I don’t take trips down memory lane often, but it’s amazing to think that Anwar Carrots and I have been friends for over 10 years now. In conversation, I always refer to him as my partner because our working relationship was the perfect union. Two kids from different places, but with similar taste. Hip-hop is the real intersection of our relationship. Not only is it the music of our generation but it’s the culture that inspires us. From Gucci Mane Hood Affairs DVDs to Rocawear denim suits, hip-hop was the fuel that inspired us to make our mark on the world.
Since our departure from Peas and Carrots Intl., I always get the question, “When’s the last time you spoke to Anwar?” It always takes me aback, because we speak weekly and it sucks to think people saw our friendship as just a business venture. In the end, things fall apart but the passion, love, and respect is what stands the test of time. Recently, I sat down with Anwar to talk about his current business venture, Carrots By Anwar Carrots and his roots in Los Angeles streetwear.
Josh Peas: Alright folks, Josh Peas here interviewing Anwar Carrots.
Anwar Carrots: Yes.
…While smoking on these Frenchie sticks. That’s what they call joints around my way.
Yes. With no tobacco.
Alright, so just gonna keep this real casual. Tell us about—what’s the mission statement for your brand? Or do you even have one?
I do not have a mission statement for the brand. Moreso mission statement is... pretty much explaining who I am and what I’ve done. And what I’m all about. Who I am: I’m Anwar Carrots, creative director of Carrots by Anwar Carrots, former co-founder of Peas & Carrots International. I’m a creative director and I specialize in simplicity, as far as design goes and creative direction.
That’s good, I actually like that. It’s funny that you mention Peas & Carrots, I mean, me being Peas, you being Carrots. How big of a piece of your story is Peas & Carrots? ‘Cause I find myself—
Bingo. I mean, it’s still PNCINTL [laughs]. Kind of funny in a sense, but hey, you see it’s still going. Now it’s just Peas and Carrots doing—Peas doing Peas, Carrots doing Carrots. It is what it is.
“It wasn’t even about fashion or music, shit, lifestyle—it’s California, living better.”
No, that’s a great way to think about it. That was really just a personal question that I wanted to answer ‘cause I always think about explaining my story to people and what I’ve been through.
It’s always gonna go to that. You can’t hide that shit at the end of the day it’s moreso, I guess, what did you do after you left and were you able to maintain what you were doing after Peas & Carrots International. So I guess that’s what matters the most is the growth—of everything we’ve been doing.
So tell us a little about the early days of Fairfax—even before Peas & Carrots. I would definitely say, even you more than me, is one of the founders of that Fairfax scene. So I think—give us a little bit of insight into why you chose Fairfax, why you were around there, what was it like when it was a scene actually?
I mean, first, even to start off, before even Fairfax, it was on Melrose and Fairfax... between Spaulding and Fairfax right at Teenage Millionaire.
That was the start. But it was still connected to what we all loved and the reason why we doin’ this, which is Japanese streetwear AKA Pharrell AKA Nigo. And that shit—it was just like the Teenage Millionaire, the Diamond—it just had that same N.E.R.D. feel that was going on at the time and whatever, but for me it wasn’t N.E.R.D., it was just like a BAPE feel. It was like, oh these are tees I can get off style-wise for $10 a pop? [Scoffs] I’m gettin’ 10 of ‘em on Friday [laughs]. So it was that, but Fairfax was moreso a summertime thing. It was just somewhere to go for the summer that was away from shit—I mean, we from South Central. I moved out here, I was right there on Adams, 25th and 3rd Ave.
It was a gateway. So that whole area, between being on Fairfax, being on Beverly, being on 3rd Street. That whole Fairfax and 3rd Street shit was just—I don’t know, inspiring, to even see apartments over there, like shit I would wanna live over here. Cars motherfuckers was driving—you didn’t see that shit where niggas stayed. Like shit, I’m on 25th and 3rd, you was on King and Crenshaw. Dane in the Dons, fuckin’ Yori on Cherry.
