It seems, even with the rapidly growing popularity of Hip-Hop culture, nowadays the Hip-Hop pioneers are getting pushed to the side. But, one brand, that is making sure that those pioneers get their recognition, is The Originators. The purpose of the Originators brand is to tell the world about the early years of hip-hop and the people who founded the movement. The founder, Adam Bach, previously considered making movies to tell these stories but the proposition seemed too daunting so instead he started this t-shirt brand. The Originators is not simply profiting off these hip-hop legends though:
Every Artist involved in this thing, is under a per-unit licensing deal, so the Artist makes money on every shirt sold bearing their name and likeness. This was very important to us when setting up the company. I wanted the Originator to make money as the company made money. They do well as we do well, and that’s the way it should be.
The Originators brand has already honored Kurtis Blow, A Tribe Called Quest, Melle Mel, Grand Master Caz, the Cold Crush Brothers, Juice Crew, “Love Bug” Starski, GrandWizzard Theodore, Prince Whipper Whip, DJ Disco Wiz, Wanda Dee, and Writers, Tracy 168 and Taki 183.
Everyone from Jay-Z, Tracy Morgan, Snoop, Andy Milonakis, DJ Premier, Russell Peters, Antonio Pierce, Funkmaster Flex, Affion Crockett and many, others have worn their gear.
They opened up a flagship store late last year in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles and exclusively sells Originators’ clothes, skateboards, and more.
The Originators Store LA is located at:
142 N. Hayworth Ave.,
LA, Calif. 90048
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing the brains behind the Originators brand, Adam Bach. See what he had to say below:
HHD: It is obvious that hiphop and sports play a huge part in your designs. What is it about the hip hop culture that drew you to it? Were hip hop culture and sports a big part of your life growing up?
Adam Bach: I always wanted to do something positive in life. I remember growing up in Los Angeles and hearing Hip-Hop in the mid to late 80’s. Right off the bat Hip-Hop drew me in. The beat was infectious. The subject matter thought provoking. It opened up my world and informed me about what was going on in certain neighborhoods with certain people that I may not have otherwise had the opportunity to learn about. I realized early on that Hip-Hop was a Culture that could definitely unite people and could help to bridge gaps. It was when I realized the powerful impact Hip-Hop can have on people and communities that I knew it was for me, and I needed to make it a part of my life. Hip-Hop and Sports were a big part of my life growing up and have definitely manifested themselves in The Originators brand to date.
HHD: What are some of the most played artists on your iPod?
Adam Bach: Eric B & Rakim, Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Big Daddy Kane, N.W.A., Dilated Peoples, Planet Asia & the Gold Chain Military, Jurassic 5, Biggie, and Wu-Tang…
HHD: How did you get your start in design?
Adam Bach: I guess I have always been a creative guy with a good aesthetic in design. Early in my career I wanted to be a film director. I attended the American Film Institute and received my Masters degree in Film Directing in 2001. The American Film Institute allowed me the time to build upon my visual repertoire, while allowing me to learn the language and confidence in which to express it.
I am not a formally trained designer. I design based on what I think looks good and what I’d like to wear with what I think represents the brand in the best way. Just like anything, the more you design the better you become at it.
HHD: What would you say was your “big break”?
Adam Bach: I wouldn’t necessarily say there has been one “big break” in particular for The Originators. There has been a series of good fortunes that has allowed the brand to continue to grow at a healthy rate. This hasn’t necessarily been the easiest of things, but it has always been important to me and we have always been persistent to stay in the game. One early break we had was when I flew to New York in November of 2003 to meet with many of the early Pioneers of Hip-Hop. It was during this trip that I expressed my vision and direction for the brand. It was through these interactions that I felt the enthusiasm from the people that built Hip-Hop, and I knew I was onto something. I realized then that I couldn’t stop until this was realized and this was much bigger than me.
Another “big break” we had was when Jay-Z wore our Property of Hip-Hip shirt in Vanity Fair. The cool thing about this was that this was achieved not through giving a stylist one of our shirts, but by Jay requesting our gear because he was seeing and feeling it so much. Remember, this was at the height of Rocawear but Jay was requesting The Originators. This definitely served as motivation for me and the brand.
HHD: What artists/celebrities have worn your tees? If you could acquire anyone, what artist/celebrity do you think would be a perfect face for your brand?
Adam Bach: Everyone from Jay Z, Tracy Morgan, Snoop, Andy Milonakis, DJ Premier, Russell Peters, Antonio Pierce, Funkmaster Flex, Affion Crockett and many, many others have worn our gear. Because we represent Street Culture which is representative of so many things, I wouldn’t necessarily say there is one perfect face for the brand. The brand represents diversity, and this diversity makes it difficult to put only one face to the brand. I would say we only want people wearing our gear who know and care about what we represent. This is important to us.
HHD: What do you do to get past your creative blocks?
Adam Bach: When I experience a creative block I do one of the following: Smoke a joint, communicate my ideas with other people, sometimes walk away for a minute to clear the mind.
HHD: From what I can see, The Originators have a lot of classic t-shirt designs. What have been some of the most successful designs in your line? And your personal favorite?
Adam Bach: Some of our most successful designs to date have been: Native Tongues, Rulers, Property of Hip-Hop, Lakers Shoutout, Yankees Shoutout, Roberto Clemente, and more recently All-City and Crate Digger. I would say my personal favorites would be the shirts that represent the people that helped build Hip-Hop. Some of these shirts would include: Kurtis Blow, Cold Crush Brothers, Melle Mel, GrandWizzard Theodore, Jo Jo – Rock Steady Crew, Taki 183, Tracy 168, Stay High 149, & Phase 2.
HHD: If an artist or a company wanted to approach you with an idea or concept, how would they go about to do so? And has it been done in the past?
Adam Bach: We are always open to work with new Artists and look forward to future collaborations. I would tell any Artist to go to our websitewww.theoriginators.com and to make sure their design aesthetic works with ours. From there I would tell them to reach out to us. Last year we did a collabo tee with early Graffiti Artist Daze and we are still receiving inquiries on a daily basis on where to purchase it. We enjoy the process of working with Artists and our doors are always open.
HHD: I know you recently opened up a shop in California, when can we expect to see more locations? Where do you see your brand in the next few years?
Adam Bach: We are going to continue to grow at a healthy rate representing Street Culture to the best of our ability. We are moving into more cut-n-sew custom designs, and our skate division is definitely starting to pop. We are slowly becoming the skate brand of choice to the kids that weren’t skating much in my day, and we are relishing the opportunity.
We have made the transition to retailer and are certainly excited about opening up more stores around the country and the world. We would especially like to open up stores in New York, Paris, and Tokyo to name a few locations. Look for The Originators store nearest you…
To check out more of their tees, go to:
and follow them on twitter at