Making The Impossible A Reality
is a clothing brand based out of Puerto Rico that's bridging the gap between technology and fashion. We spoke with the founder Diego about how his childhood influences and passion for art eventually led him to start a clothing brand that's now being recognized across the US while also paving the way for other upcoming Latin American brands. In addition, we also spoke with Diego about his highly anticipated new release, the growth of streetwear in Latin America, and his plans to expand Vital Studios into a fusion of technology and fashion that continues to inspire and empower the next generation of creatives around the world.
Where are you from?
Diego: I’m from Puerto Rico, born and raised. I love this place even though it’s really hot. People are generally really nice and humble, nobody really gives a shit so it’s great.
Did Puerto Rico just get hit with an earthquake?
Diego: Yeah, I was at school on the second level and felt the shaking. It’s weird because I’m already used to them since they happen frequently but they had to evacuate us from school into the parking lot.
How’s the creative scene in Puerto Rico?
Diego: Fashion wasn't really a thing here but now it’s starting to grow for sure. Music artists are into it so it’s been booming for the past two years but it’s still very recent.
When did you start Vital Studios?
Diego: I started working on the brand fully and really invested in it on August 20th last year. I started designing when I was 11 so I’ve been designing for six years and I’ve been designing clothing for other people for two years until I decided to do my own thing.
How did you come up with the name?
Diego: Vital to me is something that’s important and close to your life. Vital really means something that’s absolutely necessary for your life, and to me designing, making art and things people can enjoy is really important to me. I really like to share my art and be creative so that’s something that’s vital to me. The “Studios” part is because I started doing everything from the comfort of my home, or my studio you could say. So Vital Studios just means something that’s absolutely necessary. Even though it’s not simple it’s a snappy name that inspires more than just a clothing brand. That’s what I like about it.
What made you want to start a clothing brand?
Diego: One day I was making a hoodie for some resellers and I got super inspired and made this incredible hoodie that I thought was amazing. The resellers thought it was cool but they didn’t do anything with it. I loved it and wanted others to love it as well so I started designing other hoodies and shirts and expressing my creativity through clothing. What you wear is an extension of who you are and to me I love making things to wear because I feel like I’m sharing my personality, ideas and creativity with everyone. Seeing everyone love it is even better. That experience was really the tipping point.
How did you get started?
Diego: I designed the “World of Mystery” hoodie back in April or May of last year. I was trying to get another one made before that was similar in January of last year but I was having huge problems getting a manufacturer that could make it happen. I didn’t get inspired to try again until I got invited to a local brand pop up on May 30th and talked to the owners of a successful brand in Puerto Rico who told me their manufacturer. The story of what it took to get that hoodie made is horrible. I had to go through three or four manufacturers to get it done correctly and had to pay for all the samples too. My hoodie was supposed to release in August but it ended up releasing December 20th. I started in June and contacted a manufacturer who said he’d get the sample done. Three weeks later he sent me the samples and they were terrible. I didn’t like them at all and around that time in June was when I started talking to Dylan and he said he could help. I’m not dissing Dylan but his manufacturer couldn’t get it done either. He told me to work with merchmadeeasy so I got on a call and ordered the sample in July. I still haven’t received that sample and it took him 3-4 months to return my money. During this time I kept gaining followers and had to give excuses as to why it wasn’t dropping yet. It forced me to make more videos and content which definitely helped me grow. But the third time I went to a local manufacturer and they also fucked up and did it completely wrong. After three tries nobody was able to do it and it felt like it was going to be impossible. The fourth time I went to someone called Genesis Studios and they gave me their manufacturer and it worked out great. It was five months of trial and error to get the perfect hoodie made, but the shirt was a little easier since I was able to use the same manufacturer.
Have you always been interested in fashion and art?