We all in South Central, like gettin’ out of this space to become—I mean, to become or just live better or be better for yourself—by seeing other motherfuckers doing that same shit too. Thinking, Okay, if they can do this shit, I can do this shit too. It wasn’t even about fashion or music, shit, lifestyle—it’s California, living better.
That’s funny, ‘cause when I mention that to people they don’t get it. For me, it was just moreso being in a different area than home—in the neighborhood and being at home and being around all the squalor in the ghetto, for lack of a better word. So I mean, shit, Fairfax and just that area was you know…
Just fresh. Shit, you can go get gear here? Go to La Brea and get gear, go to Stussy, go to Union, Undefeated. It was just different. I’m ‘bout to go to the mall, go to Fox, Crenshaw, I mean we still did both. It was like the parallels of doing both, the juxtaposition—the hipster and hood shit, bringing the two together.
You mentioned Teenage Millionaire early on. What were some other brands you saw very early that attracted you to this area?
Mainly, I would say, number one was Stussy. One, because I walked in there just off the humbug on the regular to buy a T-shirt. I remember the lady too put me onto the shoot with Victoria or Virginia. She was like, “Yo, we love your look. Would you like to be in the Stussy lookbook?” I’m like, a lookbook? I didn’t know what the hell a lookbook was in 2006, so I said was like, well shit, sure, let’s do it. Did it. At the time I did that shoot, I met Peanut Butter Wolf, he was cool as shit. Mind you, I didn’t know who the fuck Peanut Butter Wolf was, I just thought this man name—he called hisself Peanut Butter. What type of white dude names himself Peanut Butter but whatever.
And then to find out later on who that guy is. And we did the shot also with Erin Wasson and Erin was a Victoria’s Secret model. I end up working with her boyfriend at the time, Yohan from Rogue Status. Finding out that the types of people I was around were doing great things. Their creative space was tight.
Oh yeah, early brands. So yeah, Stussy, Teenage Millionaire—Teenage just fell in there because of the $10 T-shirts, period. If that wasn’t around, whatever, I’d still be wearing what I was wearing, but $10 T-shirts, you couldn’t beat that.
Honestly the designs of that shit was dope.
I fuck with Teenage Millionaire to this day. I mean, I don’t wear it to this day, but I still think it’s—
Jesus Is My Homeboy was a hit.
So yeah, Red Clay, King Stampede. Maharishi, Fucking Awesome, Phenomenon, Swagger, and Rogue Status. Those are the first ones I saw early.
Speaking of Rogue Status, you did the shoot with Stussy. Erin was a part of it. Yo was her boyfriend at the time, did you guys meet on that shoot? How did you come to meet Yo and become a part of the Rogue Status family?
While we was out kicking it and shit, my mom started dating Sterfon. Sterfon was working on ER at the time, Jasper was the boo man [at Rogue Status]. And Sterfon as he still does was hair and make up and he just saw this dude out there bustin’ his ass, gettin’ tired, gettin’ annoyed, and just started talking to him, pretty much just wanted to know his story, “So what’s your story, what are you trying to do?” Saw he wore cool sneakers. He talked to him and found out he was the brand manager for this brand Rogue Status. He said, “Oh! Well, my girl, her son, he’s into streetwear, maybe you can meet up, link him up.”
Think about that.
That’s crazy. That doesn’t happen first of all.
When you do hear it, it sounds like an obligation, who knows. Jasper probably thought, “Oh fuck. I gotta meet this kid,” and what have you.
“Maybe I was a bit too comfortable… But it also taught me: I want to be comfortable. I need to get my own shit.”
Even the dynamic of a stepfather introducing you to your first job almost. It wasn’t your first job, just putting you onto a job. That’s not something that happens often.
It wasn’t even stepdad then. That was just off the humbug—he was just looking out ‘cause he knew I fucked with that type of shit. So shout out to Sterfon forever. And then that went from, “Yo, you got an opportunity to meet these guys here. They want to meet you. Venice, 7 o’clock. At their crib.” I remember I took the bus there. Crazy story after I tell you what happens! So I take the bus there. Jay Z Kingdom Come had just come out.
It’s funny, that album came out today. This is the date that Kingdom Come came out.
