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VIRA Exclusive
Welcome To The Future Of Designer Clothing

VIRA Exclusive is an up and coming designer clothing label that's taken the world by storm with their one of a kind cut & sew pieces. We spoke with the creative duo consisting of Melanie and Enrike (Enchanted Armour) about the upcoming Vira Summer '19 release and how they've been able to combine their individual creative talents to make some of the hottest cut & sew pieces of the year. In addition, we also spoke about their experience meeting Heron Preston, what their creative process looks like, and their plans to continue to grow and push their creative potential.

Where are you guys from?

Enrike: We’re both from San Bernardino, California. We grew up in Colton, it’s a small ass city to be honest. Where we grew up and went to school it was super "paisa" so we were one of the the only different ones in high school. We’ve been dating for 6 years so we've been with each other since high school.

How did you guys meet?

Enrike: We went to school together. I was in 9th grade and saw this girl and thought she was the baddest bitch. But she was in 10th grade and didn’t even notice me since I had long hair. After one year she finally ended up talking to me.

Melanie: We only talked since we had the same friend.

Did you guys start Vira Exclusive together?

Enrike: Yeah we just did it together. But I just consider it her brand, it comes from Viramontes which is Melanie’s last name.

Are Vira Exclusive and Enchanted Armour the same thing or are they seperate?

Enrike: Nah. I’m a designer and I design for her but I also make my own stuff. If I’m not tagging her or the brand in something it’s not for her. It's kind of like how Craig designs for Moncler and Unathletic designs with Absent but they also do their own thing.

What made you guys want to start designing garments and start a brand?

Melanie: It started when I was like five years old. Honestly I just watched a lot of Project Runway and thought that making clothes was super cool. I’d also shop a lot with my mom and just liked going to malls since I really liked looking at clothes.

Enrike: It’s weird because I wanted to start a brand but I didn’t know how. I wanted to start a brand with eyeballs in like 9th grade. Bones and Chris Travis always talked about wearing their own clothes which made me want to be like them. Melanie was in school and had a breakdown since she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. I had barely graduated high school so I decided to help her start her brand.

Melanie: I graduated in 2014 and started college that same year.

Enrike: So 2015 is when that happened. We just wanted to do something together. But it was hella different than what it is now. We were making clothes for skaters originally but it was hard to market. We wanted to make designer clothes but that was too expensive for skaters so we moved away from skateboarding and did more designer type stuff and branded it as that.

Talk about your upcoming Summer ‘19 collection. Where did you draw inspiration for this collection?

Enrike: Melanie designed the whole thing by herself.

Melanie: Honestly, I don't know what really inspired me. The first pieces were the bikini set and the camo denim pants and after that I did the love charm bracelet. So I’d say gems, diamonds and pendants were kind of the inspiration. From there I just stuck with a blue color scheme and based everything else around pendants.

What made you want to add the “Vira” chain as a part of the bikini?

Melanie: I think body chains are super cool so I wanted to be able to incorporate that as part of the piece instead of needing to wear it as an accessary.

What’s your favorite piece on the collection?

Melanie: I like the bikini a lot and the sweatpants, they’re hard.

How many collections have you released so far?

Melanie: Vivid, Frostbite, Angelic, Metamorphosis and this one, so five.

What was the inspiration behind the initial pieces you guys released on the “Frostbite” collection?

Enrike: It was snow. That whole thing was supposed to be an Xavier Wulf collab but it never ended up happening. It went viral on Twitter though so we just thought we’d do it ourselves.

Do you think everyone’s gonna be wearing clothing like that in the future?

Enrike: I feel like everything we make is for the future. Everything we’re making now is gonna be worth so much more in the future kind of like how Number (N)ine and Dolce from 2002 are being resold now. People don’t appreciate it as much as they should right now. We don’t have any influencers wearing our stuff for a reason but once we really start establishing ourselves all this is gonna have so much more value.

Would you consider your clothing to be a designer brand?

Enrike: That's exactly how I see it. I don’t like the word high fashion though. We like using the word haute couture or avant-garde.

Has your design style changed since you released your first collection?

Melanie: I feel like Frostbite led us to develop our style better. It started out with Vivid but Frostbite was what started to do well and really kicked off our style. From there everything we do has to be as good or better than that collection.

Where did you come up with the idea for the red puffer sweater that was on the “Angelic” collection?

Enrike: I was inspired by the headpieces from Takahiromiyashita the soloist for that piece and Frostbite. He didn’t make cover jackets though so I thought it would be cool to make a headpiece with that.

Melanie: I used the paracord from that piece for the Vivid collection and Enrike brought it into that design since he thought it would make it look better.

