July 27, 2007

Are you a naco?

A Tijuana native has become famous thanks to his NaCo clothes

By Pablo Jaime Sáinz

In the past, a naco was the person that always shined because of his poor taste for everything: His way of talking, his way of walking, but above all, his way of dressing.

He was the guy with the Mexican grupero Bukis hair, with his long hair and golden highlights. Imagine the Tigres del Norte bassist with his great pomp hair.

She was the gal who, with a gum in her mouth, would wear skirts with tiger patterns, neon-colored blouses, just like Nacaranda, the character played by Mexican comedian Consuelo Duval in “La hora pico” show.

That was in the past.

Today, thanks to a couple of Mexican norteños, one of them from Tijuana, being naco is beautiful. It’s being cool. It’s being hip.

That’s because of Mexican clothing brand NaCo, founded in 1998 by Tijuana’s Edoardo Chavarin and Mazatlan’s Robby Vient.

If before NaCo being a naco used to be seen as something negative, now being naco is the lifestyle desired by many young Mexicans –and many young Mexican-Americans as well, since the popularity of the clothing line has crossed the border and has become really popular among raza in the U.S. So much, that some Macy’s stores in the south are selling NaCo women’s apparel.

In San Diego you can buy NaCo at The Shops at Las Americas, in San Ysidro. There’s a stand with a variety of NaCo products. Also, in Tijuana there’s an official NaCo store at the Macro-plaza, next to Parque Morelos.

The base of the NaCo brand are the t-shirts with slogans and images taken from Mexican popular culture, elements that highlight the flaws, and, at the same time, the pride, of so-called nacos.

“Humor is essential in NaCo clothes,” said Chavarin in an interview from Los Angeles, where he lives. “It’s about laughing about yourself. It’s a little bit about learning who you are.”

Thus, among the classic slogans are “Se habla español,” “Y ahora, ¿quién podrá de-fendernos?,” “I Love TJ,” “Estar Guars,” and “Frijolero”.

There are also images of 70’s cumbiaking Rigo Tovar; of Cepillin, a blending of Cepillin clown with Che Gue-vara; of the Mexican tradition of drinking Coke from a plastic bag with a straw.

“We began to highlight our grammatical errors, our Mexican accent when speaking English,” said Chavarin, who’s Chief Creative Officer of NaCo. “We wanted to turn something that used to embarrass us, such as the accent, into something that would give us pride. That’s the way we are. That’s the way we talk. And we’re not less than others because of that.”

In less than 10 years, the brand has become a youth classic on both sides of the border. So much, that artists as famous as Colombian singer Juanes and Mexican bands Molotov and Café Tacvba use the t-shirts and accessories in their videos and concerts.

Actors such as Diego Luna, from “Y tu mamá también,” are so into NaCo, that he’s already a partner of the brand.

NaCo has more than 200 designs, from the t-shirt to women’s wallets to shoes with the phrase “I Love DF.”

Although NaCo has enjoyed a lot of success in the last few years, Chavarin said that the brand was born as a simple hobby by him and Vient, while they were graphic design students in Los Angeles.

“We never dreamt too little nor too big for this,” said 31-year-old Chavarin.

In its beginnings in Tijuana, NaCo was the non-official clotheline for the Nortec Collective, musicians and DJs that blend contemporary sounds with banda sinaloense and norteño.

Nortec and NaCo used to organize parties in Tijuana where the music and the NaCo slogans complemented each other.

“The elements that had to do with norteño culture on t-shirts, that’s what we used to wear,” said Pepe Mogt, a musician member of the Nortec Collective. “They had messages we could relate to.”

Among the future plans for NaCo are the Spring 2008 collection with border themes and to continue reaching new markets in the U.S.

To learn more about NaCo clothe brand, visit www.usanaco.com

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