AN INTERVIEW BY ALYSSA ALMAZAN
Alyssa Almazan is a freelance writer, photographer, and digital creative. We had asked her to model our first collection and couldn't have been more happy with how our first shoot turned out. She was very professional, and brought so much joy, spunk, and confidence to the shoot. Back in December, she had asked to interview us, and when we received the questions, we were enamored by the depth and thought of each question. It was a month after our launch and these questions really gave us a chance to reflect on our work, progress, and future endeavors.
The Young Women Behind STREET GRANDMA By Alyssa Almazan
With the recent launch of their debut collection, the duo behind STREET GRANDMA gives us insight behind their brand, what inspires them to create, and how they will continue to thrive in the future.
I first met ½ of STREET GRANDMA earlier this year on Instagram. Andrea slid into my DM’s in hopes to “pick my brain” about my personal style and inspiration. My initial thoughts were a mix of, “Who tf is this?” and “This is really flattering.” After a couple hours of back and forth conversation about clothes and women’s streetwear, she explains how she is considering starting up her own brand. I thought it was cool, and for some reason I fully believed in her after our brief exchange.
Fast forward to months later, I see Andrea repost an account on her story. “STREET GRANDMA.” It was something that looked like a moodboard, but also had product shots of hoodies and sweats that said “STREET GRANDMA.” I was super hyped to see it. I replied to the story with a congrats and full support, letting her know that if they ever needed anything, I’d be happy to help. To my surprise, I was asked to model for their first drop. It’s a day that I cherish for multiple reasons.
To put it frankly, I was shocked at how professional everything was. Not because I wasn't aware of their potential, but because of how thought out and meticulously planned it all seemed. I instantly knew they were a brand of intention, intelligence, and hard work. I was introduced to Devin, the other ½ of STREET GRANDMA, and I felt how unique their dynamic was. The talent of everyone involved felt too good to be true. Before, during, and after the shoot I had a running thought on loop, “This is special.”
It was a full circle moment. To the random girl who DM’d me wanting to talk clothes, to how I was photographed in the clothes she and Devin made, to how I’m currently interviewing them…..Could this circle get any more full?
Let's start with the name. Why "STREET GRANDMA"?
[D] The name started when I was trying to summarize my style into a few key words with a group of my close friends. I was interested in two different genres of fashion at the time - streetwear brands like Aime Leon Dore and more minimalistic brands like Rachel Comey. I didn’t fully identify in either category, and wanted to bridge the two - “Street,” obviously coming from streetwear, but “grandma” coming from minimalism and a distinct commitment to what is comfortable. I liked that older people’s priority in fashion always seems to be comfort, which gives them an effortless, “I Didn’t Try” quality to it, and I loved that. I wanted to be both, so I came up with the name Street Grandma.
[A] Part of the draw for me choosing this as our brand name was it also seemed to work on a different level that was important to us. We were committed from the beginning to being a sustainable and ethical company, and we loved the idea that if our clothes are high quality and timeless with artful designs, then they would be something unique customers would want to keep until they are old.
Were you ever worried that the name would only attract a female audience?
[A] We debated a lot about how we wanted to brand STREET GRANDMA in the beginning, who we wanted to appeal to, who we thought would end up wearing it. When we were narrowing down our list of names, we tried to pick a more genderless one because of this issue. I was thinking, no dude is ever going to want to wear something that says “grandma” on it. But then, I thought about all the times I deliberately shopped in men’s sections. Contemporary streetwear is more often than not, designed for men and by men. The coolest stuff is always made for men first, and then they do some spin on it for the women’s section which often means adding pink or purple to the design, making it slimmer, or cropping it. Because of this, a lot of women shopped in the men’s section, but rarely do you see it the other way around. STREET GRANDMA’s pieces are the antithesis of this, they are oversized, unisex, with neutral colors but our photographs and content are geared towards women. We are focused on making things with women in mind, but we want men to wear it because they genuinely think the designs are cool and aren’t going to think twice about the name.
What is “streetwear” to you?
[D] Streetwear to me is fashion that looks powerful, functional and has an effortless quality. When I moved to Brooklyn after growing up in LA, my eyes were opened to a whole new level of fashion and artistic expression. The women I saw working in stores like KITH looked strong and effortless, and still somehow inherently feminine. It gave them an edge while still being incredibly sexy.
[A] To me, streetwear is about the average person, often without a ton of resources, connections, or financial backing, making clothes for a specific counter culture community. When I think of streetwear, I think of Stussy, The Hundreds, Staple Pigeon, Supreme, and Obey before they were in Zumiez. It’s changed a lot, sometimes in cool ways, but sometimes in really corny ways as well. Contemporary streetwear is now merging with high-fashion, it’s a lot less about a specific culture and more about exclusivity and resale value. Often it’s just about being better than someone. Earlier this year when I was figuring out how to get our clothes printed, my friend suggested I meet with a guy in Long Beach that could do direct-to-garment (DTG). When I showed up, it was 6 dudes in wife beaters, in a hot ass garage, working a DTG and screen printing machine, with stacks of t-shirts behind them. To me, it was a reminder of the grunt work, community, and friendship that streetwear really is.
Explain your love for Call Me By Your Name and why it was so immense for you to launch your first collection based on the book.
