There is a small clothing outfit that has been making waves in Long Beach. Pun intended. Celebrating its two year anniversary the outfit is made up of Jose Cordon on the retail side, and Jose Mercado on the design side. Check out what they had to say about their two year anniversary and three clothing lines.
FT (Frankie Tease): You guys met up where?
D1 (Dire One): Jose was working at a retail store here in the neighborhood and I walked in there, I was looking for a hat. We met there and after that, actually no the day I walked in there I had just printed my first t-shirt. I was wearing it that weekend. My existing line now: Long Beach Home Grown. I was going in there and I was looking for a hat. I was headed somewhere, I don’t remember where, and I was looking for a hat. I was wearing my shirt for the first time. That sparked up a conversation and after that I’d walk in the store and continue the conversation.
(Jose Cordon): I ended up buying a shirt from him because actually I was looking for a Long Beach shirt, and I really liked the one he was wearing.
FT: What set it apart?
JC: By far it was just a really clean design. It was really clean, and something that I had not seen before.
FT: Okay, he’s the designer. Ok, what is your role?
JC: I’m the mouth. I’m the mouth piece.
D1: He holds the store down. He runs the store. He handles the relationships that the store has with the community, and with other stores in the neighborhood. He’s really the person that links up the store with a lot of our neighborhood.
D1: Well Long Beach Home Grown was first. And when we opened the store, we decided to have the store to have its own name, it’s own entity. We still wanted it to tie back into Long Beach so we came up with the name 1897LB. That’s the year the Long Beach was incorporated. We decided to let the store have its own identity. After that I created a design that said LB Life. I decided that LB Life could pretty much stand on its own. LB Life was branched off of LB Home Grown. It’s been in transition. This year is really the year that it’s becoming and going to mold into its own look.
FT: There’s other Long Beach clothing. What sets you apart? It caught my attention. You don’t just say Long Beach. What sets it apart? What are you going for?
D1: I have the line be designed from a standpoint of… I have 14 years now of designing professionally in apparel. So, I pretty much treat this line, which is locally based, like I would be designing any other international line. In other words, I design it with the standards of any other big line that you would find in any other major retailer.
FT: What other retailers have you designed for?
D1: Just about every major retailer… from Target to Pacific Sunwear to Walmart, I’ve designed for all of them. Probably within that about 3,000 independent stores. I’ve designed for two big companies and those companies have distributed to just about everyone in U.S. and internationally.
FT: So this freedom to do what you want must be fun.
D1: I’m using all the skills that I acquired and using that locally. Usually it goes the other way around. Somebody starts local and is looking to work for the other guys. I worked for the big guys first and came back and now I’m using all that. That’s why when you look at the line, it’s pretty much ready to do into a major retailer at any moment. It’s not going to go in those stores because it’s a local line, but I’m saying, it’s got the standards of that.
-We try to have death in it too. Growing up in Long Beach all my life I come from like a graffiti background. All my friends were all different. We had one guy that was into reggae, one guy into rock, one guy into rap, and then we all didn’t really like the same music, you know there was like – the thing that brought us together was graffiti, but we all were like different. That’s how I was raised. So, the line itself – I might be feeling like a little bit of graffiti one time – so it kind of comes out in the line. I myself want the line to be for the people of Long Beach, not for just one demographic.
FT: When you started talking and when you first met Jose, what was it you found in common that would make you run a business together?
Read the WHOLE LB LIFE INTERVIEW