In today’s big-city culture, one thing I’ve often noticed is that people generally imitate each other. That is, they shop at the same places, wear the same clothes, drive the same cars, and even listen to the same music. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with this, it’s also true that in a such a dynamic it can be difficult to find something more original or organic. This is precisely what makes Buy Back the Block, a design label by L.A. born and bred Mauricio Zelada so refreshing. With bold designs reminiscent of L.A.’s old street culture, Buy Back the Block both reminds city-goers such as myself about the importance of valuing the places we come from, and how no matter what day it is, we still carry a piece of those places with us, taking strength from the memories they encompass. Below, Mauricio tells us a bit of the story behind the BBTB!
Where in Los Angeles do you hail from? I grew up around various neighborhoods: 15th & Normandie, 20th & Hoover, 3rd & Westmoreland, and Rampart & 3rd. All those places got a place in my heart. Normandie Park in particular is a place filled with memories for me.
Tell us about your brand. Explain it to someone who’s never heard of it before. Buy Back The Block is a young men’s street wear brand. The mission of the brand is to empower young men by inspiring confidence. With the messages I choose to print on blank canvases, I want to plant seeds in the minds of these young men and help their confidence grow. Buy Back The Block is a limited edition, high quality clothing brand that is energetically infused with confidence with the hope that whoever wears it may feel powerful and confident. I believe confidence and self-esteem are must-haves for the future of our youth. When our confidence is high as a collective, then we can start to build a world where we own our blocks.
Is fashion something that’s always been a part of you, or is it something more recent in your life? Fashion has always been a part of me. I’ve always prided myself on being able to pull off fits or looks that not many could rock. As far as fashion design, I remember one of the first moments I wanted to try my hand at it was when I saw a pair of Mankind jeans giving a woman with a flat butt a big butt (laughs). I thought, “how they do that?!” From there, my desire to create clothing that looked and felt good was born.
How do you manage deadlines with Buy Back the Block? And what does a successful project for the brand mean to you? Meeting deadlines can be challenging. I do all the production (designing, drafting, pattern-making, cutting, sewing, graphic designs), marketing, branding, business plans, and I fund everything from my own pocket. Sometimes setbacks get in the way but I have limitless faith in what I’m creating so I’m never short on faith. Every now and again I also get impatient, but only because my excitement to get the product out is off the chain. A successful project to me is when everything is geometrically aligned. When the project flows, lines up beautifully, and it Photographs amazing then I know the project is complete.
What should folks look forward to next with Buy Back the Block? I’m in the final stages of production for my first capsule collection! I named it Baboso, which means dummy in Spanish. I dedicated it to all the people that I’ve angered or hurt because of my stubborn ways sometimes (laughs). Once I drop this first collection, I’ll begin the creative process for the 2nd collection.