The denim and lifestyle brand tapped London artist Soldier for a new apparel collection. The line of denim jackets, jeans, T-shirts, hoodies, cargo pants and hats integrates a creative vision derived from Soldier’s Nigerian heritage and skateboarding expertise.
Born Leonard Iheagwam, Soldier said he began gravitating to camouflage cargo pants as they entered the pop-culture lexicon through the hip-hop scene of the 1990s and early 2000s. But he ran into trouble adopting the look for himself. Soldier was stopped by the Nigerian military in Lagos and forced to strip down—an event that would later influence his art and fuel a lasting fascination with camo prints. The artist said his take on the motif aims to subvert its traditional use by inspiring peace and unity.
“The aim of my paintings is to serve not only as a hiding place with its symbolism but also as a way to reveal a whole culture and create a new meaning, taking the normal military theme that represents violence and creating a more beautiful meaning,” he said.
True Religion has long employed camouflage prints in its designs, and while they remain a “part of True Religion’s DNA, today’s headlines have made us look at them differently,” said Zihaad Wells, senior vice president and creative director. “When we learned about Soldier’s story and how he uses camo as a message for peace, we knew this was the right partnership for us.”
All sales from the eight-piece menswear collection will benefit War Child USA, a humanitarian group supporting children and families affected by military conflict. The organization aims to create safe spaces for individuals who have been displaced by war, and help kids get back to school. According to War Child USA’s data, one in every six children lives in a country affected by fighting or hostility, and a child is driven from home every four seconds.
Soldier called the collaboration “a way I could give back to a community I grew up in.”
“Partnering with True Religion, a brand whose identity in the hip-hop scene is unmatched, was an important career milestone for me,” he added.
Wells said the project embodies True Religion’s values, while also giving an emerging artist a platform for international influence. “We’re proud to partner with a young, upcoming designer who is also passionate about giving back to those in need,” he said.
The full range is available Tuesday on True Religion’s website and retails for $69-$259.