The “next big thing” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot.
Every one hit wonder has been called music’s “next big thing” at some point or another, but what happens when you have more than one hit? California-based designer, Rhuigi Villasenor, knows the feeling.
His Rhude clothing line has become a favorite among key influencers in the streetwear and fashion community, as well as with a few key musicians. And for good reason. Rhuigi has found a way to merge everything we love about the Balmains and Saint Laurents of high fashion with the sensibilities that you need in a day-to-day wardrobe. The intricacies and attention to detail have not gone unnoticed.
Kendrick Lamar accepted the award for “Lyricist of the Year” at the BET Awards wearing the Rhude “Bandana” tee, and later he was seen wearing the collaborative hat that Rhuigi did with New York’s own 40 Oz crew. Chris Brown and Travi$ Scott are also fans of the Rhude brand, both wearing it at leisure and during public appearances.
We got a chance to sit down with Rhuigi for a little GlobalGrind “1 on 1” to see what makes him tick, what he has planned for the brand and what he thinks about today’s fashion landscape.
Check it all out below and then have a look at Rhuigi’s Fall/Winter 2013 lookbook for Rhude.
GlobalGrind: When we first met, you were working with TISA. What made you want to do your own line?
Rhuigi Villasenor: I was always master planning whatever I wanted to do. I feel like I helped out the whole vintage culture and the whole androgynous, crazy style that was happening at that time. You know how for a while when you first met me I was the only guy wearing all that crazy shit. I felt like I paved the way for everyone to feel comfortable. After a while it felt like it’s getting kind of tampered and a little, not authentic anymore. It didn’t feel like it was fun or how it used to be when I began. So yeah, I saw it. I’ve always had this vision for a Los Angeles subculture-like rise, that whole gangster culture. I always felt like it would somewhat rise, which is now. I predicted this, like what, years ago, literally sitting at home, and now I feel like this new troubled culture is going to be a new wave. Yeah I did that. Here I am now, man, making my own collection.
You mentioned the whole androgynous thing. What are your feelings about men in skirts?
I remember I saw it on Givenchy’s runway. It dates back to Scottish culture. I find nothing bad in it. It’s kind of like these little statement pieces. It’s just like a woman wearing a pant before. I don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s just the urban culture tampering with something they don’t understand.
How would you describe your collection “Rude”?
See, this is the thing. I try not to bubble all my clothes into one single thing. I don’t have a specific person or a specific cool kid that I aim for. How I design is that I have a burst of inspiration for something and I work around it and I explore different topics and stuff. Which was, for this collection, the youth culture and their involvement in terrorism and revolution and political aspects and things. Let’s just say I’m a little more world conscious about what’s going on everywhere.
How did you feel when Kendrick Lamar accepted an award in one of your shirts?
I still feel like it was just yesterday. You can consider him an up-and-coming artist. You know, he’s been around. He’s been trying and for some reason it felt like we put L.A. on the map together without him really knowing it. I remember I got called up, yo, we need shirts blah blah blah. My brand manager, who was my sister, was the one who handled all of that. I think he bought both of them and I was told that it was gonna be worn to something. I didn’t even know what it was and next thing you know, fucking, it’s on TV. My homie, Rockie Fresh, yeah he texted me, yo, your shirt’s on Kendrick. And I’m like what the fuck’s going on here? So I guess he wore it and performed in it. Really, really good because at that time I literally saw my following and everything rise, from the payroll, everything jumpstarted. So much love to Kendrick and West Coast.
Do you think L.A. is rising as a mainstay in the fashion industry?
Uh no, I don’t think L.A. will be a fashion capital. I think it remains what it is. I’ve been in a binary world. I’ve seen two sides of the world and right now, I think L.A. will always be a Hollywood city. There’s no need for it to be dabbling in fashion. There’s no need for it to be what it’s not. It just so happens that I’m here and I got inspired by the culture so, even then, I feel like, really ugh, when I say that I’m from L.A. or that I design in L.A…Honest dude, I don’t want to stomp on my city, but I feel like my city has too much of that like Jeremy Scott copycat kind of feel. I don’t like being associated in the whole Los Angeles design culture sometimes because they’re all like, this sounds snobby, but try hard and copy everything. That’s why I feel like everyone is so stunned when I say I’m in L.A. because it’s such a different vibe from an L.A. designer.
You talk a lot about being inspired by the youth. Would you say there’s anything else that inspires you as far as the collection?
Of course hip-hop culture is big. I’ve been really inspired by the punk culture right now, like what it is, the British punk culture. What I like to do is, I like to culture class things. I like to take from one separate culture to another. It’s the way I write, cause I write and I draw. The way I do my mediums and stuff is I base two things that shouldn’t be together and fuse them together and do what I can do. Right now, not to kill it, but my new season is gonna be inspired with the whole punk sensibility. So it’s all like cholo-punk but they all share the same mentality of being this rude, against the world conundrum kind of feel. That’s what I’m rocking right now. I think it’s the best thing to do because I’m so young. Isn’t that the best part of being young, being kind of in revolt here?
It’s great that the kids are understanding it because they’re going to the darker side. They’re growing up. And you know how it is growing up, when you’re just trying to find yourself. You’re rebelling. Just so happens that there’re only so many words that start with an ‘r‘ that’s synonymous to all that.
With your age, do you find it harder being taken seriously or do you face any obstacles?
Man! You know what! When I started I felt like it was a thing they try to use it against you. But now, I kind of feel like I’m the LeBron James of this league or something, getting drafted early, young. And it’s like fuck, just know that I’m coming. I feel really good. I’ve always had this mentality that I want to surpass everyone. That’s why I sometimes stay at home and I think too much and I get really in the shit hole, and I’m like fuck, these guys are so far ahead of me, but then I look back at it, and I’m like younger than these fools. And I’m literally shoulder to shoulder with them. I try not to worry about it. Yeah, fuck it, yeah exactly. You know what, I’m gonna shit on all ‘em. I’m gonna shit on ‘em just to tell you guys that I’m fucking young. It’s like before, I told you guys, I used to try to hide my age, thought it was a disadvantage. But now it’s like, you better be threatened by me, because I’m fucking young bitches.
Do you do all of your design work?
Of course, of course. I have a design team involved. I don’t know what we are anymore. It was my girlfriend at that time and we designed together and stuff. We built patterns, literally when we made this autumn/winter, I did it all in love with the girl. I designed it, we made patterns, all that. Now, I’m looking into hiring a few more kids that I feel like deserve some type of shine. As long as we can work together like a nice little pie, that’ll be good. But so, I’ve been really hunting for, like a prodigy or something, some kid that’s really gonna be awesome. Right now, I’m keeping it small, keeping it tight. They have a very Missoni-like, very family-based. Everyone on my team is my family.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I was born in the Philippines and my dad was an architect, so I moved to Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong. My dad wanted us to travel with him, so I have photos in the Red Sea, chilling. So pretty much made me, molded me into a culturally diverse kid. Then moved out here when I was 11. Started school, had a little trouble with English. I went to private school in the Philippines, but even then they were teaching us book English. So when you ask for water, it’s not conversational speaking. The flow of things was really hard. I was placed in ESL until they figured out I was a fucking genius, so I got put in this crazy gifted program shit. And yeah, I went through the whole school route, graduated valedictorian, got a high school speech, didn’t go to college. I went to community college for, I want to say, two weeks. This was the time when I was going to New York and stuff, so I was missing tests. So I pretty much dropped out and yeah, I made it happen.
How would you describe your personal styling?
My personal style right now, kind of a little more mellow. It’s humble and mellow. Humble stunt. You know, very quiet. Look at little quiet. The humble stunt. Very New Yorkish. Literally I don’t really focus on myself anymore. I make clothes, you know. Like
I figured, do I want to be a walking, trying to be a celebrity or fucking make clothes? And honestly, I make clothes. I dress people, not myself.
What are your favorite brands out right now?
Um, I want to say Rude, Rude, and Rude. Well, Rude of course. A lot of people don’t like what Heidi’s doing with Saint Laurent. I still like the change that he’s bringing. It’s still an amazing change he’s doing for such a big house to be changed that fast. I like a lot of the British designers. I think in London there’s a lot of large companies. My studio partner/mentor, shows in London, Shaun Samson is pretty good, he’s a really good guy. I like what Phoebe Philo is doing. Celine. Of course, Raf Simons is always a great reference. Yeah, I kind of want to be there.