“I grew up in the East Bay, in Union City, a suburb of Oakland, and I came up with a lot of different people. And Filipino kids were always known to have a lot of style that was respected not just within our own group, but also was respected and lauded by all the other groups as well. I think that really carried a lot of weight to me, like, 'Hey man, it's cool to be Filipino!' And maybe when my parents were growing up, especially my dad growing up in Queens, it probably wasn't that cool to be Filipino.”
Justin Bautista, along with partner and college buddy Nathaniel Torres, opened the streetwear boutique Tilted Brim in the Tenderloin just over a year ago with the intention of creating a shop that expressed their core philosophy: Angle Is Attitude.
“The attitude that we try to bring in the store is kind of like a street smart, hustling appreciation for the City and sports and style, and attention to detail, all wrapped together through a look that is as nonchalant as it is rooted in street fashion and sport style.”
Still, Justin is careful to highlight how, despite the influences of streetwear and hip-hop culture, his family and his upbringing had a major impact on his understanding of aesthetic — and therefore, the approach to clothing on display at Tilted Brim.
“My style icons were my mom, my dad, and my grandpa. My grandpa came to New York when my dad was seven. He always had a really good style, pretty tailored, because in his day you didn’t buy stuff off the rack — the finest dressers always had their clothing made. And then my mom's mom was a dressmaker, and all of my mom's clothes growing up were all made by her mom, my grandma. So I think that’s where I get my eye for style and fashion, because it is ingrained that deeply into me. And I also think that my dad’s childhood in New York also had a huge influence his style, and therefore on me, and therefore on the store's style, and its location, and its identity as sort of an underdog.”
Presenting that mentality through a carefully curated lineup of brands and products, Tilted Brim stocks wares that evoke a sensibility that’s decidedly modern and urban, while still paying respect to the heritage brands that helped institute the idea of streetwear in the formative late ‘80s and early ‘90s
“We have our own line, Tilted Brim, the name of the shop. And it consists of cut-and-sew, accessories, and printables. We've got Ben Davis, which is a work wear brand that started in San Francisco -- and Ben Davis' grandfather actually helped invent blue jeans with Levi Strauss, so we thought it was important to bring that type of connection, given that jeans were invented in San Francisco. So Ben Davis kind of was a street wear brand before there was even street wear, because there weren't any brands that catered to more discerning young people. But on the other side, we have Champion from Europe. And Champion is kind of another brand that people wore as street wear before there were dedicated brands. And it's fabricated really nicely, with great details and great fit -- and it adds an element of exclusivity, because we are the only store in the City with this collection.”
Working with a boutique mentality has helped connect Tilted Brim with the other small businesses in the Tenderloin — a tight-knit community that Justin indicates as a key driver for Tilted Brim’s involvement with Undiscovered SF, where he feels the project helps contribute to wider goals of ownership and economic empowerment for Filipino-Americans in the Bay Area.
“One of my neighbors over here at the shop plugged me into Undiscovered -- Andy Alvarado of The Family Room. He is one block over and two blocks up from me, and he asked if I was interested by the Undiscovered show. And I thought it was a really good idea, and Andy signed up for the first one, and he got us into the first one, back in August. And we both had a really good event -- it was crazy, that first one, just how many people showed up. And the night after, I remember, we booked for the rest of the Undiscovered calendar for the year. I like the idea of food, retail, and entertainment all together -- it's not just something that Filipino people like to do, but something that people like to do.”