A conversation with Justinswar_
This interview has been condensed for the sake of clarity.
What’s your name and where did you grow up?
J: My name is Justin, born and raised in Tampa.
What’s been your early influences growing up in Tampa?
J: Skateboarding started it all for me. This kid Max moved into my neighborhood and blessed me with a setup and from then on I would go the Skate Park of Tampa every weekend, and even during the weekdays after school.
Being a skater, what was the first brand that started everything for you?
J: Supreme hands down, everything about the brand embodies skateboarding at its core and the fact that it was so exclusive added to the appeal.
For sure supreme has been a very influential brand, especially for skaters. Do you remember your first piece?
J: Yea I remember it to this day, it was a blue five-panel hat, it had like a Mexican blanket pattern on the brim.
That’s fire! What year was this? Ever visit any of the physical stores?
J: It was 2014. I actually went to the Supreme New York shop that same year. It was hectic when I went because the new season had just dropped so there was a long ass line. I actually saw Luka Sabbat, Ass Pizza, and ASAP Nast. Luka pulled up to the line and just walked away, I’m guessing the line was too long but Nast just skipped the whole line and walked right in, it was insane.
Wow, so basically tumblr era. That point in time for fashion and music was really interesting, all those people you mentioned went on to become pretty big influencer within our generation. So what other brands did you get into next?
J: Bape and Fucking Awesome were my shit.
Both of those brands were popping during that time. Tell the readers about Bape, how did you get into that?
J: Honestly the Lil Wayne era influenced me heavily when it came to Bape.
Those oversized camouflage Bape fits were classic Wayne. What was your first Bape piece?
J: It was actually a shark hoodie that I got from 3peat Los Angeles, I literally spent all my Christmas money on it but I wore the fuck out of it.
3peat LA was the shit; their Bape inventory was insane. So fast-forward to now, I see you’re heavy into Japanese street wear brands such as number nine, undercover, and more high-end brands like Rick Owens. Tell the readers how you got introduced to these brands?
J: So I started learning about new brands through music especially during my freshmen and sophomore year of high school. Artist like Play Boi Carti really put me on different brands, he would name-drop so many designers. So naturally I became interested and started researching and learning about these brands.
So how does this transition to your current project? Tell the readers about your brand, and how it started.
J: During my sophomore and junior year of high school I start having ideas about starting my own clothing brand. It was only ideas for the most part; it didn't come to life until I graduated high school. The brand initially was me doing one of ones on a sewing machine my parents got me.
It’s interesting that you took the hands on approach as opposed to printing graphics on clothes. Is there any particular reason why you chose this route?
J: There were a couple kids at my school at the time making clothes by screen-printing shirts, so I just stood away from that and wanted to start working with denim first. I mainly just appreciated it way more and understood the time and effort behind it with the denim. Also, Brick Owens played a role in why I chose the sewing machine. Not sure if you remember but during that time he would open up limited slots for his 1 of 1 commissioned denim. I thought that was so dope, I wanted to do the same but obviously with my personal take.
We remember Bricks 1of1 commissioned denim they were fire! So what have been some challenges you’ve faced with starting a brand?
J: It’s mainly been my own insecurities; at times I worry too much about what people would think especially at the beginning. To briefly touch on it but that’s the inspiration behind my IG name, justinswar_. Obviously I’m Justin and the war is within my head, whether it be me having a bunch of ideas at once or just being consumed with other crazy shit that goes on in my in head.
We were curious about your IG name, thanks for touching on that. Also you mentioned the Fuck You denim, what was the inspiration behind those and how receptive was your audience to them?
J: The word fuck you is just a strong word, I just wanted to put that on some denim.
So I first came up with the pair on the back with the old English text then randomly thought about the front pair! I randomly made em and show my homie Brandon (I know if he says something is hard, then it’s hard haha). I also had all the homies in them, so it built the hype up then ending up getting pairs to other big people before releasing them. So when I finally posted them on my IG so many people were asking me about them so I just ended up making like 30 pairs and released em! People love them to this day I get like 10 dm’s a day asking if I’m making more or if I’m going to release them again.
That’s so sick! How does it feel seeing people in you brand?
J: That shit is crazy it still hasn’t hit me yet that people really fuck with it (laughs*) shits a BLESSING!
So what’s next for you and what advice would you give someone trying to start a clothing brand?
J: So I’m officially naming the brand anxiety. The name anxiety came from my Instagram name justinswar_. I wanted them to have a similar meaning. So I randomly thought of that for some reason. I feel like the anxiety plays a part in the war in my head.
What’s next for me is just taking my brand more serious; I’m putting out a lifestyle video showing all the homies wearing the clothes; so be on the look out for that! I want to start dropping more clothes every month type shit, and doing pop ups in different states! I’m doing my first pop up with eightonethree. this Friday Feb 5th, from 1-5pm at Hyde House so y’all can come kick it and show love
Advice I would give for somebody starting a brand is.... shit I’m still trying figure this out myself lmfao nah but for real I would say don’t give a fuck about what people think, don’t try to force some ideas, and don’t try to make clothes just because you think they would sell make clothes you would actually wear!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
J: I want to shout out my parents, baby jay, brad, Alejandro and the rest of the people that support my brand and me.