Once a staple of New York Fashion Week with his streetwear brand Gypsy Sport, designer Rio Uribe has since relocated to his original home in Los Angeles, where he’s helping recharge the city as a capital of style with substance. “I love NY, but the industry is way too capitalistic for the raw creativity that is thriving in LA right now,” he argues.
As part of LAFW, which took place last month under N4XT Experiences, Gypsy Sport’s Spring 2023 collection was a celebration of local Chicano culture and all its multitudes, but especially the emo scene. “Mall-punk was one of my fave high school phases,” Uribe remembers, “and I’m finally old enough to see it coming back around."
True to his DNA, casting this season helped tell the larger story with a lineup of models from inside the Gypsy Sport community. Star Ah-Mer-Ah-Su sprinted down the runway, as if on the verge of an emotional breakdown, while Luna Lovebad posed fiercely before the camera wall in the brand’s planet logo patterned head-to-toe.
Follow all the faces of Gypsy Sport's latest collection on Instagram, below, and read PAPER's conversation with Rio Uribe. "I want the models and the audience to have fun," he says. "We love camp."
What about Los Angeles inspires you and how did that seep into this collection?
Los Angeles is my birthplace, my hometown. NYC is obviously the fashion capital of the United States, so in 2005 I moved there after high school to pursue a fashion career. In 2019 I moved back to LA to be closer to my family, also because clothing production is drastically cheaper here. What I did not expect to find in LA is all of the natural beauty and inspiration. But what really inspires me about LA the most is retracing my roots, and translating Chicano history and iconography into my collections.
Having closely experienced New York and now Los Angeles, what would you say are the differences between the two fashion scenes?
New York City has a massive fashion palette, so many flavors and so many well-dressed people everywhere. Inspiration is easy to find in NYC, but the garment district is only like 2-square blocks, and everything is super expensive. For the last few years I've noticed that authentic style has been overlooked in NYC because there's so much "fashion" happening. Los Angeles has a much smaller fashion scene, but it's not all yoga pants and fast-fashion, there's actually a lot of really cool street-style and ethic-fashion coming out of LA. The vintage and DIY scene is king out there. I love NY, but the industry is way too capitalistic for the raw creativity that is thriving in LA right now.
There was a nostalgic, suburban punk quality to the looks this season. Were you pulling from any specific memories, cultural moments or locations to inform the designs?
The whole idea started last season by referencing the historic codes of Chicano culture, with Pachuco suits and lowrider motifs. This season I pulled from the younger newer codes, like skaters, punks and emos. Mall-punk was one of my fave high school phases and I'm finally old enough to see it coming back around.
Before the show started, my seatmate said out loud, "It’s so refreshing to see the Gypsy Sport logo again." Years now into the brand, what does that logo represent?
I love that. It was a very conscious decision to bring the logo back so heavy this season. The Gypsy Sport logo resembles the planet Saturn or a UFO, but really it's become a worldwide symbol of unity and diversity. Just like the Nike check is for athletes, I see the GS logo as a global unifier of gender-fluid and eco-conscious fashionistas.
You’re an OG when it comes to casting real, cool people. What was the approach this season? How was this cast representative of Los Angeles culture?
That's one reason I love LA, the casting is always amazing. What we started in NY with street casting, we've also done in Paris and Mexico City, so of course we had to do street casting in LA. There's so much beauty on the West Coast. At the last open call we met over 300 amazing people, who would never have an opportunity to walk a fashion runway without the diverse and inclusive world of Gypsy Sport. Conti Casting has been finding and booking our models since the beginning, and their roster of street talent is unmatched. Actually, New Bottega just tapped them for casting and requested to meet a bunch of Gypsy Sport models, so that's really exciting to see our models glow-up.
I’m obsessed with Star Ah-Mer-Ah-Su's run. How did that decision come about? Do you just let people do whatever they want on the catwalk?
Star's run on the runway was something we rehearsed, but it was totally her idea and I lived. I wouldn't say I let the models do whatever they want on the runway, but I do collaborate with them individually to see what they can bring to the runway, besides a fierce walk. I want the models and the audience to have fun. We love camp.
I love the mix of high and low — the ribbed tank with the ballgown skirt, for example. What was the thinking there?
I'm learning to simplify the styling and let my pieces shine on their own, which is totally not my usual approach. We work for months on these pieces, and they often end up hidden under accessories and styling tricks. This season was about removing layers and accessories that would distract from the fashion. The big skirts were inspired by Quinceañera dresses. These can be commissioned for big celebrations, but combined with a ribbed tank it feels a lot more street-ready and nonbinary.
You ended with Gypsy Sport’s interpretation of a wedding dress, which is a classic fashion show finale. How did you approach this design and how is it reflective of the brand?
Last season we had two private clients order custom looks to wear for their weddings. That really opened my eyes to the bridal industry, so this season I made an ivory satin wedding dress in a voluminous polonaise-inspired style. The a-line shape is chic and flattering for most body types. The glossy fabric is soft and luxurious, you would never know it's made from recycled fibers. This is a Gypsy Sport wedding dress, not because it's covered in tiny Gypsy Sport logos, but because it's cool, inclusive and sustainable.
Photos courtesy of Gypsy Sport
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