Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with a good friend of mine, Mingo. He’s the co-founder and art director of BORN&HATED, A.K.A. B&H, one of my favorite independent Chicago brands. Some of his designs are simple, yet robust while others are very indicative of the street culture B&H sets out to represent. Describe his work however you’d like, it just screams Chicago to me; a Chicago you probably weren’t very familiar with just a year or two ago.
And so, with the spirit of Chicago’s Fashion Week still vaguely, kind of, not really visible in my rear view and well, because most of my posts will pertain to Chicago in one form or another, I decided to ask him some questions- for your benefit of course. As Mingo would say, “PEEP GAME” below and check out the online store. I’m sure you’ll find something for the kids.
“Little kiss, Little hug”
Obe: Describe B&H’s mission. Mingo: Proof that people can rise above the hate and look good doing it as well, by wearing our gear.
Obe: Tell me about B&H. What was your initial vision and why did you create it? Mingo: Well it started with me and a friend wanting to start a website with our shared photography which held photos of our everyday lives, things like skateboarding, partying, bike rides, etc. We first came up with “Born Hated” but it just didn’t fit; so then I thought, we grew up in the city of hate and we were born and raised here, hence “BORN&HATED” was born. First it was a website of just photos of city famous friends doing what they do best whether it be graffiti, skateboarding, or DJ’ing. Then one thing led to another and I came out with the first logo, which was a simple “B&H” design and it stuck. We would give away a bunch of tanks and tees for free to the homies to promote on all sides of the city. And it worked. The word spread pretty fast, and from there I took over the online store.
Obe: What are your main influences? Mingo: Main influences would be the brands in the city like LEADERS and SAINT ALFREDS and I would say THRASHER AND MICHEAL KORS for sure have been a big influence in the designs.
Obe: What is the Chicago market like for Independent brands like yours? Mingo: The Chicago market is a very hard and intricate market. The fact that there is 4 seasons is one reason; another fact is that there are hundreds of different independent brands in the city already and more popping up every year but we stay humble and try our best to keep every season of B&H clothing fresh; something that’s relatable but still differentiates us from everyone else.
Obe: How do you keep your product line relevant and fresh? Mingo: Well my thought on keeping the B&H line fresh is first keeping up with trends because that’s just the way fashion works. We like to drop items that may seem bizarre to the norm.
Obe: What’s your creative process for coming up with new products/designs? Mingo: The creative process is kind of hard to explain. I have made every logo for B&H and each one has come to me in sleep or by daydreaming or even by listening to a song. First, I think of an idea, then it hits the computer screen and if it makes it past that then it goes into production. After that, if it still makes it past the judgment of a homie or myself, wearing it for a few days, then finally it hits the website.
Obe: What are your main challenges? Mingo: Main challenges would be: to get every culture in the city to relate to the brand and be able to feel comfortable to wear B&H in their nightlife or even during the day. Then after that the WORLD.
Obe: If you could work with a famous designer, who would it be? Mingo: If I could work with a famous designer it would definitely be MICHAEL KORS.
Obe: End Game: Where is it going and how do you measure success? Mingo: End game: we are selling items around the world; the U.S. Mexico, Japan, and a few cities in Europe. Success will only come once me and the team lose the fear of failure.
Obe: Do you have any new gear in the pipeline or dropping this Fall/Winter you’d like to tell us about? Mingo: New gear is definitely in the loop. A new video will be dropping soon and also new winter/fall gear is already online. SO PEEP GAME AT www.bornandhated.com!
Chicago’s cold, stay warm