Were most of the pieces from those collections cut and sew?

Enrike: Yeah basically all of it.

How long did that piece take to make?

Enrike: That took forever. When someone ordered it I had to sell the sample piece. It took like four days to make. The one from Frostbite took two days and the headpiece took one day to make. Melanie ended up sewing it all.

Melanie: They were actually easy to make but each one took like 6 to 8 hours. I was able to knock out like two in a day.

How long have you guys been doing cut and sew?

Melanie: I taught myself from Youtube and then taught him.

Enrike: I started sewing in 12th grade since I had a sewing class and now it’s pretty much our lives.

Melanie: We didn’t really make clothes in that class so technically we didn’t really start sewing clothes until two years ago.

I know you guys do a lot of cut & sew mockups via photoshop that look incredibly realistic. How do you go about doing that?

Enrike: Melanie and Blazzy taught me everything. Blazzy taught me the whole "find it on Grailed" technique. The best mockup people are Unathletic and Blazzy. A lot of people just look up a T-shirt on google from some wholesaler and throw a graphic on it which makes it look fake. But the way Blazzy taught me is to find a piece on Grailed that someone already took a picture of. You take that picture and put the tone stamp on to cover the graphic and then put your own graphic on it. You then level the graphic so it looks like it was printed and super realistic. That’s for making a T-shirt, but my girlfriend really taught me the whole cut and sew look. So I took Blazzy’s concept and used it for the cut and sew stuff.

What was the inspiration for the purple cut and sew shirt you just previewed?

Enrike: One of the people who inspired me was Imran Potato. I thought it was crazy that he can get away with using the Gucci monogram which isn’t considered stealing since he’s using it in his own way. So I decided to use the cover art from the death metal band Morbid Angel from the 80’s and 90’s and put it on a T-shirt.

Do you know when that’s dropping?

Enrike: I don’t know yet. I’m trying to do it after Melanie's drop. I’m gonna drop it with the winged hoodie, scarface pants, and I'm trying to make a $20 shirt as well.

Talk about your creative process when you guys work together on a piece. What does it look like?

Enrike: Smoking weed and looking at inspiration boards.

Melanie: Yeah, we put together mood boards sometimes of different stuff we like. With Frostbite we picked out what we agreed on and things we both liked.

Enrike: She learned that whole mood board concept from school. I didn’t think that was necessary but random ass pictures really do inspire you to make stuff. Heron Preston wanted us to send him 100 pictures for a whole week straight from our mood boards, he taught us a lot of that stuff too. The fact that he even recognizes us makes me have goosebumps since he’s one of the coolest designers and a real OG.

How did you guys originally meet Heron Preston?

Enrike: I was walking on Melrose with these pants on and he had his girlfriend come up to me with another girl. They asked me what they were and I said that I made them. She left and found me again and asked what my brand page was so I gave her Melanie's brand page. I just thought it was random but the next day I had this dream that he DM’d us, and right after that Melanie told me that Heron Preston had just hit us up. I literally thought I was still dreaming. He said that he wanted to link up with us that same day so we did and he took us to SOHO House.

Melanie: It’s kind of like a private club house that you need a recommendation to join. Famous businesses and people go there to work on stuff.

Enrike: We saw P. Diddy there too. Everyone was staring at us since we were the youngest people there. Everyone was either really white or Italian so me, Melanie, Heron, and P. Diddy were the only ones who stood out. That whole experience gave us a ton of motivation.

Do your creative processes differ?

Enrike: I don’t know, I think we both kind of think in the same way and have the same type of intuition on stuff. We’re kind of inspired by the same designers and we both like certain people so in a way we're kind of the same.

Does Melanie design the women's clothes or do you help too?

Enrike: It really depends.

Melanie: He’s made girl stuff before but recently it’s been me. If Enrike’s gonna make a girl piece I have to help him.

Enrike: We just give each other opinions.

Does your design approach change when you’re working on women's clothes or a swimsuit?

Melanie: Yeah I think so because a lot of girls clothes look really basic to me. Girls clothes are easily made and super generic in Forever 21 or Fashion Nova which can be easily replicated. So when I do girls clothes I try to make them really different.

You guys have made some crazy accessories too. What made you want to make the Velvet Bear and Rhinestone Dragon side bag?

Enrike: The dragon was just a promotional piece since I knew it'd blow up on Twitter. We never released it since the picture looked good but in reality the zipper was kinda weird and I didn’t heat press the rhinestones so it wasn’t as good as it could have been. The bear is supposed to come out with the book that I haven't finished yet. I’m gonna drop it at the same time as the T-shirt and wings. The theme I’m going for in that release is having everything be purple kind of in the same way that Heron uses orange.

