The “1990″ Interview W/ Elvin Roman Of UNICO.Featured — By JGM Staff on October 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm
Tees are just shirts if they don’t have an underlying meaning, and today we’re at a crossroad between brands and failed attempts at public relation careers. Often, creators get so caught up in making friends and fans in this industry that they forget the authenticity of the concept of garnering respect for being real and representing for what it’s all about. At this point people run out of options and don’t believe that this is a way of representing them anymore, and then what’s the purpose of these designs and names? But when times like this occur and interest is lost, you gain a reason to have hope in this. The UNICO 1990 is a great reason, a brand started in NYC isn’t going to disappoint by trying to be cool for the cameras. Jungle Gym Magazine sat down to talk to Elvin Roman, owner and head designer of The UNICO 1990 about his start up to being one of the future street-wear lifestyle brands to make a big impact in the industry that they are in.
Words by Frederick T. Smith
JGM: For those who don’t know, what does The UNICO 1990 stand for ?
E. Roman: “The Unico” means “The only one”. I chose to use a Spanish word for the simple fact that I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and the “1990″ stands for the year I was born. There was a lot of wild shit going on in the USA during that era like the Dream Team, some of the realest to ever touch the mic in Hip Hop died throughout those years. N*ggas getting robbed in NYC over Polo pieces, and Puerto Rican boxers like Tito Trinidad whopping n*ggas asses and shit. Anyways to me the 90′s were the shit man, the 90′s mean a lot to me. That’s why it’s “The Unico 1990″ and fuck the rest.
JGM: How did the brand come about?
E. Roman: When I was in PR as a kid I always wanted to make my own clothing line and be apart of this industry. It was hard due to the fact that I didn’t speak English when I first got to the US. I was just hustling and spending all my money on what I liked and what I felt I needed. After a while I got sick of spending money on gear, so I was like fuck this shit I’m going to make my own brand based on my life as inspiration, and turning my ideas into designs. The only thing that I really own in this world, is my life and ideas.
JGM: Do you consider yourselves a lifestyle or street-wear brand?
E. Roman: Well lets just say that my lifestyle has become apart of street-wear and street-wear has become apart of my lifestyle. Like I said before I use events in my life to inspire my designs. For example our latest t-shirt “The Unico Young-Gunz”, I created “The Unico Young-Gunz” because that is what the family is about. Just a bunch “Young-Gunz” doing their things, helping each other out, and trying to stay away from what we used to do in the streets.
JGM: Is there a method to the cool font text based prints?
E. Roman: Hell yea, first I have to smoke lots of good weed so I could concentrate because I’m too hyper. I chill with The UNICO family and make moves in the day time, and sketch a whole bunch of different shit at night. Then I put the drawings on a computer and send them to one of my homies. From there he fucks with the programs he uses and digitizes the designs.
JGM: How do you feel about the culture of street fashion today?
E. Roman: I feel that street fashion today is wack as fuck but is getting better day by day. To me it’s funny that people only want to rock Bape, BBC, Original Fake, and Supreme due to the hype. Then again, there are real n*ggs making real dope gear like NA from “DEADLINE”, Debo from “DANG!”, my homeboy Jesus from “MOTA NY”, “AM after midnight” and Jalil from “APPEAL”. Personally I think these brands are going to take over the streets in the near future and when that happens street fashion will finally be reunited with “culture” again.
JGM: Who inspires you and if you had the chance would you work with them?
E. Roman: Like I said before I use my own life as inspiration. There is nothing better than the struggle and the fucked up shit I’ve been through to get to where I am today. Honestly I could care less about working with other people, but if it happens it happens. Now on the other hand working with big time companies like NIKE, Reebok, and or Fila would be dope.
JGM: What are some future moves that we can expect from The UNICO?
E. Roman: The family stay making moves, never not making moves. There is a lot of dope stuff coming soon, but I’d rather just let my actions speak for themselves, but we are currently in the middle of making a collabo t-shirt with this brand from Brooklyn “MOTA NY“. The shirts will be released at the MOTA NY store during The Unico 1990 X MOTA NY event. We definitely are going to show our supporters and non believers how we get shit poppin.
Photos by Alonzo Unico