As many brands have begun attempting to address the systemic racism that has created a fashion industry dominated by white creatives, models, and executives, they would do well to look to Gypsy Sport as an example. Since it was first established in 2012, Rio Uribe’s project has served as a shining example of how these principles can be embedded into a brand’s philosophy from the ground up. “If I wasn’t already representing Black or trans people, then I think it would be the perfect time to do so,” he says. “But I’m glad that it’s always been part of our message—right now, we’re just speaking up a little louder.”
Rio Uribe has a clear memory of his first encounter with the world of fashion. “I remember watching Fashion TV when that existed,” he recalls of growing up in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles with Mexican parents. “I loved seeing supermodels, and growing up it was just a fascination, but there was a certain point in my youth when it clicked. I realized that everybody on the covers and billboards was a beautiful, skinny, and most likely white person, and I never fit that stereotype. So it became my mission to break into the fashion industry and create a space that was for people who were shorter or darker or fatter or queer, or whatever you might be. And when I started Gypsy Sport, I was able to do that.”
Uribe’s route to establishing the brand was a circuitous one. While he had made clothes for his little brothers all his life, it was after working his way up to a senior position in merchandising at Balenciaga that he began making his signature upcycled pieces and promoting them through Tumblr. There was a guerilla-style show staged in Washington Square Park in 2014 that truly caught the fashion world’s attention. A year later, he found himself a co-winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund’s top prize alongside Aurora James of Brother Vellies and Jonathan Simkhai.