This is the history of an OG British streetwear brand born in London’s underground – the swag bags, the robberies, the rappers. This is the story of Money.
At the end of the millennium, nobody really knew what was going to happen next. The lead up to the year 2000 was dominated by fears that computer systems would crash, causing hundreds of billions in financial damage. Some people thought that the apocalypse was coming. Social media wasn’t here yet, but the internet was, and while the world didn’t end, our planet was changing.
It was around this time (nobody can really remember the exact dates) that Money launched, the UK’s first major streetwear brand. It arrived at a time when London’s streets were dominated by American clobber and quickly became uniform for the city’s rappers and grime crews, the brand’s credentials spreading via word of mouth in the pre-Instagram era. Money’s t-shirts and hoodies were everywhere in London’s culture – the parties, the radio stations, the studios – a logo that firmly embedded itself within the city’s underground.
After meeting UKG legends So Solid Crew at a Top Of The Pops afterparty, a strong relationship developed between the collective and the brand, leading to an iconic shoot featuring So Solid members photographed in Money sweatshirts next to a Ducati with the brand’s logo on it. On the other side of the Atlantic, 50 Cent was repping Money in the club and in 2004 Money arrived in some of Italy’s best fashion stores like Penelope and Gerard Loft. While the brand’s roots were in London, by now it was making a mark around the world.
Back home, the brand was gaining notoriety in the British press for its cash-studded products, which caused as much commotion in the retailers as it did the tabloids. Having sold direct in the UK for two years, Money launched in Harvey Nichols in 2007 with the $100 jeans, trousers that came with a legitimate bill sewn into the pocket, but problems arose when the store discovered that the store’s cleaner was slicing notes out and replacing them with photocopies. This would prove to be one of Money’s most renowned products, selling thousands of pairs, and a prototype for the way they approached putting cash in their collections, which was never counterfeit, even if they used many different currencies. They estimate that they chopped up over 100,000 dollar bills to use as appliqués without realising it was illegal, lying to the travel agents that all this foreign money they needed was for a Greek wedding.
Money’s most famous product is arguably the 2007 Swag Bag, lined with 24 $100 bills and decorated with 18 carat, gold-plated rivets. It hit the market for ten grand and caused security problems at the Money warehouse, which was broken into multiple times as people risked jail to get their hands on the much-coveted bag. The brand got people talking yet again when it designed one of the world’s most expensive belts, released in Selfridges for £20,000 and signed by the Sex Pistols, leading the Daily Mirror to write the (really good) headline “Waist Of Money”.
Money has always managed to sit as comfortably on the streets as it has in the mainstream, worn by rappers like Stormzy, Dave and J Hus, pop stars like Zayn Malik and actors like Jamie Winstone, Tom Hardy and Idris Elba – always remaining a consistent presence in Britain’s recent cultural history.
As Money gears up to celebrate 20 years of the brand, they’re looking ahead to the next two decades. Expect more outlandish drops, link ups with artists around the world, and some classic reissues. This is the story of Money.