Rhude AW13 is a full-on carry; luxe materials like Italian Merino, Neoprene, and lambskin add richness, structure and texture to the athletic, unisex silhouettes. Contradictions are recurring within the collection–frail and strong, clean and dirty, masculine and feminine–evoking a tension that seems to be both central and unique to the Rhude design ethos. I certainly don’t see any other 21-year-old male designers showing Italian hand-beaded necklines alongside track pants.
He may be young, but Rhuigi Villasenor, design director and owner of the L.A.-based and globally-stocked label, has been consistently logging serious frequent fashion miles since bursting onto the scene just last year. While some will forever insist on immortalizing him as the omega point of the now-ubiquitous and oft-copied bandanna print t-shirt, he has quietly since moved on, having debuted the first images of his AW ’13 lookbook earlier this year before securing a spot as the youngest name on Complex’s recent list of best designers in their twenties.
“When I designed this collection, I was thinking of shape and how the oversized feel can be perfectly fit for both a man and a woman,” said the yung fashion god, via Skype. “This is the intro to who I am as a designer and the silhouette I want from Rhude for years to come.” Standout pieces like an extremely-oversized loose-knit wool sweater with thumb-holed sleeves that roll up for days, or a full black-and-white lambskin leather crewneck, lay the groundwork for a future brimming with both integrity and longevity. It doesn’t hurt that almost every piece is the type of standout staple, with a twist, that will get better with age and wear.
Like smaller labels often do, Rhude rose directly from the mist into relevance, so I was curious how Rhuigi got his start in design. Can you even sew, bro? “Yes, and I make patterns,” he told me. “After high school, I was supposed to go to an art school to be a curator, and even considered the medical field as my family wanted me to. I felt like I was going to end up valley trash; a starving artist LOL. I used to draw, paint, and sculpt, but I didn’t find the passion in it as I did with visuals and design; I dropped out of college, then made what is now the legendary bandanna shirt for myself and everything organically grew. I made that piece a few years ago without any intention of selling,” he went on, “but with all the questions and demand I got for it, I figured I might as well use it as an intro piece to that capsule collection. I didn’t realize how relatable something I created out of struggle could be. At the time, I saw an opening in that LA modern cholo look, which by the way is now overused and destroyed by popular culture.”
I had to ask the burning question– hey, he brought it up!–about how he feels when he sees knockoffs of his firstborn tee? “I used to say it’s amazing to see people inspired by me, but what the fuck? I hate it. I may not be the pioneer, but I single-handedly put attention back onto bandannas, with an assymetrical twist. The only thing I ask for is R.E.S.P.E.C.T… and possibly a percentage haha.” #Fair #Enough.
Shop the full Rhude AW ’13 collection here, newly available for purchase online (you saw it here first). The price point doesn’t fuck around (from $130 for a basic tee to roughly $2000 for a goat-fur-embellished jacket) but then again, neither does Rhuigi.