Gypsy Sport Is in Evolution

Gypsy Sport Is in Evolution

Jul 10, 2024

Rio Uribe wants you to know that Gypsy Sport is still here. In fact, it's looking deeply within to figure out what's next.

Last September, Rio Uribe thought he would say goodbye to the Gypsy Sport name forever as he geared up to rebrand and launch a new era for the brand, which won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award in 2015. "Everything we've done has been so DIY and so friends and family vibes, but now that we are changing the name, we have to take things a little more seriously," he tells PAPER. "We're not the new hot shit, but we're also still the only brand that's doing some of the things that we do: the casting, the queer aesthetic, the Latinx aesthetic and the sustainability aspects."

After polling followers on Instagram about what the new brand name should be, Uribe finally chose "Rio Sport," which turned out to not be so readily available for use. Now, the designer is back to drawing board as he maps out what it will take to go from underground success to household name.

Below, check out the brand's latest editorial while PAPER catches up with Uribe about side hustles, why "Rio Sport" didn't work out and what is truly next for the brand.

How have you been since we talked last for your show at last September’s fashion week?

I’ve just been trying to figure this out. Honestly, I'm like, Do I still want to be a fashion designer? What does my next chapter look like? So I've been exploring different things. I made a wedding dress for the first time. I'm trying to have fun and fall back in love with fashion.

Tell me about this wedding dress!

She’s a plus size model who emailed like, “Hey, I'm getting married, and I want somebody queer to make my wedding dress. She wanted a basketball jersey wedding dress, so I was like, “Girl you came to the right place.” I loved it. It was fun working with her and her partner in Vegas.

Didn’t you also recently design the costumes for a Romeo and Juliet production in LA?

I did. Wow, that's so funny. I did a lot last year. I did costumes for The Hunger Games movie series for District 11 and District 12, which are the poor districts. That was kind of how I paid my bills from 2012 to 2014. I love costume design. When I moved to LA, that's kind of what I wanted to do, but I didn't have enough contacts here. The playhouse reached out to me randomly, and they were like, “We like your designs. We wanted to make this Chicano-inspired Romeo and Juliet. I loved it. It was super fun. I hope I get to do it again.

After that, did you hit the ground running on getting your rebrand and your name change started?

We announced it pretty much with PAPER PAPER and Vogue last September. The followers and the fans were like, “What are you going to change it to? What's the new name? What are you waiting for? Was this just a publicity stunt? Like, change it already?” But girl, it's not easy. I have to deal with lawyers and check website domains. It's not a quick easy thing to do.

So is “Rio Sport” the one?

I thought that was for sure. Everybody voted for that one, and it's already my Instagram name, so I think people affiliate the brand with that name already. [The name] "Rio Sport" is owned by a few companies already that make fashion, so we couldn't compete with them. It’s a really huge sportswear brand in South America, like Brazil. There's also a gym chain, like the Planet Fitness of Brazil, called Rio Sport. I'm like, Can we collaborate? But we couldn't have the website, get the Instagram name that we wanted or get the brand registered. So we're not able to use Rio Sport after all.

What inspired you to do this shoot then? Are you kind of reminding people that you're still here?

While we're in transition, I've been doing a lot of research about brand changes and evolutions, and I can't really find a lot of information about another brand or designer that's been through the same thing that we're going through right now. But there’s a denim brand from Australia who had to change their name a few years ago. They're not very popular, but I read how they did it. They said it was very important to keep putting out content so that your viewers and friends and fans know who you are and don't forget who you are. So when the name does change, they're already kind of prepared and still feel connected to you. That's what this shoot was about. I'm leaning a lot more into my Latino and Chicano identity, and I’m reinstating who we are. It's always going to be a group of outsiders.

All of the clothes look familiar, but also new.

All the clothes are actually from the Summer 2024 collection, styled completely different — a little more flavor, to be honest. That's also part of moving forward when we do New York in September. I really want to make an effort to hone in on my aesthetic and pull out the best of my previous work moving forward. It's still what I did with Gypsy Sport, but now it's more elevated. We are working with better quality materials, better tailoring and as much as I've tried to keep prices accessible, it's not very profitable so we are going to be raising our prices starting in September.

Did you cast from Instagram and on the street again?

We've done a lot of social media casting and street casting. But because TikTok is such a revolution in social media, I wanted to start dipping my toes into casting from there. We found four or five of these models who’re already doing their own content on TikTok so I thought it was really cool to use people who are comfortable in front of the camera and behind it. Most of these kids have never done a collaboration. They are beauty-focused too, which is such a huge thing. We're working on a perfume, and hopefully one day we'll get a beauty collaboration. I definitely want to start pushing into that direction.

Why do you want to launch a perfume?

We were actually hoping to have it out this summer, but I think because of the name change, we put a pause on it. We also launched the handbag, and that's been a very slow climb. It's a difficult market right now. I just feel like if we're gonna do a perfume, let's do it when we know we're set up to promote it.

We're a really small team. Everything we've done has been so DIY and so friends and family vibes, but now that we are changing the name, we have to take things a little more seriously. When you've been around for 10 years now, people either expect you to be at a certain level, or they just don't care anymore because they're over you and ready for like the next cool young batch. That's where we are right now. We're not the new hot shit, but we're also still the only brand that's doing some of the things that we do: the casting, the queer aesthetic, the Latinx aesthetic and the sustainability aspects. We’re in a place in the middle of these crossroads with all of these different cultures coming together. But I don't want to be underground forever. I would like to get to that household name space. I know it's important to keep doing what I'm doing, but I'm like, How do I continue to be relevant and exciting, and also profitable?

Photography: Hatnim Lee