MADE MOBB’s latest collaboration — an eight-piece streetwear collection with UMKC — is yet another full circle moment for co-founder Vu Radley, he shared.
The Crossroads-based apparel brand is planning a limited-edition drop Friday, featuring Radley’s alma mater and its iconic Roos.
“It’s one of those things that just makes sense,” explained MADE MOBB co-founder, who also is known as Vu Nguyen within the community. He likened the turn of events to MADE MOBB’s recent success getting its products into the new terminal at Kansas City’s airport — a place where Radley himself worked as a teenager.
“I love these full circle moments, especially UMKC,” he continued. “I came into UMKC not knowing anything about design; 10 years later, we’re doing our own clothing brand. Being able to collaborate with them was just a beautiful thing.”
The new collection is set to be launched 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 during UMKC’s takeover of MADE MOBB’s storefront on Southwest Boulevard. Similar to First Fridays at the retail-turned-gathering space, vendors and performers are expected. Except this time, they will all be students or alumni of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“Everybody involved is somehow involved with UMKC,” Radley added.
Most of the limited-edition collection will be available exclusively at MADE MOBB throughout October, he noted. An alumni shirt will also be sold at the bookstore on campus.
Past collaborators with MADE MOBB — one of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2023 — include the Kansas City Chiefs, Current, and Comets.
To develop the Roo-inspired designs, Radley said, he worked with the UMKC team of Sarah Dresslaer, Mike Duah, and Sarah Richardson, who taught him that a group of kangaroos is actually called a “mob.” This inspired the shirt designs with MADE scribbled out and replaced with ROOS.
“I was like, ‘No; go away,’” he recalled. “So I looked it up because I didn’t believe them.”
“We were like, ‘How perfect,’” Radley added.
The collection is also an expression of MADE MOBB and UMKC’s shared value of being “made for community,” Radley shared, with some of the designs featuring the MOBB scribbled out and replaced with FOR COMMUNITY.
“UMKC is in the community,” he continued. “It’s right down and by the Plaza, right in the city. It’s in Kansas City and often gets overlooked as an opportunity to stay within the city and go to a good school that provides really dope things.”
“We’re the same,” he added. “We’re in the Crossroads. We’ve always talked about working together with community, showcasing different vendors and our friends and family within our First Fridays events, working with different small businesses and big businesses in Kansas City to create the visual of two hands shaking. That’s always been the visual in my head. As somebody grows in Kansas City and that gets put on the map, everybody shines.”
“When we think about how we can have an impact and what we do in the community, it’s more than just shirts,” Radley continued.
With hand-drawn scribbles and sketches of the city incorporated in the collection, he said, it just made sense thematically to use the old-school, cartoon-looking Roo, inspired by Walt Disney’s depiction of the university’s mascot.
“It’s really just us having fun and being able to create something real simple and clean,” Radley explained. “And gives back to the idea of the fun portions of the cartoon side of things. Not everything has to be so serious.”
He teased that other evolutions of the Roos logo could be used in future collaborations.
“Most of the times when people are from KU, you know they’re from KU,” he said. “With UMKC, we’ve got to be proud of being a Roo and I’ve been seeing that more often. It’s like, ‘I graduated from UMKC.’ OK, ‘Roo up.’”
“So I’m just excited about the things that come from this collaboration, as well as other ones in the city,” he added. “Just being able to say that we’ve done this collab this year has been just another bucket list item.”