Streetwear saved my life because streetwear is my life – Freddie Rojas of Rojas Clothing
As I navigated my way through Agenda Festival in Long Beach, California this past weekend, there was so much to take away from amongst the hundreds of street-wear/skate culture influential brands and the people that formed them. Being that it was my first time attending Agenda, I felt like it was only right to visit the crème of the crop of skate-culture and streetwear which included stopping by to talk to 321 Clothing, Diamond Supply, skater Blake Johnson, Chinese Laundry, Rojas Clothing, and Reebok‘s collaboration section with Melody Ehsani. Although the reps for these brands were entirely different from one another, they all shared one thing in common, their love for street wear.
While trying to figure out where I was and the letter system of the whole shebang, I came across my first stop, 321 Clothing where I stopped and spoke with brand manager Amand Sawyer. After him giving me details on his educational background, I asked where he would be without streetwear and answered “I’d probably be getting my masters” but so much more came through that exact conversation that I didn’t exactly see coming. Being that he mentioned his interest in getting his masters, I asked if he felt like streetwear as a whole was becoming saturated and he truthfully answered “yes” but also provided reasoning on why streetwear is so influential to his identity as well as others as well and the opportunity it makes room saying
“I feel like streetwear on it’s own is saturated but people cling to it because you can find your own sense of fashion through streetwear which comes with massive opportunity”
Following that statement alone , I asked if getting into the business of streetwear was more of an option or a necessity of becoming apart of and for Amand, it’s more so of an option. While talking to me about his brand, he told me that for now streetwear is his outlet into becoming apart of the fashion industry saying “It’s kind of hard getting into the fashion industry as a black man so right now I’m just allowing my outlet to put me where I want to be”. All of a sudden things started to click more me like… what kind of hoops did Kanye, Virgil Abloh, Pusha T, and Chris Brown have to jump through just to make their fashion dreams into a reality ? What does that say about the fashion industry if they’re making it difficult for people of color to navigate from streetwear into high fashion? In 2017, these are questions that still need answers.
Next, I had to stop by the pop-up for Diamond where I found Terence Frazier and marketing director Pollo. My question to them of course was “where would you be without streetwear?” Pollo and Terrance both agreed that for them it was skating that came first for them but because of their love for skate culture, it led to a passion for streetwear which soon turned into a career involving traveling plans for all over the world for their brand. Before running off to meet another brand associate, Pollo refreshingly expressed to me that “Without the streetwear, I wouldn’t be me. Skateboarding is life and streetwear allows everyone to have their own swag.” Nothing more, nothing less.
After my run in with Pollo and Terence, it was only right to talk to a person who lives and breathe skating for a living so who did I talk to ? Blake Johnson duh. As Blake was signing autographs, I slid by to ask him if the culture of streetwear saved him in any way and rightfully so, he genuinely expressed that skating specifically is what saved his life and is the very thing that placed him in the position he’s in now.
As I’m walking down aisle C, I spotted Chinese Laundry who would also bring me another unique response. As I asked the family owner of the CL brand what would he have done without the influence of streetwear, he answered “I mean I jumped into streetwear honestly because of Hip-Hop so without streetwear and that culture and lifestyle, I would be a f*cking plant, plain and boring.”
After taking in a good amount of male insight on their brands and their appreciation for streetwear, it was time to shake up the narrative. With that being said , I decided to go visit Melody Ehsani’s section with Reebok where I met Deseray. With having such a deep connection to streetwear, she told me that streetwear is something that allows her to define and serve looks no matter where she goes saying “Streetwear is my everyday look. Like if I go somewhere , I can wear a hoodie with a skirt and some sneakers and still be cute while remaining true to myself.”
Whether it was skating on Baker boards with your homies or listening to hip-hop or just trying to find your way through the fashion industry, streetwear is paving the way for people to be themselves, unapologetically.