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Tru Kullaz - Layer Player
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some of our local Hip-Hop and R&B stars, including Bridgeport emcee Chase Davis, Stamford soul singer Keith Densmore and Norwalk songstress Rain, already have them. Big name national artists like Mary J. Blige and Jadakiss are clamoring to get their hands on them, or, more precisely, to get into them. The “them” in this case are Tiffany Martinez’s Tru Kullaz hoodies.

Martinez, a child of divorce who grew up in both Greenwich and Bridgeport, started Tru Kullaz two years ago after more than a decade in the entertainment industry as a celebrity stylist working with the likes of Cameron Diaz, Sarah Jessica Parker and Christina Aguilera. Hoodies were her first endeavor because according to Martinez “they never go out of style and I just thought how cool would it be to line the whole inside with detailing and vintage fabrics?” The immediate reaction was huge.

Bruce Miller, who is Mary J. Blige’s brother and a longtime friend of Martinez’s, wore a Tru Kullaz hoodie to a studio session with his sister and according to Martinez the reaction was priceless. “She was like, where did you get that hoodie? And Bruce said, my girl Tiffany I was telling you about. She was like, I want a hoodie!”

Another friend of Martinez’s who goes by the name Bop was also interested in wearing one of her creations. Bop is currently touring with Jadakiss as his hype man and for every show they do he can be seen wearing a Tru Kullaz hoodie. Word is Jada might be looking to outfit himself in one, as well.

Friends like Bop and Miller are helping Martinez get Tru Kullaz on more and more national celebrities, a group she’s used to dealing with thanks to her past as a stylist. It’s also a group Martinez has always had a great connection with. She remembers one particular session with Cameron Diaz where the There’s Something About Mary star was so comfortable that she ended up attempting to do a few Wild Style-like moves. “There was this break dancing shirt and she put it on and she started break dancing in the store. It was really funny.”

The idea for Tru Kullaz came to Martinez while she was styling Sylvia Rhone, who is currently the president of Universal Motown, and what has so many people interested in the hoodies is the vibrancy and uniqueness of each piece. “I’m all about color,” Martinez explains, “I love putting color on people. When I enter a room and I have something bright on everyone is like OH! It changes the mood.” In addition to the bright colors, Martinez adds a special touch to each Tru Kullaz hoodie, a special touch she first found while traveling in Mexico. “I found a lot of these appliqués with a lot of sequins,” she remembers, “so I was putting appliqués on the back of them (the hoodies), making them a little bit more flashy.” Martinez now has a group of people in Mexico who create custom appliqués for her so her hoodies can have that extra bit of flash.

Flash is actually one of the big attractions that draw recording artists to Martinez’s work. She figures that’s at least partially due to their chosen occupation. “Some people like to be on stage, they like to be known, seen, and some of the glitter, with the lighting and stuff, it looks great.” She points to the recently passed Michael Jackson as a huge influence on this type of fashion, noting “all of his jackets are all sequined. They’re very loud and they say a lot.”

Martinez’s path with Tru Kullaz has been one that’s been navigated with good friends by her side. Bruce Miller has seen the company grow since its inception. “He was with me when I designed my first sweatshirt,” Martinez remembers. Another person who was with Martinez at the start was her good friend Amy Meno. Meno, however, passed away last November as a result of being involved in a car accident while not wearing a seat belt. It took Martinez a substantial amount of time to get back to designing after the tragedy. “She was my muse,” Martinez mourns, “she was there at the very beginning. A lot of the clothing I made was based around her. I would always think, how would this look on Amy? She was someone that had a lot to do with Tru Kullaz.”

Pushing forward, Martinez knows she still has a lot to accomplish with Tru Kullaz. Not only does she have plans to expand the line past hoodies, but, in her own words, she wants to “do it all.” “I want to go into interior. I want to do a perfume line. After all this I would love to have my own record label and sing.” For now Martinez’s singing is reserved for her time in church, although she does have the pedigree for it as both her parents were singers.

Regardless of where life takes her next, it’s clear Martinez is serious when she says she feels Tru Kullaz is just a starting point for her. “I believe this is just an opening,” she says ebulliently, “this is just a stepping stone.” Before any of those next steps can be made, however, she has to get back to work on a few hoodies. Mary J. Blige and Jadakiss are waiting.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:41 AM  
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