I find myself stuck in the past, most days. Not because of some hatred towards innovation, but because time moves too fast, especially nowadays. It’s not like before, when 5 years felt like 10. Life, in general, had much more of a pronounced richness to it. Our brains were allowed to marinate in pop culture, music, fashion… life… and not drop down to the second page in a matter of minutes. I find inspiration in places and spaces of the past, eras immortalized in infinity, that can be visited at the touch of a button on my iPod. Yep, I still use an iPod, with the wheel! My favorite music remains in the ’60s and ’70s. I submerge myself in CCR and Otis Redding whenever time permits. It’s a way of finding authenticity in a time that’s slowly melting away with every new update on my MacBook Pro.
Beautiful F"ul is a brand I discovered a couple of years ago, through my friend David, who’s been in charge of their video productions for sometime. I’m not one of those people that can fully immerse myself into something and live in it for years at a time. I have a short attention span and suffer from ADD, so I need to be constantly evolving and discovering to survive.
Inspired by the ’50s, with hints of lowrider culture and Angeleno history, Beautiful F"ul is the brainchild of Los Angeles native Alejandro Rodriguez, a self-taught designer with a penchant for superb quality and attention to detail. It’s really what makes the brand so cool. Awesome fabrics, great cuts and an ode to a generation that just seemed a little more… badass.
Japanese cotton Hawaiian Floral Shirt from Spring 2014 Collection
The name Beautiful F"ul.. how’d that come about?
In high school we had to read The Great Gatsby and there was just something about it. I loved the book, I loved the story... how he [Jay Gatsby] came from nothing. It was all cool to me. That whole era I loved. It wasn’t the ’50s but it was very cool to me. Men were manly ass men. There was a quote in the book, where Daisy, one of the main characters of the story, said to her cousin: “I hope she’ll be a fool - that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” That stuck with me forever.
My mom always told me, you put your own problems in your way. You’re always making problems for yourself and you’re tripping over [your] own stones that you’re dropping in front of you. I remember in high school, there would be these crazy fuckin’ kids, who would be like, “I’m gonna be an astronaut!” And all the other kids would be like, “Shut up, no you’re not!” But they would go on and do it. They did what they said they were going to do, because the less you know the more you’re able to jump in and not think about what you’re doing wrong - you just think about how you can make it go right. I just thought that was great. Beautiful Fool. Once I locked in on that, I thought to myself… a Mexican kid from LA, growing up saying, “Wassup fool! Wassup fool!” That was perfect. [laughs]
It’s obvious you’re a born and raised Angeleno - it’s the first thing you mentioned to me [laughs]. Is that what you tie your designs back to? Growing up in LA?
I’m gonna say this shit and it sounds kinda corny, but it’s really just how I grew up. When I was 12 years old, my mom had me in cowboy boots and Levi’s, with vintage T-shirts on. She was always wearing that kind of stuff and my grandpa was straight cowboy. He was American Indian, but he was a cowboy. I have pictures of him with holsters and the cowboy hat. My dad was raised in LA, he came when he was 3 years old from Mexico and was raised in Venice with all his family. All his friends were into the car culture… gangster lowriders. I grew up with those kids too, so I reference a lot from where and who I grew up with.
You love the ’50s, don’t you?
Definitely the ’50s and early ’60s. There’s just something about that time. Back then the youth were rebellious. That’s when jeans and T-shirts came in. I’ve always been into that whole James Dean, greaser kind of life. I was driving a ’64 Impala Super Sport. A hot rod. It wasn’t a lowrider, it was a straight hot rod. I’ve just always been into that whole look.
Convertible Collar Flannel Shirt from Spring 2014 Collection
I’ve been fortunate to see hundreds of brand visuals over the past few years. Honestly, there’s only a few that really stuck with me over time. How important is it to capture these eras in your imagery? This latest lookbook was killer.
