Cross Colours Is Back! 6 Questions With Co-Founder And Designer TJ Walker
In a time where streetwear was still dominated by the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren (and all very beige …), a pair of young entrepreneurs in Downtown LA stepped onto the scene to try their hand at creating something completely unique in the market. TJ Walker and Carl Jones’ brand, Cross Colours, rose to the top almost instantly, outfitting the hottest celebrities (like TLC and Tupac) and spreading positive messages that aimed to unite multiple cultures and backgrounds. The rapid rise and equally rapid fall of the brand has been an enigma in the streetwear industry for more than 20 years, and to the delight of the loyal fans—as well as the new generation of ’90s loving, fashion-forward youths—Cross Colours is back and aiming to be better then ever.
Being the loyal, ’90s-obsessed fashion fan that I am, I was super excited to chat with co-founder TJ Walker about the rise, the fall and the comeback of the brand that revolutionized streetwear—and about Cross Colours’ St. Louis premiere at Graphic! on June 12.
ALIVE: What happened to Cross Colours? Where did the brand go?
Walker: We were very popular in the early ’90s and we grew really fast, but our main retailer (Merry Go Round) went bankrupt. It was a large part of our business—so when they went bankrupt, things sort of spiraled downhill very quickly and we didn’t have enough cash on hand to recover. We were young, and inexperienced in the ways of reinvesting in ourselves. We just said “yes” to everybody. Due to that, we lost our copyright to the brand. But we acquired it back and are ready to start again.
ALIVE: How are you guys using your past experience to fuel the brand into the future?
Walker: The one main thing we have learned from the experience is learn how to say “no.” We both have been working in the industry in some capacity this whole time, so among just generally being more aware of how to build a brand, saying “no” has become important. I think the big mistake for us what just saying “yes” too much, trying to fill all of the orders and meet the demands of retail. But now, things are so different. You can actually build a platform on social media and also build your own info-structure with minimal cost these days. It will allow us to have a better control over the brand.
ALIVE: Will fans of the brand notice any changes or differences between the original Cross Colours brand from the early ’90s and the new collection of today?
Walker: You know the thing is, we found that even people who weren’t around at the time the brand originated still want the same things we made the first go-round. They are so familiar with the line as it was, they want to see the same product again. We will be making some updates of course: Slimming the silhouettes to make things less baggy and more form fitting, really get into the womenswear market and bring back our childrenswear line, which was also very popular for us.
ALIVE: That’s the perfect way to come back! You have also been approached by several current streetwear brands who are interesting in supporting the Cross Colours mission and teaming up. How did the collaboration with The Hundreds come about?
Walker: They actually contacted us and wanted to do a collaboration, and because they already have a store here in Los Angeles, they began putting the brand collab announcement in the stores and put up billboards, and now you can find the line in their retail store as well. Everything was really word of mouth which is exactly how it was in the ’90s. Everyone was so willing to help out and really wanted to be a part of the brand.
ALIVE: How do you feel like the changes in the industry, most specifically social media—will affect the brand’s relaunch and the new generation of Cross Colours?
Walker: It already has impacted us in a huge way. We did a soft launch back in November of last year and started to build our social following at that time. We have been using it as a tool to get the word out—and we use it a lot. It has helped us network and reach our fans in a whole new way.
ALIVE: Any last words for your STL fans?
Walker: We had a lot of love and support years ago and we are looking to get that support again, stick by the positive messages of the brand and spread the love. We use the brand not only for retail and all that but also to get the message out. It’s an important message of equality and positivity that people really need right now. We are really excited to see what’s next.
To see Cross Colours make their St. Louis debut, snag your tickets to Graphic! on June 12 on the Atomic Cowboy patio. Ya dig?