Gypsy Sport: 'Baseball Hats are Crowns For Street Kids'
It’s easy to spot Rio Uribe, founder of the urban brand Gypsy Sport. The avant garde looks that the designer is known for are very evident in his personal style, mixing patterns and fabrics like no other. And of course, he has on one of his stellar hats (this one is patterned with subway maps) that put him on the map to begin with. He’s the light and airy kind of friendly that’s so easy to get along with you forget how long you’ve even know each other.
Starting in DIY fashion, the NY native has risen high, but kept to his Harlem based sensibilities. From bringing in acrobats and performers for his Cirque d’Sport show with VFiles, to the impromtu show he did in Washington Square Park, Rio is a pro at breaking the mold. With his recent CDFA Emerging Designer award, Milk Made’s Jordan Mack got to sit with the designer and talk about everything from the upcoming show, to his rapper name, even to ponder a future in trapeze.
I heard the big news about your show! Are you guys excited?
Really excited. I’m freaking out, but it’s still so exciting. I think we all work really well under pressure too, so it’ll be good.
So how did you guys come up with Gypsy Sport as the name of your brand?
The name came from an actual term that’s used to describe any sport or any game that’s made without rules. I saw it on Urban Dictionary. I was considering calling the line Gypsy Gentleman, but that sounded too buttoned up and sophisticated. When I heard Gypsy Sport I thought, ‘That’s it. That’s the name of my brand.’
The patterns and colors are crazy. How do you come up with them?
Last season, I was inspired by the MTA subway map. I had one hanging in my bedroom. Somehow it just came to me that the colors on there were perfect for spring. It was pastel green and ocean blue. So I took those colors from the subway map last season. This season, I was going for more of an Afro-futurist vibe. It was a lot of mustard colors and Kente cloth. I’m inspired by National Geographic. Whatever I see there comes into the collection.
Gypsies are seen as outsiders in society. Do you feel like a gypsy yourself? Do you see a ‘gypsiness’ in other people?
I’m really inspired by the gypsy lifestyle, which to me doesn’t refer to one culture of people. There are gypsies all over the world. They’re people that are outsiders, travelers, nomads taking inspiration from everywhere they go and everything they touch to incorporate that into their own personal style. I wanted to capture that in the collection. We’re all definitely gypsies. We’ve all moved around the world as kids, still travel to this day. We’re inspired by more things than just our race or ethnicity. It goes beyond that. It’s completely cross-cultural.
The show Cirque d’Sport was very different. There were acrobats and other performers. What made you decide to really break out of what a runway show is?
Well, the first show we did was with VFashion, and the second one we did was at Washington Square Park. That was because we were on such a low budget that we couldn’t find a space in time, but it was also about connecting with the community and giving the fashion to the public. The circus theme came through because the collection was very clowny for Fall 15. It was baggy with ruffles, so we had meetings at the Gypsy Sport studio, and we were bouncing around ideas. The one that stuck was making our own Cirque du Soleil, which is where Cirque d’Sport came from. We’re all outsiders so we like to break the rules wherever we can and hold our own freak show.
For Cirque d’Sport you said that you were looking to make more genderless clothing. Do you think that that’s where GS and the industry on a whole is headed?
Absolutely. I’ve noticed that a lot of the people Instagramming or buying the products are girls. I can’t call it menswear if half of the customers are girls. I’m still designing stuff that I want to wear and that I want to see people wearing, but it’s less about a man or woman’s body and more about a style. I totally think fashion is going that way. It’s a huge trend now, but I think that when it dies down, boys will still buy women’s wear and and girls will still buy menswear.
Since you were inspired by the circus, if you were a circus performer, what do you think your act would be?
I think I would be a trapeze artist. They get to wear the coolest clothes. It’s also the most heart pounding performance. Plus, I’m Mexican, and in Mexico, most circuses are known for their trapeze artists. I don’t know why but they really love swinging [laughs].
If you weren’t doing fashion, what do you think you’d be doing now?
If I wasn’t a trapeze artist [laughs]? I’m really into music and writing. I used to want to be a songwriter. I have books and books filled with songs that I’ve written that never made it out.
What would your rapper name be?
I think it would be Rio T. It’s my first name, and it also spells riot. It’s kinda cool.
What celebrities or trendsetters do you think embody the gypsy style?
The Smith kids are really pushing the boundaries. I like fine artists like Terence Koh. We’ve been working with an artist named Bjarne Melgaard. He’s Norwegian. His personal style is really cool, but I think his attitude is worldly, but also doesn’t give a fuck. I like that. I also love Aaliyah, 2pac. Who else? Oh, Left Eye for sure. The patron saints of gypsydom.
When do you feel inspiration hit you the hardest?
Probably when I’m high and not talking to people for awhile. I’ll get some divine inspiration. It all really comes together in our group meetings at the studio. We’re all super creative so everyone puts ideas in together. I can’t take credit for everything.
So what’s the fascination with hats?
I love wearing hats. Baseball hats are crowns for street kids. You definitely can represent whatever brand, sports team or print with a hat without speaking. I think it’s just the cherry on top of an outfit. If you are wearing something you really love and you want to add the final touch, it makes all the difference. Hats aren’t for everyone though. I’ve noticed that a lot of people aren’t into them, or think they look stupid in them. I always invite people to come into the studio to see what I can do for them. We don’t throw anything away so I can just take their measurements and make something with our scrap fabrics.
There’s a really big DIY trend in fashion now. You really started in that realm of fashion.
Well for me personally, it was really about the recession. It has continued since the first collection because a lot of times, I want to create more looks than I can buy fabric for, so I’ll take my own merchandise and work with it. At the last show, a bunch of crew just came in with their own stuff like, ‘Here’s some fur, here’s some jeans. Do what you want with it.’ It’s a big response to the recession, but it’s also cool as hell to make your own stuff. It’s original. It’s punk. It fights back against corporations.
Where are you looking for GS to go? It’s your baby. What do you want to see some of it?
It is my baby. It’s also in a weird place. A lot of people are noticing the name and want to know what it is. I’d like to get out to bigger retailers in due time. I want to get into a Barneys or Dover Street Market. I also want to start paying more attention to our art presence, maintaining gallery shows and keeping our presentations and shows artistic and creative. That’s the most fun for us. Once something gets into a store, it’s awesome to see someone buy it and wear it, but the fun is getting it to that point.
Do you have any inspiration for your next collection?
We’re working on Spring 16 right now. The theme is camping and the outdoors, but we’re taking it to outer space.
Camping on the Moon?
Saturn, actually [laughs]. Need the rings. The models will be walking on rings.
Stay tuned for Gypsy Sport’s SS16 show happening today
Check out Gypsy Sport’s clothing here