It was on a Friday. First time I was ever getting free T-shirts, understanding what a blog was. I knew what a blog was, but they showed me really what a blog was on how they posted. It was really lifestyle, they didn’t write no words, it was just pictures. Pictures say a thousand words, you get what you get when I post it. And the caption was everything—their whole shit was captions. Get the T-shirts, I met Yo, I met Rex. It was chill, it was cool. I thought, this was a good feeling, this was tight. Thank you for having me here, I wasn’t expecting this, and then I said, “Well, if you guys need any help, shit, let me know.”
After I left, Yori and Gio picked me up.
So random [laughs].
[Laughs] And we went to the crab shack. Where were we at? We were in some of them black—it was in the marina—it was black but suburbs...
Definitely in Westchester.
It was a dinner party. Yori was like, “What the fuck?” This shit was so foreign. This was not LA people. It was different [laughs]. It felt normal. It felt like black kids, a real dinner party, people conversing. It wasn’t like, “I need the tea.”
[Laughs] I don’t think anybody had dinner parties like you had dinner parties.
Damn. It’s funny, dinner parties was like a real culture. I don’t even know if that’s a culture still in high skill for kids.
That’s so LA shit.
But even with kids nowadays. They not going to dinner parties. My nephew is not going to dinner parties.
They not even going to parties. It’s sad to say but, shit—niggas meet up at the gear line or something, gonna cop some swag. Meet the homie at the store.
We gonna meet up at the line up—[laughs] the Supreme line up. You told us about the beginning, meeting Rogue Status. Rogue Status was a very important part of your story.
Speaking of The Hundreds. True story: I got my job while I was at The Hundreds. After school, I don’t remember what day it was—Bobby would even know the date—the bomb New Era dropped. Went, bought the hat. I copped the black one, I was like, Yes, I got this fitted. Bought it, crossed the street, walking up towards Fairfax. I don’t know where I was going, meeting up with y’all... but Jasper called me, like, [British accent], “Hey man, like yeah, I was calling because we’re about to open up the store and wanted to know if you wanted to work.” I was like, fuck yeah. That was a real job. I was working on Crenshaw/Washington, any change from that I was done. But same time, I fucked with Melrose Rack.
Yeah, Melrose Rack on Crenshaw and Washington. That’s a staple in the hood. White tees and thongs [laughs]. Shit’s crazy.
And fugazi denim.
Aw yeah, they used to have the 7’s.
And the sneakers.
And the Antiks. Wow.
Shout out to Muhammad on the fake Bapes.
[Laughs] So it’s funny that these two stories intertwine, the Rogue Status and The Hundreds, because they start to intertwine a lot more as you start to work with them. It was even like a little beef. I feel like we’re so far ahead of that now that we can speak on it.
I was lowkey banned from the store because on Halloween somebody busted some windows out of his car. I said, nigga, I had an alibi, I was with the homies. We weren’t worried about y’all, we weren’t going to nobody car [laughs].
I remember this. I definitely remember this, I ain’t gonna even front, I was a little disappointed in The Hundreds for that.
But I feel them. I’m not out here vandalizing, we were out here tryna get money stay fresh. Young.
I’m on the same shit, ain’t shit changed. Got a baby [laughs].
So let’s speak on it. There was definitely a rift between Rogue Status and The Hundreds. You would think in the streetwear world, you would think there’d be more camaraderie, but there was definitely some type of issue or problem. Tell us about your position in all of that and what it was for you.
Honestly, for me, it was just loyalty. To keep it simple in that whole thing. They were just riffing back and forth. ‘Cause at the end of the day it’s my job, that’s it, it’s my job! But whatever I gotta do that’s getting me paid. Do what we gotta do. I know we had a The Hundreds drive. You dropped off your Hundreds gear, you get a free Rogue tee.
Wow, see I don’t even remember that, that’s amazing. Them niggas take it to the next level with beef [laughs].
They were so petty. It was funny though, Yo was creative. Yo was super creative. We had bins of that shit, we’d donate it to the Goodwill in Venice.
