10 years ago, Chief Keef proclaimed himself a “True Religion Fein” over a Young Chop instrumental filled with heavy-hitting snares and bells. Just 16 years old at the time, he was already becoming the face of Chicago’s bubbling drill music movement. And “True Religion Fein” wasn’t just a clever nickname. The cover of his 2012 mixtape Back From the Dead featured him posing in a V-neck T-shirt with the brand’s horseshoe logo stamped on the chest and he wore their signature denim in videos. The influence his co-sign had can still be seen in 2022. Over the phone, Chief Keef recalls a group of young white rappers he stumbled upon recently on YouTube still mimicking his original sound and even dressing like him.
“Oh my God. He sound like the old me. It seemed like he was stuck in 2013,” says Chief Keef. He begins to laugh as he explains the video. “They all dressing how I used to, rapping how I used to, it is crazy. And it’s brand new, like this year. They still wearing the same fits. The jean jackets, the baseball shirts, the jeans, it’s crazy, man. Still to this day.”
Chief Keef’s ties to True Religion were not official back in 2012, but there was no denying that the California-based company benefited from his support. He says when he finally got some money that all of it was being spent on its jeans and shirts at the time. After years of rocking the designer and influencing his fans to follow suit, he is officially collaborating with True Religion.
“It’s always been a dream to work with True Religion since back when I made the song,” says Chief Keef when speaking to Complex over the phone about the upcoming release slated to hit True Religion’s web store on May 5. While the 26-year-old artist rarely does interviews, he seems particularly engaged. He’s most enthusiastic when discussing the upcoming collab. “I told them I started designing and wanted to do a collab and work on some stuff. And they was down to let me do it. They gave me full creativity to do it all. I just went to work.”
The collection consists of denim jackets, jeans, T-shirts, and loungewear like sweatpants and hoodies. They gave each item a unique flare with details including flames, cartoon skulls, hearts, and phrases like “TRUEEE” running up pant legs in colorful bubble letters. To Chief Keef’s loyal fanbase, the look may be familiar to his solo clothing ventures with Glo Gang and recently launched Bad Weather. This wasn’t just a big artist putting his name on a collaboration. Chief Keef designed the entire thing.
“We really look at True Religion as this blank canvas. We hand our brand over for other people to interpret it and see it through their lens. It was amazing to have Chief Keef look at it through his lens,” says True Religion creative director Zihaad Wells. The partnership aligned nicely as the denim line’s 20th anniversary just so happens to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Chief Keef’s “True Religion Fein.” “We’ve just become synonymous. You think Chief Keef, you think True Religion.”
The capsule is the latest example of True Religion trying to push its way back into the fashion zeitgeist. Back in 2021, it released a collab with Supreme that sold out in mere minutes. A few months later, it tapped another rapper known for his love of the brand, 2 Chainz, for an official release to commemorate his 2011 mixtape T.R.U. REALigion.
“There are these parallels that happened alongside the brand. As a brand, you stay true to who you are and you don’t try to jump on a bandwagon with Chief Keef, or 2 Chainz, or whoever. You appreciate what they bring and how they represent the brand, but you keep doing what you do,” says Wells when discussing the impact that certain artists have had on True Religion’s success throughout its history. “Being our 20th anniversary, being able to acknowledge those artists that have stood by this brand for the last 10 years, I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Ahead of the Chief Keef x True Religion launch, we spoke with Chief Keef for an exclusive interview about what this collab means to him, the influence he’s had in music and fashion, the evolution of the drill genre, and more.