Diego: Fashion not so much but definitely art. I’ve been drawing and painting ever since I was three or four years old. I used to watch Pokemon when I was six or seven and I’d pause the TV and draw the Pokemon on the screen and hang them on my walls. I’d do all different colors, shadowing, everything. When I felt really inspired I’d go to my grandparents PC, and look up Pokemon or Bugatti’s and Ferrari’s and draw them. So I’ve been drawing my whole life and I got into painting more recently when I was around 10. I finally started getting into fashion when I was 15 or something like that.
Talk about your first “A Perplexing Perspective” collection. How did you come up with that name?
Diego: Shoutout to everybody that knows this, but I love the game Destiny. It’s incredible. That game is part of my life and that lore helped shape this collection. An enemy from that game called Vex inspired the collection too, in short summary they’re able to write themselves into existence. I love space, paradoxes, the whole idea of space-time continuum, astrology, and four dimensional objects. I wanted to manifest all that into a collection that I can wear and express love for. I really like the whole vaporwave aesthetic and the whole ethereal, surreal feel. I mixed both together and made what went on in my head when I saw images and listened to music. Perplexing perspective means something that’s impossible, and I’m trying to manifest or create something that can’t be. I want to show people something they wouldn’t see anywhere else. That’s why I like to make everything unique to show things that aren’t always present to most people. I had a dream about a year ago where I saw some objects that I can’t explain. I have no idea what to tell you I saw since there’s no words that can explain it. That was a big tipping point because it made me wish that I could show someone what I saw, so I made a collection trying to show people something that is surreal, dreamy, and something you’ll never see in real life.
Where did you get the idea to accent your stitching with different colors?
Diego It’s interesting how I look at it because I didn’t see it as different threads. When you have a dream there’s always certain moments that stand out that you remember. To me, the hoodie itself being black is like blank space, and the stitching represents the details and moments that you really remember. It’s not something that’s really prominent but it definitely does stand out. So to me that stitching apart from looking pretty good is symbolic. It just represents these ideas, memories, and things you have present after you wake up or after you pass through an experience or period of time. They help you connect the whole story and the stitching is very vivid and connects the whole hoodie together.
Do you make all your promotional videos for your drops yourself?
Diego: Yup, I do everything by myself.
How did you learn to do that?
Diego: I’ve learned through Youtube in the beginning. I looked up lots of videos to start but now everything I do is inside my head, I don’t look at tutorials anymore. I don’t mean to sound cocky but when people ask me what to look for on Youtube I don’t know what to tell them since everything I make now comes from my mind. When I go into making videos I really don’t know what I’m doing in the beginning. I just sit down and start making things that flow into my mind at that point in time and it’s as simple as that. My mind is never quiet, I feel like I’m always thinking about 20 trillion things so it’s pretty easy to funnel all that into something creative.
Do you also make them for other brands and artists?
Diego: I’ve made videos for brands like Ransom, WWY, Hard Jewelry, Unwanted, and archive pages too. I make videos for people that really connect with what I’m trying to do. I don’t make them for everybody, I’d be prostituting my name in a way if I did. I make videos for people who’s vision I share and people I really like.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Diego: Design-wise it comes from a mixture of things. The biggest inspiration to me is my childhood. Everything that’s been part of my life and everything I’ve lived through is my best form of inspiration. The best thing that helps jumpstart those memories is archive pages like LilJupiter, Sinerrr, and awgecollection. I was born in 2000 so I’m a 2000’s kid and a lot of shit happened during that time. The PSP, Gamecube, and PS2 were a huge part of my life growing up. I remember playing GTA without my parents knowing because they’d get pissed off if they found out. I used to play my cousins PSP and games like Crash Bandicoot, Sly Cooper and Ratchet & Clank, so there’s a reason my videos all have shitty 2D graphics. I still draw a ton of inspiration from those games. The other huge inspiration in my life is my dreams. It might sound corny but it’s true. The whole second collection is going to be called DreamScape because of a dream I had, and I’m making that whole dream into a collection. Since my mind has so many things happening at the same time when I dream is when it shows up and I take inspiration from that. I’ve gotten so many ideas for videos when I’m dreaming, it’s honestly crazy. I fear the day I don’t have dreams, that’ll be the day Vital Studios dies. So design inspiration definitely comes from my childhood and my dreams. A little bit also comes from other brands here and there since they do some pretty cool things as well.
