make an impact, February of ’92 to be exact, Mark Van Grack hired Chris Latimer. Having already built a name from being one of Westchester and NYC’s top go to promoters they knew Latimer was the quintessential piece of the puzzle to drive the brand to the next level.
AACA immediately utilized his promotion and marketing savvy to build the brand. Their famous hoodies were spotted on everyone from Russell Simmons rocking one in his Black Enterprise Magazine cover shoot, to Biggie Smalls, TLC, SWV, Mary J Blige, LL Cool J, to West Coast Rap God Snoop Dog. AACA ruled The Def Comedy Jam stage almost every episode of their second season. The brand hit the stratosphere when Jada Pinkett Smith wore it on NBC’s hit TV show A Different World, Martin Lawrence on FOX’s Martin, Will Smith on NBC’s Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Queen Latifah on FOX’s Living Single.
The African American College Alliance clothing line was a big deal during the ’90s when groups like De La Soul, EPMD and A Tribe Called Quest permeated the airwaves. The line is marked by its signature logo patch on Hoodies and t-shirts from Universities like North Carolina A&T and Grambling State, along with Malcolm X College.
The dynamite had detonated! Hip-Hop now had clothing that re-instilled pride in ourselves and our schools. AACA was cool to represent from the steets to college campuses. This explosion could be felt all over the industry making way for brands like FUBU, Phat Farm, and many others. AACA was everywhere and on everybody. The demand became overwhelming and orders became hard to fill. In a perfect world that’s a good problem, but when your under financed it can deliver a blow most companies find it hard to recover from. Not long after changing the game, the game changed for AACA because of production issues and the company took a decline into the shadows.
The beauty of timeless apparel is it never loses value, even 25 years later for those who appreciate nostalgia, the love for great product never dies. African American College Alliance Clothing is BLACK, excuse me I meant back and better than ever. Launching this month with a Kickstarter campaign that allows you, the people, a chance to be a part of an ongoing legacy. AACA’s Kickstarter campaign will go down as one of the biggest African American Campains in history, that fact has already begun raising over $2000 in an hour!!! Support this Kickstarter campaign by putting one of the most influential HBCU pieces in your closet. The campaign ends Monday, April 18th but don’t wait too late missing out on an opportunity to be a part of our history, African-American history.
You can take comfort in knowing this company also gives back to our Historical Black Colleges and Universities with a 6-13% royalty and also will give scholarships to deserving inner city high school graduates.
“When bright young minds can’t afford college, America pays the price..”
~ Author Ashe
We attached the Kickstarter link to this article, all pledges are appreciated! We at Black Westchester support all of AACA’s endeavors and we already know the second coming will be larger than the First!!