…I remember doing the blog post when we did this, I got rid of my [The Hundreds] hat that day. I had already got the fit off. We got the hat off already. Still love that hat, that was a good hat.
So you’re over in Venice.
We did a song.
Wow, the song!
We recorded it with Tyler and Casey.
I remember the blog post with the photo. The T-shirt drive is new to me.
“Streetwear is dead, The Hundreds killed it.” And Bobby was like, “[Scoffs], listen, you can look at it both ways!” [Laughs] and I was like, wow ok.
Shoutout to Bobby [Hundreds] for running with it though. You know, that’s a sign of a great mind, someone who can take a negative and make it a positive. So what brings you back to the Fairfax block? You’re on Venice with the guys, you’re hanging out, you’re building something there.
Got fired [from Rogue Status] for the Valentine’s Day video, bro. Lonely boys. Filmed a video in the store, got fired. That was my first time ever getting fired. I realized I never wanna get fired. 19, I was in college, I felt like my whole shit just—[throws something].
Carrots by Anwar Carrots Spring/Summer 2015 included collaborations with Born x Raised and Ebbets Field Flannels.
He just threw his lighter, folks [laughs]. That tells you how he really felt. I remember that too, ‘cause I remember being sad. Like damn, did we just get the homies fired? And it wasn’t even anything that I did directly, but being around—
It was all me, it wasn’t your fault at all. I was going dumb on top of the car, standing on top of the car, put it on Facebook, some way somehow got bubbling within the city. Yo saw the shit. Store poppin’ on a Saturday. Did like 2k sales that day, it was a good day for him. Comes in on a bike, I’ll never forget, white tee, shants (short pants) on with dirty ass chucks. Pulls up on a bike, throws the bike on the floor. “Anwar, get the fuck up here!” I was like, the fuck? “Go on Facebook,” lights a joint. “Anwar, what the fuck is this?! This shit is making a mockery of the fucking brand.”
But I get it when I think about it. One: Maybe I was a bit too comfortable. I learned. But it also taught me: I want to be comfortable. I need to get my own shit, get my own car. I don’t know. I learned a lot of different lessons that day. I got fired, I couldn’t focus on school. Smoke weed. And then literally after that week—it was that first week of like damn, noooo—suddenly I realized I don’t got a job. I got it easy going back to Melrose Rack, but I felt like this was what I wanted to do, this was my opportunity. I had my own blog with the homies. Shit. We could do this shit too. [Laughs]
“We were living this LA life right now, so might as well showcase it.”
I felt like we were always consumers of streetwear, but I feel like just indirectly with your experiences at Rogue and just being around and seeing the inner workings of it, it gave us that confidence and that drive, like shit, we could do it too.
They live life, but we were different, we were living this LA life right now, so might as well showcase it. Take the pictures, throwin’ it up on the blog, going to the parties. It was some other shit, I guess local celeb type shit. Funny.
And that was one thing I was very conscious of. I saw how they did it and how other people did it, and other brands, and for me just being like a black male in LA, this was, to me, the greatest city in the world. I’m a black man, and the people who dictate the culture, it’s like, nigga, we really out here living life. I’m really going to parties and parties are ending because it’s getting shot up.
We could die. Tonight.
Then I see a streetwear tee, kind of not making a mockery, but depicting guns and things like that.
It’s just like how music is now.
Yeah, it’s very much like how music is now. I just remember always thinking like, Shit, I’m really living this.
You talked a little about being your own boss. So tell me when you started your own brand. I’m Josh Peas, I know the Peas & Carrots story, I want to know the Carrots by Anwar Carrots story.
Literally closed the store in November, PNCSS, done. Go into this mode of like, Damn, is shit done? Is it really done? Literally, just like when I got fired, just let it sit in for a week, then back at it. I was like, Well, fuck. Chandler said, “Just do another brand.” My mom was saying the same thing. Everybody’s like, “Just do another brand.” I said, “What do I call it, Carrots?” Carrots by Anwar Carrots. It was like Polo by Ralph Lauren, but it’s just Polo, he’s just referencing a sport to play off as an ethos from the beginning, but it ended up being more about Polo. Same shit, Carrots is bigger than just the vegetables itself.
