Big Willy Love Club
April 28 2022
The Big Willy Love Club is fashion's latest contemporary brand immortalizing a sub-culture from the inside. While the last two decades birthed numerous designers putting on for their culture, Willy Chavarria is rounding out the representation missing in the high fashion world.
Before 'Black and Brown' was Black and anything non-White or Asian, Black and Brown meant African American and Latin American. These marginalized communities were often (and still today) reduced to societal stereotypes of rebellious, gang-affiliated, crime-ridden neighborhoods and a community rejecting assimilation. While this was an inaccurate portrayal, there is truth to the interlinking of the Black and Brown experience. Both are subjected and forced to fight structural racism while advocating for cultural solidarity, liberation, and empowerment. When the Black Power movement emerged, the Chicano Movement was in lockstep. Where there were the Black Panthers, there was the Brown Berets.
The history here is relevant because Willy Chavarria New York tells a story through his pronounced lapels, oversized silhouettes, and pressed creases. He brings the concept of intersectionality a step further to actual blood-line relations. His garments are transitional, embodying every member of a specific community, one with flare and more influence than accredited.
Chavarria's demeanor is calm and collected, yet his connection to the different sectors within the Latinx community gives his character the likability to garner unanimous support. While his personal wardrobe boasts the same motifs of his eponymous label, Chavarria has a certain softness to his charm that offers even more juxtaposition with the attire.
"Instead of just having our identity taken from us and put into fashion and sold. Now we are actually a part of it." explained Chavarria in a 2021 CFDA interview, later adding, "Thinking future, gender is out the door. It's just clothes. It's just ultimately clothes."
Chavarria creates looks of someone you might run into at the corner store, or your grandmother's backyard, fighting in the alley, playing music from the car stereo while dancing in the street, at the club– the list goes on. The characters he creates are all real people, and the energy they bring to his runway makes it feel like they could, in all actuality, be someone's cousin or a neighborhood boy.
While in conversation with Interview Magazine, Willy spoke to the layers of thought behind his ballooning forms. Reclaiming it as "a statement about the area of space that we take up," adding, "I think that it's really nice when brown people or people of colour are able to say, 'Yeah, this is my space.'"
He brings together a group of people who typically go unnoticed for their striking looks but are reduced to an animal attraction. Sexuality is heavily present in his collections, and even though they should be celebrated for their divine beauty rather than exoticized, Willy doesn't shy away from the sensuality. Instead, he embraces it with holistically full force. And with a stirring momentum, Willy is constructing a world where the unseen is now sought after.
"My brand plays with the ideas of heightened masculinity in a way that connects with my queer identity," he said to Office Magazine when discussing his FW22 show 'UNCUT.' "I like my Willy Boys to be all genders."
His work is Spirit, fashion reincarnated. It's a love letter to the love letters sent between growing families and those serving a sentence, an ode to a 90s queer aesthetic in a masculated turf. It is a message for the celestial indigenous, championing their essence. Willy Chavarria's designs are a sewn promise that their flowers are finally on the way.
Text by Shahrnaz Javid