What people inspire you?
Diego: Dylan’s work ethic is incredible. He told me this one day and I’ll never forget it, “work so hard that it’s impossible for you to fail.” I work my ass off and don’t stop until I know it’ll succeed, and then when I know I work twice as hard to affirm it. So Dylan’s work ethic is a huge inspiration and I’m also inspired by Carti and Uzi’s music. The dreamy feel that they have in some of their songs is incredible, I love that. I’m also very inspired by Gary Vee, he’s incredible. I started doing TikTok because of him and I gained 4.5k followers in a few days and hit 17k in a week. My grandfather is another big inspiration to me, he’s worked his ass off his whole life. He’s 64 and still doesn’t stop working, he doesn’t work in a factory or anything labor intensive but he does a lot of investing and he’s really into business which helped shape who I am. So I’d say my biggest inspirations are Dylan, music, Gary Vee, and my grandfather.
Your website looks very unique, did you make it yourself?
Diego: I have a friend that coded it but I designed the intro video, the colors, icons and all the visual aspects. Shoutout @warmm.uk, I met him on Reddit when he saw one of the videos I made and he said we should make a website. We worked on it and three months later it was there. It’s exactly what I wanted and even more, he’s a great person. I want to make it clear that I didn’t know AWGE’s website existed before I made mine. However it does exist so I can’t do much about it. I have minigames on mine, a shutdown button, you can drag icons, and it functions like a real Windows PC. I’ll be adding something crazy to it soon, stay tuned.
Are there any other brands or designers you want to work with?
Diego: There are a few people that I want to collaborate with. As far as videos go, I really love doing them for myself but if I have to do them for others I will. But as far as collaborations go, I really want to collab with Hard Jewelry and make some jewelry. Siberia Hills is incredible too with how they put a story into everything they do, it’s amazing. I want to work with Dylan from Worldwide Youth as well. I’m making a video for Dylan that you’ll see soon that’s based on Mario 64. I recreated Peach’s castle with WWY elements on it and the inside is a monopoly board, it’s crazy. I also want to work with Unwanted. I really want to collab with brands like Nightclub and anime-inspired artists like Jun Inagawa. I really want to make a collection with anime stuff in it and I’ve been looking to find a brand like that.
Talk about your upcoming, “Spacetime” tee. What was the inspiration behind that piece?
Diego: It’s very similar to the hoodie, but I did switch up the colors to give it a more lighthearted, casual vibe. The hoodie was more of a serious piece whereas the tee could be seen as more casual. It’s a 9oz tee so it’s heavy and feels really good. The inspiration was just switching up the colors to be more lighthearted. All the inspiration for the hoodie translates to the tee since it’s the same thing just a different color.
When is that dropping?
Diego: February 20th at 4 PM ET.
How did Eladio Carrion end up rocking the tee?
Diego: I work really closely with a big brand here in Puerto Rico called @the.onlyone. They know everybody here in Puerto Rico and I’ve helped them with so many designs and videos so when I said I needed help with something they gave me his managers number and I talked to him for a while. Eventually I got him the shirt and he performed in it at the biggest Latino place you possibly could called Despierta America. I’m probably going to have some other big Puerto Rican artists wearing my clothing soon as well but nobody really knows who they are since like 97% of my audience is from the US. Nobody has an idea who they are but to me it’s special.
Could you see streetwear brands popping off in Latin America in the near future?
