December 19th, 2020, I went to a pop up in Queens that was being held by the brand Ghetto Friends (@ghettofriends), founded by two brothers from Queens, New York. Noe and Elias Zepeda, Noe being the older brother (19) and Elias being the younger by a year (18). When I arrived at the pop up, it was very different from any other pop up I’ve been to. It had artifacts from other cultures, and there were life-like statues of bear and deer heads on the wall. The floor was made of actual newspaper that was plastered down, their hangers with clothes they have yet to release, and their 1 of 1 pants that they did, hand stitched. They had a playlist of classical and rap music playing in the back, going from Mozart to A$AP Rocky. I must say, it was a very nice and calm pop up. Very different from the ones I’ve been to, and the potential these two have is very exciting and I can’t wait to see what they have in store.
INTERVIEW WITH NOE ZEPEDA
Diego: What got you into clothes and fashion?
Noe: It started out with me collecting shoes and being a sneakerhead, after that I started matching the shoes with the outfits I wore, even the polos and school cargos I wore, I matched the shoes with it. But after a while I just started wearing my own shit, I used to get in trouble for not wearing my uniform but the punishment I got wasn’t even bad, it was just not being able to sit with your class in lunch.
Diego: So you didn’t care and you just said fuck it.
Noe: Yea I didn’t give a fuck.
Diego: Do you ever follow any of the fashion trends since you like to design clothes
Noe: I don’t like following trends, I do my own shit, but if I do follow something that’s trending, I don’t want to do it the way everyone else is doing it, I change it up, I want it to look different. Like those distressed denim jeans, a lot of people are doing them on denim jeans, I put the distressed denim look on the teddy bears that I made instead.
Diego: I also noticed you made these pants that have a reptile look to them that Tory Lanez and Lil Gotit wore, how did that happen?
Noe: Somebody from the label hit me up for Lil Gotit but for the Tory Lanez one, some stylist that I know, she was working with this well-known stylist and the pants were meant for some other artist for like a shoot, I think they didn’t have time to give the pants the artist but a few months after she texted me saying to check Tory Lanez IG and she sent me a photo of him wearing my pants and I just like oh shit, what the fuck.
Diego: it must have felt like an unreal moment. How did you feel when you saw that?
Noe: It’s cool, it doesn’t really feel like it’s mad fire or anything, for me it was regular or whatever, that’s the shit I don’t get excited for, the shit I would get excited for is way different. Just because Tory Lanez isn’t somebody that cares about fashion really.
Diego: If a well-known designer wore your clothes, would that make you feel like it’s unreal?
Noe: Yea because I know that person cares about what I wear and knows there is value behind each piece of clothing than a rapper who just wears clothes and throws it away or just gives it to their friend.
Diego: Yea that is true, I also saw that you were in Vogue, what was that like?
Noe: Oh yea, shoutout Willy Chavarria, Willy was one of my mentors, he was mentoring me for the time that I was interning with him. He’s cool he’s fire, I fuck with him.
Diego: He’s the one that got you on Vogue, what was that like.
Noe: It was also just like cool, it’s not something I went crazy about because everyone and their moms is on Vogue now. It would be different if I had, like, my own story on Vogue, it was just a runway photo that they chose to use.
Diego: Like you said before Willy Chavarria was, he’s like a mentor to you, or was he someone that helped you grow as a person?
Noe: Both. He would always show me what’s up, he would just show me stuff whenever I was there, I always had fun there, that shit was helping me design a brand. He showed me a lot of stuff that helped me, I’m mad grateful for him.
Diego: It was one big learning experience and helped you a lot.
Noe: I learned a lot, he helped me a lot, when I was there, he was putting the show together and on top of that he put me on the show too which was sick.
Diego: Alright last question and that is about your tattoo which is in a very controversial spot some people may say, the tattoo on your forehead “Too Young to Die”. Let me ask these two questions. What does it mean and what did your parents think?
Noe: My Parents were like cool, it wasn’t like yo what the fuck, they were just like you got that and whatever comes after that you gotta handle it yourself. Either if it’s good or bad, just gotta handle it.
Diego: And your tattoo that says “Too Young to Die” what made you come up with that?
Noe: Shit, Too Young to Die, I just got a lot to live for.