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    Rhuigi Villaseñor, Bally’s New Man, Is Hopeful and Nervous About the Future of Streetwear


    Rhuigi Villaseñor is an international man of luxury—Birkin collector, McLaren driver, perfect skin, smooth talker—and he’s therefore the perfect choice to reanimate the Swiss luxury house Bally. When the Swiss luxury house announced they were hiring Villaseñor, founder of the brand Rhude, as its new creative director, social media engagement went up a whopping 5,000%, he said. “I feel hopeful,” he said in a conversation earlier this week. “I feel good.”

    And, he said, he’s feeling “nervous. I didn’t want to feel any pressure to meet any expectations but ours.” He knew that the appointment would mean more people than ever before would be looking at his Fall 2022 show, which he shared in a video presentation and lookbook on the Paris calendar on Wednesday. On Saturday, he’d head to Switzerland to start his new job. At the end of our call, he started singing Adele, as a sort of plea: “Go ee-eee-eee-easy on me, baybay!”

    The fanaticism of Villaseñor’s customers means it really doesn’t matter whether you go easy on him or not. He’s constantly talking to them, teaching them, guiding them through clothes. Villaseñor, who has many fans in their twenties and thirties, said, “I’m watching kids just be more aware of how they manage their money—where they invest it, whether it’s in clothes or in stocks or companies.” He called the collection “Bull Market.” He was thinking about how money, wrapped up as it is now in cryptocurrency and new forms of power and even self-expression, is kind of its own culture. Men are now geeking out about money the way they started to do about streetwear a few years ago, and the way they did twenty years ago about basketball. What a world! Villaseñor wanted to dress his guys for a modern Wall Street, imagining them in spiffy suits and big fur coats, a little American Gigolo meets American Gangster. He wants to encourage the kids to keep suiting alive, so he brought in a new talent to help with his tailoring: Denis Frison, the LA-based bespoke tailor who’s beloved by Al Pacino.

    Courtesy of Rhude.
    Courtesy of Rhude.

    When Villaseñor’s new job was announced, there was a little ruffling that a luxury brand was hiring a “streetwear” designer. Huh! A lot of designers bristle at that word, because many people use it as a synonym for “nonwhite.” Villaseñor knows that: “I find that this is really more so a reflection of the person’s core beliefs, rather than my personal work,” he said of the descriptor. “If we can find a way to heal, and find a medium to understand why [the word ‘streetwear’] has a class connotation, and what the true purpose of calling it ‘streetwear’ is, then we can find a perfect marriage.” It seems crazy to have to say this after Virgil Abloh spent over three years turning the idea of a “streetwear designer” upside down, but when a brand like Bally or J.Crew hires a Villaseñor or a Brendon Babenzien, they aren’t trying to catch up to the legacy of Bape or the heat of Palace. They’re linking up with designers who have created an entire subculture around getting dressed.

    Courtesy of Rhude.

    His best-selling pieces are his penny loafers and his outerwear—pure American sportswear. In fact, he started this collection from a very commercial place, noticing that younger customers were gravitating towards his big beautiful coats online, with many of the fabrics, like an outrageous pink fur trim, borrowed from unused material from previous seasons. Our upcycling luxury prince!

    The two best looks, that hint at the sort of finesse Villaseñor will bring to Bally, are the most extreme. One: a DB pinstripe suit with a leather bomber on top. And two: a big-ass fake fur coat with a trapper hat over true-blue jeans and a pair of loafers, with a little white sock. Streetwear? Sportswear? Who cares! KA-CHING!

    Courtesy of Rhude.
    Courtesy of Rhude.



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