What’s the book you’re releasing?

Enrike: I don’t want to say it’s an autobiography, but it’s kind of about what made me as a person. A lot of the stuff I’m saying is probably gonna change people’s mentalities in that they’ll either appreciate everything I do way more or look at me weird. I’m calling it “Youth Suicide Fantasy”. I don’t wanna make it too long though since I want to market it to an audience that might not read a ton. I have like 10 pages done right now but I haven’t gotten inspiration to write it recently since I either need to be depressed or really excited to give it the energy it deserves. I’m gonna make it about 50 pages to keep people’s attention, and I want to make it free so more people can access it.

What’s your favorite collection you’ve dropped so far?

Melanie: Frostbite, because it was really what made us find ourselves.

Enrike: I like how everything I’ve made from the very beginning to the very end is an evolution. Every little detail or thing I do correlates with Enchanted Armor the aesthetic, from my username to my header. Even the name itself makes you think. That’s how I see all my pieces, they’re who I am. It’s kind of like how FTP has FTP all over their stuff. For me it’s the same thing but having the brand name since people will buy Vira if I designed it, people will buy my designs that I make for Activity or whatever just because it’s me. It’s crazy.

Are there any other garments, mediums or accessories you guys want to experiment with in the future?

Melanie: I’m making a necklace and a bracelet that I’ll be releasing sometime soon.

Enrike: I'm thinking about how to make a chair. I don’t wanna give details because if people see what I’m talking about they’re gonna try to steal it.

What other designers or brands do you guys like?

Enrike: Honestly I like my friend's brands. I respect everyone so I can’t give you a straight answer, but definitely Half Evil, Activity, Absent, Menace, and Hypland because they’re all cool ass people. Real brothers of the internet. That goes the same for Melanie too. They help us a lot with all kinds of stuff whether it’s marketing or just giving us motivation. It goes deeper than that because when I say Half Evil I mean Sam, when I say Absent I mean August, Unathletic, and Parker, when I say Activity I mean Blazzy, Tommy and Juice, when I say Menace I mean Steven, when I say Hypland I mean Gordon, all those people are super genuine.

How did the internet meetup you did with those guys happen?

Enrike: That whole thing was a Menace shoot. It was cool because Menace invited everyone individually and then we all met up for the first time. Melanie wasn’t even there though and neither were August and Unathletic so it was really just people who were free at the moment. We all started talking originally in a group chat that I started where I invited a bunch of people. Heron Preston was in it and I invited Parker and Blazzy and told them to add people. Parker invited Sam and Sam invited Menace, so everyone just started inviting friends. Everyone was genuine and we just started building a connection with each other through the group chat. That’s how we all knew each other before. When we met up I said we should take a picture on some Raider Klan shit. We took a picture and made it happen. But there’s a lot of other people in this community that I want to meet as well.

Are there any other brands or designers you want to work with in the future?

Enrike: I don’t know. I’ll design for my friends for free but the way I see actual collabs is just people wanting to work with a certain name to get on a higher rung. For me, I want to do a collab and work with someone because they’re my friend rather than it being like a feature. I want to be on the same level as them not just doing it for clout.

Melanie: There’s no one in particular that I really want to collab with, just friends.

Enrike: If we were to choose one I think it’d be hard if we worked with Heron Preston.

What should we expect to see next from you guys?

Enrike: I can’t really say you should expect anything. Just have lots of patience but also have high expectations. I make random ass shit out of my heart so there’s nothing really specific to expect.

Melanie: I don't really want to say what to expect because I just want to show it, so just keep watching.

Enrike: With social media these days everyone wants to see the designs before they drop and how the designs work and everyday life type stuff.

Melanie: Now we're gonna start showing more stuff behind the scenes sooon. With the camo pants I did a whole Youtube video on how I made them. I want to start doing more Youtube videos on how we make our clothes so people can see how I work. Everyone says they want to do it but nobody does. I think I’m gonna drop that video on the day the collection releases and then continue doing other videos in the future.

What do you want Vira and Enchanted Armor to become?

Melanie: I want my brand to be like a Chanel or a Gucic type of brand where it’ll last a long time and be all high quality stuff. I really just want to make my stuff exclusive. I also really want to do pop-up shops around the world instead of having an actual store.

Enrike: I see the question differently for me. I feel like Enchanted Armor isn’t a brand, it’s a designer. But I don’t like considering myself a brand or designer. With me I just wanna do whatever makes me happy. If I start making chairs and love it, I’m gonna keep doing it. I just wanna go with the flow and have the ability to do whatever I want because I’m financially and creatively free.

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