It was a warm, sunny day when Lisa and I drove out to Downey, CA (the next city from me) to kick it with Heavyset for a fun interview.
Stick your tongue out and put your middle finger up. That’s what I always feel like doing when I’m around these guys. We all can give no f@#%$ when we’re all together. “Heavyset is a collective of friends, artists, and thinkers.” They are inspired by their city and the people around them. They are fresh, raw, real, vulgar, and personal. It’s personal because almost anybody can relate to the lifestyle that they represent.
A group of 4 ambitious men came together, created a brand that represents their brotherhood. Their “gang” consists of Co-owners Andrew Leon and Gilbert Ornelas, Creative Director Gabe Enamorado, and Head Designer Andrew “Queso” (Cheese) Pina. What they do is crucial as they emphasize that this brand is their life and is an impression of their lifestyle. They are not only receiving local positive feedback, but are also reaching out to a number (and rising) of international consumers such as places like Russia and Poland. Their passion and the love for their brand, Heavyset, was pretty obvious when I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Leon and Gilbert. Read the play by play of the interview to see why Heavyset is “All Bad and Never Good.”
LLL: How did Heavyset start? How was it founded?
Andrew: Well, we all grew up together. We’re from the Downey area and we’ve known each other since like 6th grade. So basically it’s just us, Heavyset in the beginning is more of a friendship type of thing. We all kinda like similar [and different] shit. For instance like a side of us like Gabe [Creative Director], which is one of our designers, he’s into cycling. He’s a straight edge and he listens to hard core music and shit. Which is totally different from what I’m into. So it’s like, we all have different ideas and we all brought it into one brand. That’s what Heavyset is.
LLL: Do you guys have a motto?
Gilbert: Our basic motto is ‘All Bad Never Good.’ Basically we have like our ‘Fuck Up’ Tee. Kinda not embracing failure, but everyone goes through struggles. Everyone has problems, you know? And we just say fuck it, just keep going, just don’t care what people think. Just keep going with it.
LLL: Where do you guys find your inspiration (for coming up with everything, like the ‘Fuck Up’ Tee)?
Gilbert: I’d say it’s just from our lives, each other, and everything we do.
Andrew: Like say for instance we were friends, drove around, and you guys talk about stuff and ideas that come to you. That’s just how it all transpires for us. We don’t really look too much into it. I don’t want to say we don’t put effort in our shirts, but at the same time we’re not going to go out of our way to do something that we’re not. Everything that we do on our shirts is who we are and what we like. That’s why I think we feel different than other clothing brands coming out. We feel that people claim to be a lifestyle brand, but I mean half of the time you can’t relate to them. Like Diamond, they portray this lifestyle, but I don’t own Diamonds for shit. But it’s like I can’t relate to them. But I could relate to us, from everything portrayed on our Website, what you see on our clothes; that’s who we really are at the end of the day. And that’s what we want people to know when they see our brand and they get to start knowing us.
Gilbert: We really try to show it too, through our instagram, through our twitter. It’s a lot of personality. It’s really us, like everything we do we share. In our video that was all us, we were all in it. We didn’t hire people. Everything we did is just all us. We did everything the night before. We were out. Our inspiration just comes from everything we live by. The ‘Fuck up’ shirts represents a lot of people kinda helps them embrace it. We all made mistakes, but we’re still going to make it. We don’t care. It’s like fuck it, I made those mistakes, but I’m going to keep going.
LLL: What’s a typical day like when you come together as a team or even individually?
Gilbert: We all have our regular day jobs. First of all we all have stuff to do.
Andrew: We live pretty basic lives with our own 9-5 and all that. But when we get here [our office], we’ll be here working until almost 2 in the morning. We’ll be here for over 8 hours in the day. We jus talk shit to each other. Make fun of each other. Talk about stories. We do designs and give each other feedback. And what I think is good about our meetings in general is that nobody really gets hurt. If I run an idea and someone says its wack, I won’t take it personally. But from there we planted an idea and ask what would make it better. That’s what I think is the best in our group because we’ve all known each other so long, it’s a friendship.
Gilbert: Yeah, we’re just always here. We could mess around with each other. No one takes it personal.
LLL: When you first started, did you have big expectations?
Andrew: We had big expectations for us. We didn’t expect this, but whatever we’ve done we’ve done it to the point like there’s no room for failure. If we failed it’s because we fucked up. We didn’t market ourselves enough or we didn’t make the right moves or whatever, but we’re set up so we just can’t fail.
Gilbert: I mean either way just doing it was big enough for us to do because that was just the biggest step. The biggest step is just starting and that’s the hardest part. We just put it out there and we expected a lot of the hate. Especially in fashion, it’s super competitive. There’s always people who knock it down and say, ‘You copied this, you copied that, that’s not original; that sucks; it’s not new.’
Andrew: To be honest, in the fashion industry everything has been done, but it’s just who could do it better. Break it down in its most simplest form, no brand is original. It’s a very weird market because that’s how people are they like to bitch a lot. From what we’ve done, we feel like its our brand. If people ask are you guys trying to be dark, gothic, or flashy; at the end of the day no, it’s just what we’ve lived and what we are living, that’s just what we’re portraying.
LLL: What advice would you give to people just starting out a clothing brand/line?
Gilbert: Just start it. The hardest part is just starting it.
Andrew: Don’t export your work. If you could do everything in-house from design to media to marketing. If you keep it all in-house you save a lot of money. At the same time what people don’t realize that starting a brand takes a lot of effort and time. If they don’t have the time and day to do it or if they just want to see as a quick get rich scheme, it’s not going to work. You have to put a lot of time in your brand and make sure you get your message across and have a solid brand behind it. It’s another job. I average like 4 hours of sleep. It gets hard, but I’ve gotten used to it (which is a bad thing), but at the end of the day it’s what I want to do.
LLL: Where do you see yourself and Heavyset in the next 5-10 years?
Andrew: Have our own store. Something we’re working on actually. In 5 years, realistically, at the pace we’re going I don’t see how we can’t have our own store.
Gilbert: Where we’re at right now, it took us forever, but we hustled and it feels so good. We finally have our office and we could ship stuff out. Everything used to be in our friends houses and we used to meet up at Coffee Bean all the time.
LLL: What is Heavyset?
Andrew: You hear new brands everyday. I wanted to emphasize that when we first started the brand. I wanted to be a brand that I like because I’m making a brand that I usually buy. I wanted to do something that is new that makes more sense to me. We wanted it to be more meaningful. We wanted to represent things that haven’t really been touched yet, I’m not saying our designs are the most extraordinary things in the world, but it’s simple and that’s what we like. Everything we have to offer is really clean cut. We use a lot of vulgar terms and stuff like that. That’s how we are, that’s our lifestyle. We always use the term set and Heavyset represents our life, heavy is how we live. It’s just us, vulgarity, raging, and shit like that. Also, the term Heavyset could be funny to fuck with. We really don’t want to limit ourselves to just street wear.
Gilbert: I feel like I really want to represent us. Everyone has been around forever. I feel like there’s going to be a new wave to come out to really represent us [18-25 demographic]. Why not just do us, why try to sugar coat it. Heavy just means raw, hard as fuck, just keep going. Going hard. Set is our gang, our brotherhood; we’re real close, we’re like family. At first it was funny because when we first mentioned the name people would be like, ‘Oh you’re making fat people clothing? Everyone was like you should make some gym clothes and make them in smaller sizes.’
Press play for snippets of the interview.
Heavyset’s Look Book. Dope video!
Now in Andrew’s words, “Go buy shit.”