The success of a brand comes down to many things: cool designs, big-name endorsements, and designers with a personal style that match the clothing they want their consumers to buy into are just some of the key factors. Thankfully, when it comes to Los Angeles-based menswear clothier Beautiful Fül, they’ve got all that and more.
With guys like Big Sean, PARTYNEXTDOOR, all three Migos compadres, Eric Bellinger, YG, Common and an ongoing list of rap’s elite players already rocking your brand early, it’s easy to see why a standard T-shirt will run you $85 before taxes. However, the Beautiful Fül brand goes way deeper than price tags and hip-hop cosigns; they’re creating a lifestyle that many are bursting at the seams to be part of.
We decided to go visit head designer Alejandro Rodriguez, who runs the brand with his partner Tomasa Calvo, as they visited NYC on a whirlwind press run for both the new spring/summer 2018 collection and upcoming autumn/winter 2018 collection.
Keep scrolling for an inside look at a brand that’s rapidly creeping out the West Coast and into your closets very soon:
The Source: Let’s begin with introducing The Source readers to what Beautiful Fül is and your relationship to the brand.
Alejandro Rodriguez/Beautiful Fül: My name is Alejandro Rodriguez, the founder and designer for Beautiful Fül. [The brand] started in 2013 with no formal fashion training on my part. I did go to fashion school, but that was more of how to run a fashion business; that’s not something you can really learn in school though. The brand’s name actually comes from The Great Gatsby (Editor’s Note: The 1925 novel — not the so-so 2013 film version starring Leonardo DiCaprio). There’s a line where the character Daisy is talking about her daughter, and she said something like, “When she’s born, I hope she’s a beautiful fool because it’s the easiest way to grow up in this world.”
When I read that, I was trying to figure out what she meant, and then as I got older it hit me like, it’s almost saying ignorance is bliss. With fashion, If I had known all the ins and outs of what it actually takes [to run a brand], I would’ve never started it. It’s a lot of work, but because I didn’t know anything I just jumped in and took whatever was thrown at me. I handled it, grew and grew and grew, then eventually got to a point where HYPEBEAST covers us and Big Sean is wearing our stuff.
Also, when it comes to the brand name, I usually bring up the definition of the word “beautiful”; you never associate it with men, but the base word is “beau”. In the dictionary, that’s defined as either a girl’s boyfriend or a guy who likes to dress nice. From that perspective, I thought the explanation was pretty spot-on. It’s also funny, because I was born and raised in L.A. — proud Mexican — and that’s how we talk: “What’s up, fool?” [Laughs] The name just came together really well, and I think now that I’m telling that story people are understanding it more and ultimately relating more to the brand overall. Originally people would cut off the “Fül” and just call us “Beautiful”, but now they like, “Oh, Beautiful ‘fool’ — I get it!” It’s really interesting how that’s coming together now.
“It’s almost every day that something happens where you’re just like, “I don’t know about this! What am I doing?!”…I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to the point where I said I’m gonna give up or not do it completely. I know this is what I’m meant to do; I’ve known since I was 12 years old that I was going to make clothing.”
— Alejandro Rodriguez, Beautiful Fül
Did that same thought process go into the way you actually spell “Fül”? I could imagine getting people to simply understand the pronunciation would be a task in itself.
To be honest, that was more of an aesthetic thing. I thought the double-o’s would look kinda weird. I like the repetitiveness of f-u-l (in beautiful) and then f-u-l again with Fül. No cool story there originally, but then after I thought about the “u” paired with the umlaut, it actually looks like a happy face. We started using the umlaut as a replacement logo on some pieces. That was interesting too because in this company it’s just me and my partner who built this together. The two people/two dots ratio just works perfect.
There’s a lot of dope thought that goes into every part of this brand! It almost seems like these details are freak accidents that you stumbled upon that eventually became “Aha!’ moments.
A little bit, yeah. The one thing I’ve known from the beginning is that contrast — the “beautiful” and “fül” are kind of like opposites of each other. That’s basically the whole idea behind the brand, mixing highs and lows; a nice, expensive blazer with beat-up jeans. It’s finding that balance between beautiful and ugly.
What was it like getting the stamp of approval from Big Sean and other big name celebrities?
We actually get that a lot. With Big Sean, it happened through his stylist . She found us on Instagram and showed him some stuff. The smiley shirt wasn’t even the first thing he wore, but the minute he saw it she said, “He really wants this. Can he have it?” As much as designers like to play and not play the whole celebrity game, it’s necessary and can ultimately feel good having that little stamp of validation. Having somebody on that level with that many fans like something that you’re doing is really cool.
Of course. When guys like A$AP Rocky are really into fashion, it trickles down to their perspective fan bases and skyrockets off shelves for sure.
I understand the other side too. I used to be the guy that was like, “I’m not giving any of these artists anything – If they want it they can buy it!” However, [brand promo] is essential in this world of social media. We had Takeoff wear one of our denim jacket pieces that has a zebra fur collar on it. The minute we posted it on Instagram, it sold out.
I want to revisit that comment you said earlier about probably not starting Beautiful Fül had you known beforehand all that goes into putting a brand together. What was the turning point or key moment that made you say ‘Nah, let’s go full speed ahead with this’ as opposed to giving up?
