When you walk into the Jugrnaut store on Dearborn Street in Chicago, you feel like you’re being discretely welcomed into an exclusive, downtown nightclub. The dark wood shelves, dimmed lighting, and classic hip hop music played in the boutique’s overhead speakers accentuate the array of color seen on the clothes and accessories displayed in the front room. It says one thing to the customer: street culture and style are the main attractions here.
A lot of that feel has to do with Brian Nevado, aka B. Easy, the creative director and co-owner of the Jugrnaut brand as well as one of Jugrnaut’s primary designers. His style is reflective of the brand he helped create: clean, colorful, and undoubtedly rooted in hip hop. I recently had a chance to sit down with Mr. Nevado and talk with him about his role as creative director, Filipinos in the industry, and the evolution of street fashion.
BakitWhy.com: Could you give some of our readers a little of your background?
B. Easy: I was born in Chicago, lived on the west side of Chicago until I was about eleven or twelve, moved to the suburbs, went to school in the city. Now me, my wife and kids are back in the suburbs. I’m the co-owner of Jugrnaut along with my partners Roger Rodriguez and Manny Rodriguez. We grew up together, went to school together at Addison Trail. There weren’t many Filipino cats in Addison, so I, you know, kind of gravitated toward my Mexican brothers and Mexican culture. They’re like my brothers so we just decided to open up in 2007.
BW: What kind of responsibilities do you have as creative director of Jugrnaut?
BE: When we started out, we knew we always wanted to have a house brand, but we didn’t think about launching a full-out line. In the beginning, I was doing the buying for Jugrnaut, but that role switched over to Roger so I could handle the creative direction and focus on the brand. I went to school at the American Academy of Art for illustration and design and graduated in ’01. So I wanna say I’ve been designing since high school. I was always super interested in the gear- in hip-hop, it was always called gear before it was called fashion. I did t-shirt designs here and there for companies or hip-hop groups.
As creative director for Jugrnaut I focused on designs for the brand. I did all the logos, a lot of the branding. I come up with a lot of the concepts, or Roger and Manny, and another designer, Matt, will come up with concepts and I’ll put it down.
BW: Are any of your designs on display right now?
BE: Yeah, pretty much all of them.
BW: What’s in store for Jugrnaut this year? Any big plans?
BE: Well, just keepin’ it moving, still focusing on the brand and trying to get it bigger. We did the TREATED hat with Mano, which was seen on Kanye, Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, Travie McCoy, a lot of people. We did a collab with Ben Baller. So, we’re gonna keep the collabs coming.
BW: Where do you see the fashion going?
BE: Right now, to me, currently there are two really big trending fashion types in street-wear. People kind of graduated from straight up street-wear, like the florescent colors, or the hot colors. A lot of people are going clean, like khakis, slacks, button-downs and vans or whatever. Whatever it is, it’s clean and then they’re rocking some ill sneakers with it.
The other trending look is the whole high-end street-wear, high fashion, mixed look. That’s everyone that’s rocking the Givenchy, Versace, the Raf Simons or Alexander Wang - those brands. So those are some of the looks that have graduated from street wear or can still be considered street wear. That’s just what’s hot and crackin’ right now.
BW: Any advice you want to give to young Filipinos trying to get into the industry?
BE: Well, the cool thing I noticed when I started in the industry was that some how, some way, a Filipino is involved with a certain brand, like Crooks [and Castles] and all them cats. A lot of them cats are Filipino. There’s a lot of Filipinos in the industry, which was cool, because when I jumped in, I didn’t really know what to expect and it was cool just seeing other Filipinos doing their thing.
My advice is to study the culture, study the craft. If you’re already into hip hop or skating or whatever, you’ll already notice the certain ways people dress.