So tell us a little bit about Carrots the brand. You mentioned earlier, it’s simple by nature. Break it down for us, even your script is your signature, right?
The signature came from when I did the Puma shoe.There was that carrot, I wanted more to it because the leaf I did was one leaf with one stem, it was nasty. I said, “Uh, Chandler, we gotta clean this up.” Just like we did the Peas & Carrots logo, we gotta clean this up, give some weight to it, give it some symmetry. I wanted something clean. Just like how we did Peas & Carrots, I looked at Crooks & Castles and that ampersand. Carrots more so it was like, how can I sell this name and make it look clean and nice? Like Chloe. How do you sell the name Chloe to someone whose name isn’t Chloe? Wordmarks stood out to me, I liked how it looked with the serif. Something like Chloe but our own font. It was clean. Chloe is more geared towards bags, but I wanted Carrots to be a bunch of different shit, kind of like Chanel, but I didn’t want a Chanel font.
“I would fucking do a QVC collab for sure.”
It’s funny, because you said it’s just for bags, because you’re a full lifestyle brand. Your collection could be some lighters, it could be some sweatpants, it’s like everything. Not a lot of brands come out like that. A lot of brands add it on later on.
You come out like that, that’s how you gon’ end up forever. That’s how people are gonna view you. It’s perception. With music, sometimes it’s kind of hard to listen to certain artists after they’re refined because their first stuff is like eh, but with certain artists their first shit is like eh, then eh, when they get better, it’s ooh. But that’s the difference between really liking music itself or liking the idea of music and what it sounds like and the aesthetic of it. I think that’s how I’ve always approached music. It sound good, it look good. Full package.
Alright, so your brand is very product-driven. Heavy graphic design, heavy graphics, period. Is that a conscious decision or is it something that just happens?
I don’t know, just focus on what you’re good at. Me? I’m not like a “designer-designer” I guess—I’m moreso like a marketer. I’m good at marketing and branding, if anything, so I’d rather just focus on the brand itself than focus on graphics. When I do graphics, that’s why when I do collabs with different people I have graphics that I appreciate and like, intertwine and make it part of my brand.
It’s almost like you’re curating your brand.
Like the Dertbag one, with the Cam’ron on the tee. Like, I wish we made that tee. Oh, we did! Let’s do our own.
That’s a great point [laughs].
It’s the same as Hiroshi [Fujiwara]—Hiroshi just takes shit and just adds his shit to it. If it was him, this is what he’d do to it. This is what I’d do to it.
Anwar Carrots X Puma Suede.
You’ve mentioned, like being at an intersection between Martha Stewart and Nigo.
Super easy. Nigo: branding, aesthetic, creative direction, product. Martha Stewart: Same shit, but on an American scale and literally for every-fucking-body. Imagine BAPE on QVC. If BAPE did an exclusive for QVC. It would never happen because it’s a Japanese brand so he doesn’t think like that, but what if he was Martha Stewart? They would be jumping through the roof.
So we can expect a QVC collab?
I would fucking do a QVC collab for sure. That’s some Shark Tank shit. I want to do it with Martha Stewart, that shit would be fire. A real Martha Stewart collab, I saw some shit, I was looking on her Instagram, [she said], ”Gone in 70 seconds.” She jumped off something, it was something she was boomin’. But her Instagram’s life. I’ll be looking at her shit, she’s in Africa fucking feeding elephants and shit, riding on elephants through the water...
Same with Nigo. He’s on the same tip with rap shit, but it’s more calm. I don’t know, it’s how he approaches it, I guess for Japanese culture adding in his influence of hip-hop culture.
It really comes down to curating a lifestyle. That’s something that Nigo does very well and that’s something that Martha Stewart does very well, and they come from two different walks of life. One’s American, one’s Japanese, one’s into cooking and fashion, one’s into fashion and music. They intertwine at the fashion point, but it’s funny when you really think about it, they do match.
It’s like, what if I can take how BAPE looks and make it the same price as Martha Stewart shit and still sell that. Still be to where you can do both. You can do the Dover Street Market collab, then next week go to QVC selling something to middle America.