Dude, there’s like so many moments I could name! From the time I started, it was crazy. The whole landscape of menswear was very different at that time; I think people were more interested in product than hype. From the jump we got major press, and that made me go, “Ok, people are paying attention – let’s keep going.” Honestly, it’s almost every day that something happens where you’re just like, “I don’t know about this! What am I doing?!” [Laughs]. Realistically though, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to the point where I said I’m gonna give up or not do it completely. I know this is what I’m meant to do; I’ve known since I was 12 years old that I was going to make clothing.
I never knew why I wanted to do it, but I’m realizing more and more [the feeling behind it]. When I dress up myself, I feel good. When I start feeling better, I do better out in the world. That’s not just for me either. I’ve seen [the same effect] in other people. When we had our store in L.A., I would see guys instantly transform when they put on our clothes. You just end up seeing that little bit of confidence in them spark. Helping a person feel better [through personal style] was great for me. That’s why it means so much more to me than just making a cool jacket. It’s making people feel good about themselves.
How does the brand tackle actually creating the garments, both from a technical perspective and a design perspective? Basically, how does it differ from choosing certain stitching to deciding to put an all-over smiley face print on a shirt?
It starts with design because you have to give yourself something to build on. With that, I get inspired by random stuff, even if it’s a song on the radio. The spring/summer 2018 collection is called “Creep It Real” and that was all from a Radiohead song popping up on the radio [Editor’s Note: Alejandro is referring to the band’s 1992 Top 40 debut single “Creep”, off their near-perfect debut album ‘Pablo Honey’]. The thought of “I’m a creep” made me think of how most people are worried about their flaws. I was just like, “Man, you’ve got to embrace it!” Whoever you think you are, you’ve got to embrace it; that’s where “Creep It Real” comes in.
I started designing [the collection] around the idea of this weirdo character. The smiley face shirt came from the different emotions of people — there’s a happy face, a straight face, and a sad face all over. I think I had seen an old vintage polka dot shirt and thought, “Oh, that would be dope if those polka dots were smiley faces!” I went and found some people who did custom-printed fabric, and that’s where things gets technical. We had to design the textile and send it in, but because we do everything in L.A. it can be a little more expensive. On the other hand, we get to see the best quality stuff other than if you’re in Paris or Italy. If anything we match [the quality], because we pay attention to every little thing you can imagine. The inside of our garments are just as clean and put-together as what you see on the outside. It can be something like the shirts being all piped on the inside and open seams.
You can even look at it from the perspective that these clothes, particularly with the smiley face shirt for instance, play on the attraction of each consumer’s naked eye. You’ve got three different-yet-similar faces on the shirt, but what will be the one you focus on first? It’s those design stories that get people really get invested in clothing and fashion as a whole.
Thank you. The stories are so important; if more people knew the stories and overall thought process behind the clothing they would definitely be more interested. It’s interesting to think that these clothes didn’t come from something visual, but rather an actual mindset, an idea, or a feeling.
I know it’s hard to pick favorites, but give me your five favorite pieces from the current collection.
First off is the smiley face all-over silk shirt. It’s been the standout piece since Day 1, and people are always like, “Oh shit!” Second, there’s a robe we did that I think is dope because of the way we did it and the fabric we used. It’s all hand-woven, hand-dyed blankets from Africa that are vintage, too. I was able to find this lady who’s from Mali, and she just happened to have a bunch of blankets. We bought a few from her, and every jacket is constructed from about two or three blankets.
With the pajama set, I don’t know why I even chose to do that but I thought it was pretty cool. Sportswear is in right now with basketball shorts and whatnot, but I’ve never really wore sweatpants. I wanted my version of the trend, something more upscale and that’s where the idea of premium pajamas came from. There’s also a pair of jeans in there that I appreciate more than the normal person. Nobody really pays attention to denim detail, but me, I’m a denim guy. These are 15 oz. Japanese indigo jeans, and the wash on it is just crazy. It looks like it’s from the 1970s, and has a vintage look and amazing wash. There’s another silk shirt we did that looks like tie dye or floral print, but it’s actually hand-painted – watercolor hand-painted silk to be exact.
Now that you’ve got a little insight into how the brand came together, get a better look below as Alejandro breaks down standout pieces from the Beautiful Fül Spring/Summer 2018 Collection:
“This one is the smiley face shirt I was talking about that Big Sean has. I think it’s special because it’s custom-printed — this is our artwork.”
“This robe is the one that we got the blankets from Africa for. Its super special because every single one is different; no two blankets are the same. Definitely a standout for that detail alone.”
“What do I say about this…I like that it doesn’t have to just be a pajama shirt.You can wear this out and it’ll be better than half the things you see other dudes wearing.” [Laughs]
“This is the hand-painted silk. It’s like — there’s nothing to say really [Laughs]! All I need to say is hand-painted silk.”
“This one just wraps up the whole collection. You have the smiley face and the title “Creep it Real” altogether. Just…creep it real, guys.”
Take a look at the entire Beautiful Fül Spring/Summer 2018 lookbook — available right now on the brand’s website — in the gallery below: