Yung Creatives is a series profiling talents of tomorrow across various fields, disciplines and mediums. Skilled in commerce and creativity, find out why these guys are generating significant buzz in the industry.
As Los Angeles’ burgeoning fashion scene continues to mount conversation in the blogosphere, let’s take a moment to spotlight one guy who serves as a testament to the West Coast’s low-key albeit brazen creativity. Meet Rhuigi Villaseñor, the 25-year-old Manila native who struck gold with his streetwear label, RHUDE, after receiving cosigns from a bevy of A-list heavyweights that include none other than Kobe Bryant, Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean.
Ever the storyteller, Rhuigi’s ability to insert personal narratives through striking and unconventional graphics, cuts and fabrics across his collections make him a leading player in the latest wave of avant-minded creatives steering LA’s influential style language.
I caught up with the Hollywood denizen to hear more about his obsession with cigarette graphics, what struggles come with being a young entrepreneur and the massive Gucci archive he’s accrued over the years.
How old are you?
I’m 25 years old.
Where are you from and where are you currently based?
I’m from Manila, Philippines; grew up in the Valley, Woodland Hills/Calabasas area. I now have a spaceship in the Hollywood Hills.
When did you start your brand?
Around 2.5 – 3 years ago.
What first piqued your interest in fashion?
My mother used to make us our uniforms when we were younger, so I grew up watching my mom make clothes for less money. Then I moved to the States and wanted to be an artist and paint, but money was rough and I needed a faster way to help my family while also sharing my story.
What are some of the biggest influences behind your designs?
All of my designs are deeply rooted in my sorrows and experiences. Most of them are references from my childhood, travels and relationships that I went in and out of.
Did you have a specific consumer in mind prior to launching the brand?
No one! When I started, I made clothes ultimately for myself. I couldn’t afford the brands I loved, so I made clothes that I wanted to wear that no one else could have. I wasn’t interested in seeing people in my clothes in the beginning, but to answer the question, you always want the strong dollar.
What’s the story with the recurring cigarette references throughout your line?
Growing up I saw a ton of kids my age selling cigarettes in the Philippines to feed their family. It’s real, LOL. So in a way, I wanted to put that same ideology and hustle into my clothes. Sort of a nod to the kids that did anything and everything to help their family.
Also, I hate cigarettes and a girl I once dated smoked them all the time. I always thought about how much better an artist can get if he works in mediums on topics he hates. Plus old cigarette campaigns were so good.
What first put your brand on the map?
When Kobe, Kendrick and Frank were seen wearing it. I don’t know, that bandana shirt was truly something for me. I remember taking the subway (in LA) just to get samples done for me to wear. That shirt was a symbol of my early beginnings.
What’s the biggest financial strain with running your own brand? Do you feel as though you’ve broken even?
Our numbers are great! I always stress to people to finish school or work for someone that way you beat the mistakes and growing pains. We all eventually pay for something. The U.S. has a lot of factories that do not turn around the product in a timely manner or produce good quality for the price we pay. So at times, you take a bigger financial loss. But we’re doing good. I feel “greatness” is coming.
How did you come up with the name, RHUDE?
My family has a tradition of starting all names with an “Rh” and I honored that by starting a brand that did the same. RHUDE derives from the word “rude,” and I grew up in a strict, uniformed school and home, so this was sort of my way to rebel against being so disciplined growing up. But the brand name never really mattered to me, what matters is the stories I have to tell.
Word on the street is that you have a sizable Saint Laurent and Gucci collection…care to elaborate?
Yes, I do! They’re collecting dust in my closet, LOL. I grew up wearing Dior Homme and Gucci loafers, actually something I bonded with a girl over, LOL. But yeah, it was like a look I did in high school and it’s crazy to see it all come around. But lets just say I have a few archive pieces that could make kids go crazy.
I also heard that you coach a youth basketball team?
GREATEST JOY IN MY LIFE. I grew up playing basketball and I just couldn’t get myself to get taller and be a pro. But when the opportunity came, I had to do it. I grew up with great mentors and teachers, and if I can be a positive influence to a kid and he can look forward to playing ball at the same time, well, there’s no better feeling than that.
What’s LA’s fashion scene like at the moment? Seems to be on the come-up in a big way.
It’s a beautiful emergence of subcultures rising from different areas in the city. It’s really cool to watch. I mean, for the guys running brands that are actually doing authentic things and are my friends, we kind of just fed off of each other’s personal styles and turned them into a growing empire.
What direction do you see the brand going in the next few years?
*Plays Fat Joe’s “All the Way Up* LOL. Umm, well I’m hopeful that I have a new team that can redesign every structural mistake I made. I always felt the design and the message was there, but the execution was my misstep.There’s a ton of great things to announce just for this year alone though
For more youngsters making waves in the scene, read about the Parisian 20-year-old who has everyone from Rihanna to Keith Ape wearing his caps.