You want it to be accessible, you want people to have it.
It’s Carrots. If you think about one shirt we did, “Dig for Victory,” that was about World War II. The only thing that put money in your pocket, the main crop was carrots, you were making ends off carrots.
“We grew up on urban wear, I didn’t even grow up on streetwear.”
You just want to plant as many crops and plant as many fields as possible, right?
Who don’t want carrots?
It’s funny, ‘cause the streetwear mentality is to always be exclusive and I think that’s what sets you apart.
We grew up on urban wear, I didn’t even grow up on streetwear, so that’s another thing too. I guess why a lot of kids we were around that grew up on skateboarding culture—I saw it, but that wasn’t my world. Shit, we grew up on Sean Jean, Marc Ecko, Rocawear, you seen these dudes doing 350 M’s.
I didn’t come from that bad of a situation like them, I lived pretty fine, lived in a good family, still kind of didn’t have shit, but to come from like literally nothing to 350 million dollars. I don’t mean nothing, but these guys had no fashion background, didn’t go to fashion school. Motherfuckers was just doing the same city shit, had the homie that rapped, fucked with the rap shit like, “Oh shit, my homie ‘bout to pop. Let’s figure this out.” Try to go from figuring it out to 350 M’s in your pocket. Sounds fun to me.
Nah, definitely. You have a different mentality than most in the streetwear market I think. When I think about it, I’m always like, “Dude, who are the black-owned streetwear companies?” And it’s not really any besides you. I can’t really think of any, honestly.
But you’re talking about what’s “considered” streetwear. Union now, but he like literally just put out a collection last week for the first time. So shouts to him for joining the ranks. You like Fear of God? Off-White?
See, I’m like, those are good ones, but are those streetwear?
It’s “contemporary streetwear.” It’s kind of weird because I fit in the contemporary streetwear bracket just off the sense of branding, being a person, being in the same facilities as these same people talking to us. We had an office next to Jerry [Lorenzo].
The Hundreds by Anwar Carrots, dropping this Thursday.
Tell us about your first interactions with The Hundreds. When I remember The Hundreds early on, I remember seeing it at Active. I remember it was one of the times I saw streetwear off of the blog, it was at Active in Santa Monica.
I think it was still through blogs. Like Hypebeast, I remember finding Hypebeast in ‘05 ‘cause I was looking for BAPE shit. I remember it looked super different, it looked so different. To see what it is now it’s like, wow. ‘Cause I remember y’all shit was like this white page, random digital camera photos of people’s parties and shit. Random gear from Japan. And I found The Hundreds blog and started reading their blog about the trade shows. I remember I wanted to do one of these trade shows, I wanted to go to one so bad.
I hate tradeshows [laughs].
But I was like there’s so much new clothes—it’s new shit that no one’s ever seen and you get to see this shit first. I didn’t give a fuck about selling or meeting people or nobody. I don’t even like talking to people at trade shows, I just wanna see the clothes. It’s a trade show! Let me convention-up! This is a convention at the end of the day. You don’t be going to somebody at Comic-Con and try to chat them up. You let people do they shit. There’s two sides to this shit, but I just wanted to go and look at clothes. Clothes and shoes.
It’s funny, trade shows are an integral part of streetwear. I feel like it’s where a lot of relationships are built, it’s how that industry grew.
But if you put yourself on the inside looking out literally rather than the outside looking in, don’t need it. It’s not needed. It really was not needed. You could travel meet people with way more fire shops than these damn streetwear shops.
Do you remember what your first The Hundreds tee was?
Hell yeah, my favorite T-shirt from them was the gradient Wordmark tee. I like Wordmark tees. They had this gradient when the store opened, I think it was the first one or the second one. It was a sunset gradient, it went from orange to blue, like from sky to water. It had the address on it—I was like, man, you gotta come to the store to get this T-shirt, so I was like I want this shirt. It’s like souvenir type shit, like we go to Good Company, we go to New York. I’m wearing Good Company here ‘cause I bought it in New York. Destination shit.
The Hundreds by Anwar Carrots releases this Thursday, December 7.