How MADE MOBB’s Vu Radley Changed KC’s Streetwear Scene

UMKC alum releases exclusive UMKC merch only available at inaugural Roos Mobb event
Picture of Made Mobb co-owner Vu Radley wearing a UMKC and Made Mobb hat

Did you know that a group of kangaroos is called a mob?

Well, UMKC alum Vu Radley (B.A.’12) had no idea when he started MADE MOBB with his friends 10 years ago.

The streetwear brand is known for its collaborations with various Kansas City businesses, including the Chiefs (now a UMKC partner), KC Current and Café Ca Phé.

Like kismet, the brand is now collaborating with UMKC for its very first Roos Mobb event. The vendor market event, featuring various alumni-owned businesses, took place on Fri., Oct. 13 at MADE MOBB’s space in the Crossroads Arts District.

Now that Vu has come full-circle with UMKC merch and an exciting event partnership, we sat down with him to reflect on how he and MADE MOBB grew to where they are now.

How did MADE MOBB start?

MADE MOBB started in 2012, although we did not drop our first capsule collection until 2013. It was right after I finished my degree in Studio Art at UMKC.

I was working at a corporate job when I met two guys (Mark Launiu and Jesse Phouangphet), and we all came up with the idea to start a business. The financial background and events experience from the two, combined with my experience of printing DIY shirts in high school, formed the foundation of MADE MOBB.

We started working weekly on it as a passion project to simply celebrate our love for streetwear and design. It was what we did after we clocked in our 40 hours at the jobs we were in at the time. But now, it’s what we live off of as a full-time business.

Did the streetwear initially start off as KC-based?

Our x KC x design created in 2013 was one of our first KC products, and is now one of our signature designs. But, it wasn’t until 2015 after the Royals win when wholesalers began to pick up our products and focused specifically on our KC designs. That was also when the KC local-wear scene started to kick off, and we started incorporating more Kansas City elements into our pieces.

Vu Radley sitting on a couch posed with two Made Mobb and UMKC hats.
How did your experience at UMKC impact the success of MADE MOBB?

Although I grew up with the arts, I never really thought about the digital side of it, which was why I took classes like introduction to graphic design and typography at UMKC. These classes changed my view on graphic design and made me realize it was a space I could get into and build a career.

UMKC was also where I was able to sharpen my design chops and learn important skills, such as how to put a design together that goes to print. The classes I took, from drawing classes to art history classes, made me realize that I might have found my career path.

There is a lot of KC influence in your collaborations. Could you talk more about that and where you see it going in the future?

MADE MOBB has always been about collaboration. There is a lot of talent in Kansas City, and it is fulfilling to be able to support the community and elevate Kansas City businesses, especially small businesses, whether that is with a capsule collaboration or having them pop up in our space. I want to continue doing this and also focus on collaborating with not just businesses, but also local Kansas City creatives.

With the community, we want to continue hosting events. First Fridays was one of the first events we held, even back at our Grand Street location. It’s our favorite time of the month. We have food trucks outside and 15-20 local vendors that pop up in our shop and sell their own stuff. We have local artists performing their own sets too. We want all our people in our space to show us what they are working on, while also sharing what we are working on. 

What were you most excited about with the Roos Mobb event?

Graduating from UMKC and then being able to do a collaboration with them 10 years later is just a full-circle moment. A lot of things have happened in my career that have made sense, and this is definitely one of them. So, I was excited to see this event come to life.

Also, having businesses that I did not know were UMKC-alum owned popping up at the event was exciting.There is a lot of talent from UMKC alumni who are still in the city, and it’s something not a lot of people are aware of unless an event like this happens.

As part of 2024 KC Design Week, Vu and some of the UMKC staff invovled with Roos Mobb had a chance to speak on a panel to discuss how the collaboration came to life.

Published: Sep 19, 2023

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