We were just talking about it the other [day]. It never really hit me until this last lookbook. That was always the goal... oh, it’s Cuban-inspired so let’s shoot it so it looks like Cuba! Its rock ‘n’ roll, so fuck it, let’s do it like that! Not that I lived in those eras in some past lives I’ve had, but I feel like I know enough about those times through books and movies that it’s kind of easy. But I didn’t realize until this last collection, that oh shit, we’re really making this look like a ’50s movie. I was like, are people gonna think that’s weird? You know you can get the inspiration, but few are doing the ducktail and the pompadours with the cars at the ’50s milkshake shop. They’ll put it in front of a white backdrop and I can see the inspiration, but it was funny to me, it really hit me, like we’re shooting Castro running around the jungle for Spring ’13 and now we got Cry-Baby, Johnny Depp-lookin’ mother fuckers for Spring ’14.
Speaking of Castro… I remember seeing a short doc on your trip to Cuba. How was that?
I’m very stubborn and get stuck in my own ways. I don’t like stepping outside the box, but my brother for his birthday wanted to go to Cuba. I don’t know why he chose Cuba. I was like, “Naw man, I don’t want to go, its too expensive there.” I made every excuse in the book. He was like, “Naw, man I already paid for it, let’s go.” So I went, not thinking anything of it. Once I got there, something hit me. The more you travel, the more you realize how small your own world is and you realize that it’s not just about everything you see right in front of you… That the world has a lot more to offer and a lot of stories to tell you. So I came back, still not knowing that I was gonna do a collection on Cuba, but I really started getting ideas for everything. You know, the embargo and the Kennedy and the missile crisis... I was always interested in all of that and on paper I thought: Damn, communism would be cool! Until you get there, man. That was a whole different story.
Selects from Spring 2013 Lookbook
Your storefront is celebrating a year soon? Whats been the most important facet of having an actual brick and mortar retail location?
I don’t think there’s a “most important” - it’s all kind of equally important, but one thing is that you get to actually feel the aesthetic. It’s not just about the clothing and styling, but the whole experience. I’ve had a lot of people come in and they’re just like, “Wow!“ It’s a sanctuary almost. You get to step out of downtown and walk into a cool, artsy man-cave type of space. That’s the first thing that hits you when you walk in. Then being able to see the clothing and see how it’s put together. It’s not too crazy but also not too conservative. Then after that, it’s being able to feel the actual fabrics. You can have great designs, but sometimes the fabric is what matters the most. If you have shitty fabric, it’s not gonna work. Sometimes you can have somewhat okay design with great fabric and it’s amazing. A lot of menswear is that - basic stuff with great fabric and that’s what makes it special.
Unless you know the brand from buying it previously, you don’t know how its going to fit. Being able to try it on let’s you really know how its gonna look on you. I’ve seen it happen. There’s guys who come in, they try something on and buy it and they leave the next day to New York, or wherever they’re from, and then we’ll start getting online orders from them. Without an actual store, that wouldn’t be possible.
Who inspires you?
One of my biggest to this day is still Ralph Lauren. Talk shit about however you think his clothes is... pink polo shirts and all that, but he was the first and still really one of the only true lifestyle brands. A lot of people say, “I’m a lifestyle brand”... shut the fuck up! Just cause you made a video around this shit you’re a lifestyle now? Fuck you! [laughs]
He sells fucking paint for your house - that you live in! That is your lifestyle! You can dry yourself in a Ralph Lauren towel, then put on Ralph Lauren socks and underwear.
I got a Ralph Lauren pillow.
Yea, me too! [laughs] You can sleep on Ralph Lauren. I mean, he’s the man when it comes to that! What’s he worth? 7 billion or something? Come on! He’s a kid from the Bronx who grew up with nothing. That is the American Dream right there. That’s what I’m into, you know? It’s the same reason why I like The Great Gatsby. He came from nothing and made something of himself.
For those interested in visiting the brand’s flagship store in Los Angeles:
107 W. 5th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013