by Jaz Colon
Ok, so we know that there are a bunch of boutiques, galleries, and cafes popping up in Bushwick. With four coffee shops on one block, it’s all becoming over-rated. Some people have even said that it’s no longer feeling like a community. Why is there a huge disconnect between the new community that is being built and the pre-existing one that has been around for thirty-plus years? It’s not the new businesses that are creating this feeling. It’s the people who run them. However, this is not the story with every new venture in Bushwick. There are a lot of genuine people doing amazing things through all forms of art, from music, dancing, fashion, and more.
Alfredo Leijia (29, born and raised in Texas) and Shock Vintage (29, born and raised in Atlanta, GA) are among the many talented. They run a collaborative boutique called DRTY SMMR (DS), which lies on 1198 Myrtle Ave. Being under the loud and constantly running M train gives their storefront a chic, yet edgy look. From the outside you can see at least two racks filled with treasures: evening gowns, vintage findings, and punky, avant-garde styles. Inside are enough beautiful accessories to leave you with a completely new outfit.
Beautiful murals, along with paintings, dress their walls. DS has it all, but the thing that struck me the most was the vibe I got the minute I walked into the space. It felt inviting. Alfredo and Shock were very warm and vibrant and filled with genuine personality. You could sense their joy in having you there. Their whole essence and how they carry themselves represent community. They really have a passion to build bonds with every one who walks in and out of their shop. Alfredo and Shock are very connected to the local youth group, Educated Little Monsters. Shock came and spent a day with them talking about fashion and design. Alfredo created the costume for their first dance showcase. He took care of them. Knowing that this little shop not only offers unique fashion, but also helps the community is a win for any town. Make sure you come out and give them a visit.
Here’s a little info about the designers:
Bushwick Bridge (BWB): How long have you lived in Bushwick and what made you choose Bushwick?
Alfredo Leijia (AL): Actually, my first apartment was in Bed-Stuy, in 2010. I left there at the time, because I felt like it wasn’t coming up fast enough. You know, that young creative life. The Bushwick art scene was a lot stronger than it was in Bed-Stuy at the time.
Shock Vintage (SV): I’ve been in Bushwick, on and off, for four years. I chose Bushwick for the prices and distance to the city.
BWB: How long have you been designing?
AL: Wow, I was about fifteen. I designed four girls’ dresses and my suit for our high school prom. I was sketching at seven years old. I always knew that I wanted to make things with my hands and at fifteen I knew it was my passion. I still have the sketch of an off-the-shoulder jacket I made in red.
SV: I’ve been designing ever since I was about 12-years-old.
BWB: How would you describe your designs?
AL: They are edgy and elegant. I always feel like I’m dressing up a vampire from the 1920s. I wish I grew up in the 1920s and the 1940s. I love [those eras]. [They] inspire my style.
SV: My designer style is a mixture between urban-wear and athletic-wear. And [it’s] slightly couture, due to the authenticity.
BWB: How has your experience been overall in Bushwick?
AL: I really like it a lot. It’s one of the best communities I’ve been to. So many mixtures of people. I love the diversity. We get a lot of good feedback from people who come by our shop. We had this one lady–who happened to be a native–who told us, “Thank you for bringing some beauty to our community.” It felt amazing to hear her say that. It’s also an overwhelming feeling to see how happy a new client is when they get something custom-made specifically for them. It always feels like my first piece.
BWB: Do you think Bushwick fits your style?
SV: Bushwick, like most areas, don’t necessarily fit my style, because I’m extremely unique within my style. It’s never planned. It’s inspired by culture and art and fashion.
BWB: What do you love most about designing clothes?
SV: Designing clothes is very therapeutic. It’s also exclusive, because you are the only person who creates that design. There is nothing like originality.