Diego: Latin America has huge potential right now. There’s a big brand in Puerto Rico called FRSH Company with 50-60k that has artists like Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny and other huge artists wearing it. I’m not saying it started in Puerto Rico but latin trap is extremely strong here. Bad Bunny is Puerto Rican and upcoming artists like Lunay are from Puerto Rico too. We’re definitely adjusting to that here since people are doing a lot of streetwear and different art. Here’s the thing, some Puerto Rican brands are really boxed in. They still have that mindset that if you place your logo on a hoodie it’s going to sell and I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I’m really trying to make something special and different and have it be huge. This is what I love doing and I’d love to live off of this and travel the world doing what I love. It’s a really huge plus being able to say that I’m Latino and Puerto Rican. I can definitely see Puerto Rico being in the streetwear arena, we’re not extremely into it right now but it’s definitely starting. There’s going to be a huge event here soon with lots of brands that’ll be very powerful. The culture here is definitely expanding, slowly but surely.
Are there any other music artists you want rocking Vital Studios this year?
Diego: For sure, Tokyo’s Revenge, Uzi, Carti, A$AP Rocky, Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Cazzu, there’s so many. Also Tecca, but that one’s already in progress. Ski Mask as well, I love that guy. I’ve been listening to him since 2016. There’s probably more but that’s all I can think of right now.
Are there any other garments, mediums, or accessories you want to experiment with in the future?
Diego: I really want to do jewelry. Jewelry is something I love and I wear a lot of it, pearls, silver, all that. Instead of a clasp I think it’d be cool to have an ethernet connecter made of metal connecting it together in the back. That’d be awesome to make if possible (Will let’s make it happen). I’m also in the process of making some shoes that I’ll be teasing here soon. I’m working on some really custom shoes, I know they’re going to be expensive as hell to make but that’s fine. If I make something it’ll always be the best that I can possibly make it, I’m not cheaping out on anything. I really want to make puffers and jeans, but the really different shit is shoes and jewelry. I’m also experimenting with AR technology and clothing. I want to make something where you can scan the label of the hoodies and have a 3D model come up spinning on your phone. I want to implement tech into clothing since my brand is so based off of tech. That’s something that I really want to work with.
What should we expect to see next from Vital Studios?
Diego: If you liked the first collection you’re going to be amazed at what’s coming next. I’ve worked so much to get everything exactly how I want it for the second collection. This hoodie I’m dropping for the second is something that I’m never going to take off. Not just because it’s a nice design and all but everything is so detailed. It’s just incredible to me and really captures what I wanted to do. I really don’t want to talk much more about it though because I want it to be a surprise. When I got the idea for the first collection back in May of last year I didn’t know 1/12 of the things I know now so this new one is going to be an extreme step up. I’m really proud of it.
Where do you want to take Vital Studios in the next year?
Diego: I want to be able to live off of my brand by the end of the year. I want to be able to fly places and take inspiration from everywhere I go. I’ve had the opportunity to go to so many places but I wasn’t able to because of money or timing so I really want that freedom to travel. That’s an extremely crucial thing to me and #1. #2 is that I just want Vital Studios to inspire. It’s incredible, I feel like I’m so small right now but people still DM me saying that I’m one of their favorite brands. Thinking that I was able to do something for someone else like that is huge and makes me feel incredible. Maybe they’ll get inspiration from me and create a brand that explodes which would be amazing. But I really want to build something that lasts even after I’m dead. Something that leaves a legacy and something that people here about and say wow. I don’t want to limit myself to just making shirts and hoodies either, I want to experiment with new technologies in the future. I don’t want to limit myself to clothing, I really don’t. I want to move past that to where you’re still doing clothing but like how Off-White is doing it. They have incredible stores that are a whole design within themselves. So I just want to get to the point where I can experiment and do this crazy tech stuff. A year from now I really do see myself being in a position where I’m able to dedicate my whole day to my brand and live doing what I love most. Being able to hire my friends is also really important and mostly just being happy. I’m happy now but being able to live off of my brand, that’s the happiest thing I could ever do.
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