“Back in the days I use to rock a troop jacket, me and everybody in my cabinet, we was shining, if you had the troop jacket you was grinding…”
Hip-hop and fashion have been intertwined since the genre’s inception. From it’s “costumey” beginnings, to its adoption of Adidas and gold chains – a style we still pull from today – it’s always been important to look the part. In the golden age of hip-hop, no brand stood more iconic than Troop Sport. It was the go-to brand and counted the likes of LL Cool J and Rakim among its brand champions.
Unfortunately, amidst unfounded – and untrue – rumors that it was owned by the Ku Klux Klan (amongst other things), the company went bankrupt. There had been a few attempts at reviving the brand, most notably by rapper Nelly in 2006 when he briefly reintroduced it into the market.
Enter David Goldberg. He recently acquired the brand and, 30 years after it’s original release, is bringing it back from the dead and onto the backs and feet of collectors and urban aficionados worldwide. I recently spoke to David about the brand’s resurgence. Check out the interview below.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Dave; I grew up in NYC in the late 80s/early 90s and Troop was one of my favorite brands. I have vivid memories of LL Cool J endorsing and wearing the brand, as well as my favorite artists of that time. It was marketed as a hip-hop brand and was the first brand to do so. The shoes weren’t marketed as athletic shoes; they were just meant more for fashion, and I think that was part of the reason it took off.
Can you talk about the legacy that Troop has in the landscape of hip-hop?
Troop was an important part of the golden era of the genre, as it exemplified the power hip-hop had to inspire an entire brand. Since Troop, hip hop clothing brands grew into a multi-billion dollar industry – but it all started out as Troop.
Who were some of the brand’s biggest advocates?
LL started wearing the brand on his own, and when he became one of the biggest artists, Troop signed him to a deal for his line of clothing and shoes. Today his old original signature products go for big money on eBay. Many other artists in that period wore the brand as well, like Stetsasonic and Marley Marl from the Juice Crew. In 2006, Nelly obtained the license for Troop apparel and brought it back to the market for a short period.
Can you describe the circumstances that led Troop Sport going bankrupt?
I was only about 9 or 10 when the brand died down, but from what I heard there were a lot of bad business decisions combined with unfounded rumors, and changing tastes of the consumer that lead to the brand dying out by the early 90s in America; however, Troop lasted longer in Europe than here surprisingly and had a strong run into the mid 90s. Today there are still a large number of Troop collectors from overseas.
Why have you decided to bring the brand back?
I decided to bring the brand back because I felt it would fit in well in the current marketplace given the current 80s/90s retro popularity for both shoes and fashion. It’s important that the product and brand stay true to the originals.
What products can we look forward to?
We’ll be debuting the footwear, starting with the Pro Edition Mid and Ice Lamb Low, in mid to late April in stores across the USA such as Villa, Jimmy Jazz, Dr.Jays and others – as well as online at worldoftroop.com. We had a limited retro leather jacket for sale at a few stores in NYC and Philadelphia the past winter, and it sold very well. In the future, we will be expanding the apparel line as well.
Good fashion never goes out of style!