My first experience with the theater was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. I was seven years old and just discovering Nintendo, skateboards, and comics. The idea of dancing grown-ups playing make-believe on a stage sounded boring and strange. For some reason, my parents thought a musical could tame my brothers and I. Once the curtains drew open and the cast entered, the magic of the room hit me. I fell in love with the ritual (the Playbill, the red velour seats, the intermission bathroom breaks), the precision and uncorrectable nature of stage acting (no take backs! no replays!), and the live exchange between audience and actor. Since then, I’ve watched Phantom at least six more times in my life, as well as Webbers’ other musicals—Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and of course, Cats. I was even inspired to study theater in college.
I was not alone. Webber (who would go on to be the most successful composer of all time, one of fifteen EGOT [Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony] winners in history) transformed musicals in the 1980s. Kinda like how Hamilton has become a cultural touchstone today, Webber’s works transcended the theater and became rites of passage for young fans. The merchandise around the musicals was emblematic of youth fashion, like Astroworld concert tees in 2018. A Phantom satin jacket or a Cats tee were as ubiquitous in those years as big hair and stone-washed denim.
I’ve always wanted to do an Andrew Lloyd Webber collection for The Hundreds. I know it’s not as streetwear-friendly to our customers like a rap collab, but we intentionally select projects that speak to different tastes, backgrounds and communities to show the complexity of a very human brand. The old adage goes that all are welcome to the theater and just the same, all are welcome to The Hundreds. I feel like my parents at this point—I’m sure for many of you, I’m walking you into the theater for the first time. I hope you enjoy the show.
The Hundreds X Andrew Lloyd Webber drops this Friday, November 30, at The Hundreds Los Angeles, select retailers, and our Online Shop.
Photographer: Bobby Hundreds