Carlos Juarez is a man making moves. He’s the brain behind the upcoming fashion powerhouse Vintage Artisan, philanthropist-in-training and overall cool guy. We got to sit down with Carlos a few days ago over Skype to pick his brain on his brand, his philosophy in life and what to do with lottery money.
The Birth Story:
Like most good ideas Vintage Artisan begins with a friend. Carlos had finished launching a separate brand called P.A.C.E with a partner and yearned to create a fuller men’s wardrobe. With a head full of fashion know-how and passion to burn, Carlos and his friend got brainstorming. Carlos was deep into high fashion (Vintage) while his friend was all about the handmade side of clothes (Artisan), both ideas collided in a shower of sparks and sewing needles and Vintage Artisan was born. Carlos created a brand that values craftsmanship above aesthetic appeal. When things are made right beauty follows. Here’s how he describes VA himself: “Vintage Artisan is a contemporary menswear brand focused on limited production to maintain high quality. We believe in true craftsmanship which allows us to produce a staple product for every man’s closet.”
Who is Carlos Juarez?
A young adult living in San Francisco, Carlos is a man pursuing a dream. We got to ask him these questions: – What do you do now besides Vintage Artisan to make a living? How does that and VA influence each other? “I drive for Uber [coincidentally a company we cover a lot – get the low-down on Uber and sale and coupon codes galore] which allows for a great deal of flexibility. I’m able to meet interesting people and can market my brand to the customers who get in my car, it’s great advertising.” – What are the joys of making your own line? The struggles? “One of the chief joys is watching a product come to life and working with the people who make my products. The struggles come when I have to wait for the products to be finished after sending them to tailors, Mexico, etc. Progress can be slow and that’s a gift and a curse.” Carlos told me how he get extra stressed during “on months” and then is slammed with free time while products are created. Since Carlos only makes small batches of his products to give individual attention and healthy doses of love to each piece the “off months” force him to be patient and wait to see his efforts realized. The end products though are a rich reward but we’ll get to them later. In the midst of waiting Carlos told me he likes to focus inward and work on personal development. In one of these down months that the Huaraches, CJ’s strongest piece, were born. Vintage Artisan – Huaraches 8A, $165 – You just won the lottery and have a cool hundred-million dollars in your pocket but none of it can be used on Vintage Artisan, what do you do? “First purchase would definitely be a white Lamborghini Aventador and I haven’t really told anyone this but I would love to start an airline company. I think traveling should be more accessible to people. The world is meant to be experienced and I want to help people do that. I have some other secret ideas too but I can’t let ’em out of the bag yet, don’t want anybody to jack ’em. Also I would open a sweet Ferris wheel in San Francisco and make it sustainable. On the scale of the big one in London, the “San Fran Eye,”…admission money would go toward homeless people. Helping the homeless is one of my passions and with the rest of the money I would start a marathon for homelessness awareness in San Fran. There aren’t many events here or in our country that draw attention to the plight of the homeless. I want to do that.”
– How is Vintage Artisan structured? Is it a one man gig or are more people involved in running the company? “Right now I’m flying solo-dolo but looking to expand eventually. Working alone is cool though because it gives me insight into every area of the business, I get to step into a ton of different shoes, that way when I do expand I’ll know how to hire the right people for the right jobs.” – One of your taglines is “All American, European Fit, Japanese Edge.” I love that idea, how did it come about? “I made the tag line two months before my website got going. On the whole, U.S. clothing lacks the tailored European fit that looks great on men for an inexpensive price. You can find it here but not without spending an arm and a leg, and the Japanese edge comes from colors and fabrics I use. Over there they’re always doing crazy stuff with prints and fabrics so I follow suit in a way American men will love.” Check out the Vintage Artisan Summer Lookbook here. – You just won the lottery and have a cool hundred-million dollars in your pocket but it can only be used on Vintage Artisan, what do you do? “I want to give other designers a solid platform to launch from, make a school/co-op for designers, and invest in others. My biggest thing is to be a service to other people, I want to start a Tom’s-esque foundation and make it really transparent so people can see their impact.” If I learned anything from Carlos it is that his heart is focused almost entirely outward. His goals are two-fold: to own a successful company and pass the success forward.
“The Next Top-Sider” – Huaraches Huaraches are minimalist footwear that originate from Mexico, around 2008 Carlos decided to give them new life for modern men to enjoy the minimalism and turn heads on the street. It worked, each pair of Vintage Artisan Huaraches are created by a “Master Huarachero” or Master Shoe-Maker in Mexico. The artist cuts and weaves the leather, makes the soles, puts it all together, everything – it definitely shows. VA’s Huaraches are comfortable, fashionable and filled with handmade beauty. Carlos’ vision for the Huaraches is that they would be the next “Top-Sider.” We can see why; they look great with casual outfits, and a little “pop” to suits, work with boardshort, etc. Just like Sperry’s the possibilities are endless, if you order nothing else from Carlos it should be his shoes. The Huaraches will remain a mainstay of your closet for years to come. Keep an eye out for new colors on the horizon too! Red, yellow, green, olive, blue and navy are just around the corner. Vintage Artisan – Huaraches 8A, $165 The Box: A bit of a paradox, “The Box” should be your next backpack. Surprisingly comfortable, water-resistant and spacious, The Box is incredibly versatile. You can put anything inside it from laptops to wine bottles (Throw some dry-ice in the bottom and you have a portable cooler!), notebooks to plates and glasses without fear of anything breaking or falling out. The Box is so many things at once it’s even been mistaken for a musical instrument. Carlos told me how one day he was in the grocery store with it on and a man stopped him saying, “Hey, this thing looks like a cajón!” Learn more about what a cajón is here. Just like everything at Vintage Artisan The Box is meticulously handmade and a product worthy of your ownership. Vintage Artisan – The Box, $299 -Prints: While Carlos doesn’t make many, his prints they are certainly a sight to behold. A bit symbolic, Carlos chose the characters and comic strips he did as a metaphor for Vintage Artisan. In the same way The Avengers, Popeye, and Star Trek remain relevant through the years, so does Carlos and he doesn’t plan to go anywhere. A limited collection of Marvel print swill be released soon and after that it’s is unlikely more will be sold. Get ’em while they’re hot! Vintage Artisan – Shop
– Anything else you want to tell readers? “I want to be a conduit for help and make people happy. The Huaraches are sold out now but the newest batch is coming next month, you can pre-order them through the website. Also I’m going to the Florence Fashion Week and collaborating with Tom Lipop from London! Be sure to check him out.” – What words of wisdom can you offer Life, Tailored readers? “This is for any upcoming artist, not just fashion designers…The best advice I got as I started out was to change my mentality from ‘When you become rich you become successful, to when you are successful you become rich.’ Patience is key and producing anything will take time; be it clothes, music, food, whatever. Success is in the journey, not the destination. Also don’t let finances stop you from what you want to do in life. You shouldn’t stop trying because you think money or funding will get in the way.” Awesome man, thanks! Any final words? “No sir, I think we’re golden. I think we’re good.”
What To Do Next
Be sure to follow Carlos and Vintage Artisan… – On Twitter @ByCarlosRJuarez – On Instagram @Vintage_Artisan and @GentlemensWear and check out his collaboration with Faud Hasanovic on NinetyTwoClothing.com. Go order some Vintage Artisan products! You’ll be able to say you were there when it all began.