[D] I love this question. My introduction came from seeing the film in 2017. At the time I was living in New York, auditioning and doing my best to pursue acting. I remember going back to the theatre to watch it 3 times, one of them on my birthday. I was in the middle of reworking everything I planned for my future as I was failing at one of my lifelong dreams. One of the only things that made me want to get out of bed in the morning at the time was dressing up, and when I saw Call Me By Your Name I remember feeling a distinct moment of peace. That’s why I kept going back - I couldn’t find it much of anywhere else at the time. Obviously the story and connection between the father and son or new friends and lovers is what makes it so powerful, but visually it was so stunning I think it helped calm and ease my spirit. I was reminded of how artful and beautiful life is outside of my brokenhearted bubble. It was a film I wouldn’t stop talking about for years. When we started talking about building our first collection I wanted it to feel connected to something we authentically cared about, not something we thought would be a “good fit” after the fact. When I reflected on books/movies that meant a lot to me, Call Me By Your Name was the standout. I wanted other people that were powerfully impacted to get little pieces of it too. If you didn’t watch it, images from it are so visually stunning you win either way.
Anything you can tell us about your next collection?
[A] We will continue to be inspired by movies, books, and things outside of fashion. We haven’t gotten started on our next collection yet, but we will be coming out with a few pieces in between. Those will be a play on our name - that’s all I can say. Stay tuned!
I feel like everything that STREET GRANDMA does is very intentional, from what and when to post, to the color-coded aesthetic IG. Why do you think that’s important?
[D] I’m so honored by this!!! To be fair, posting at specific times of the day and color-coding your IG is just to get more eyes on our posts and so that when we scroll through it feels thoughtful and aesthetically pleasing. But beyond just posting on IG, I think art without intentionality is empty - it feels like social climbing. I ask myself often ‘are you doing this because it means something to you or because you want people to view you in a certain light?’ After being motivated for so long by what I thought would make people view me as more valuable, I am now motivated by what I like and what makes me happy. Color-coded IG posts make me happy. :)
Everything so far has been made with organic cotton and made in a windmill powered fair trade facility in Pakistan. What made you decide to go this route?
[A] I just finished my master’s in environmental science where I studied the impacts of the fashion industry. Fashion is the second largest producer of wastewater and can be an extremely exploitative industry. This is really hard to reckon with when you love fashion and see the cultural and artistic value of it. But I accepted this as a challenge. I have all this background knowledge and all these skills, how can I put them into practice? When Devin and I started brainstorming, we each made a list about our values and what we wanted in whatever we created - essentially these were the things that were non-negotiable to us. Finding and choosing the lower impact option was non-negotiable to me. If we couldn’t find it, it just meant we weren’t looking hard enough. And i’m really glad that we did this because in the end, we created a better look, higher quality product that will last longer.
What has been the most fulfilling part for you two so far?
[A] I feel like I gained 9 million skills. As someone who has a lot of ideas and day dreams constantly, it’s really easy to think about all the things you want to do. However, forcing yourself to actually do them is a whole other thing. When you make something from beginning to end, it makes you appreciate what others do, to do what they do. Now when I see stuff at a store, I think about what it took for them to create this finished piece. Before STREET GRANDMA, I never thought twice.
[D] I can also confirm Andrea gained (or built upon) 9 million skills. Since I’ve been working full-time from the time we started, she has had to do most of the leg work, problem solving and building something from the ground up. It’s been fulfilling in so many ways - one of them being able to share something I care about with someone I’ve loved and been such close friends with since I was 11. Additionally, I think other people identifying with the specific style our brand caters to feels incredibly rewarding. I can’t wait to build our brand out to see the lengths of what “STREET GRANDMA” style really means. We’ve only just started!
Do you find any difficulties running a business with your best friend?
[D] There are lots of challenging conversations to be had, but I think if you have open and honest communication you can get through the many difficulties you will inevitably face. It’s certainly been our saving grace thus far - we are both willing to have difficult conversations and give each other time to process.
[A] There are your typical disagreements but nothing I would classify as an argument or difficulty. In fact, there are so many moments where I think, “Thank god I am not doing this alone”. We’ve had a number of setbacks but we decided from the beginning that we would be friends first and business partners second. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but like Devin said, we’ve built a foundation before we even started this.
What are some of your favorite pieces in your personal closet?
[A] I’ve made a point to buy a lot less this year because we made a whole collection based on things that we like, but 2 pieces stand out. I just bought this quilted jacket from FDMTL Denim from Proper LBC. It’s oversized, has a traditional Japanese Haori shape and the quality is outstanding. The other piece is an oversized leather blazer I thrifted from Goodwill for $12. I re-conditioned the leather and it looks brand new again. It’s my find of the year!
[D] I agree with Andrea, I’ve gone out of my way to stop buying this year and channel more of the energy I get from pieces I love into what I want to make next. I do love my vintage linen oversized men’s blazer and the texture it adds to my sweat suits and sneakers. I also ordered the cable knit sweater vest from Frankie Shop and even though I’m late to the game on the sweater vest, I’m fuckin stoked for the layer it will add to outfits I wear regularly.
What does the future look like for STREET GRANDMA?
[D] We hope to build a brand that gives a name to a specific kind of style, empowers women and makes them feel comfortable and confident, and spread joy in a space that is so often run by mystery and pessimism. We want people to feel cool, confident and joyful, instead of building a brand off of making yourself look better than others. There is enough of that out there. And it will eventually get replaced by other, cooler brands. We hope to watch more films and read more books and let that bleed into further collections, have fun, talk about fashion and meet other confident, joyful women along the way.
[A] I am confident that STREET GRANDMA will grow because I am confident in our ideas and our will to spread joy the way Devin describes. I envision that it will be more than just clothes. It will be about the things that inspired us, what we've learned during this process, interviews with people we admire, and a platform to discuss the issues we care about. We want to showcase women for the multifaceted individuals we are and always have been.