Hailing from the Bay Area in California, AJ200 is an up and coming fashion designer looking to take the industry by storm. Started amid the pandemic, AJ200 launched his streetwear brand BENO. His influences—Jerry Alonzo, Nigo, and Kanye West—are plain to see in the range of tees and caps, which all incorporate distinct and sometimes hand-drawn designs. As the brand slogan states, “BELIEVE in yourself and you will be UNSTOPPABLE.”
For the first edition of our new editorial series, we chatted with musician, graphic designer, and brand owner AJ200. In our recent sit-down, the multifaceted entrepreneur discusses his love for streetwear, watching the fashion industry evolve, and his clothing line BENO. Check out our interview with AJ200 below.
When did your love of streetwear begin?
I fell in love with streetwear when I was in 8th grade really. I remember growin’ up I was begging my mom to buy me that Bape hoodie. It was so expensive she couldn’t afford it so I saved up all my money and bought it. I gave all my money to her and she bought it for me because I didn’t have a debit card haha.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
It was when I was in high school sophomore. I started sketching graffitis, logos, clothes, and sneakers. Then I kinda took it seriously and bought so many clothes. I spent all my first FedEx paycheck on true religions, Ralph Laurens and Jordans. I thought I was fly wearing em haha. When I checked my card it was $30 or $40 left in there haha. I was broke trynna to flex it all on clothes.
What’s the story behind the name BENO?
I’ll keep this short but “BENO” is really my last name. Well, my pop’s last name backward. I lost my dad when I was a kid. So I wanted to keep his name up there and make it a well-known brand.
How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?
I want them to feel powerful and confident when it comes to wearing our clothes.
Do you have a favorite fashion trend at the moment and if so, why?
I really don’t have any favorites. I wear whatever I like and I just go with the flow. I don’t follow the trends. I feel like you gotta be different in this industry and not follow what’s trending. You gotta have a lot of originality in order for you to make it out in this industry.
Can you describe the design process from conception to realization?
I do everything on Photoshop/AI really. I do all the designs on there first and put the designs on mock-up T-shirts, hoodies, and stuff like that. Then, I’ll go ahead and send it to my manufacturer and see if it’s possible for them to make it. I always do samples first before doing mass production. If I really like the sample and the quality is on point, that’s when I do the whole production. For me, it’s always gonna be quality over quantity.
In general, how do you see streetwear evolving in the fashion industry over the next few years?
I feel like streetwear will eventually get its own throne in a few years or so. The reason why I said that is because streetwear is taking over the world. More and more people are getting into streetwear. People are going crazy on streetwear because of how cheap it is compared to high-end clothing.
Streetwear is more affordable and quality is on point too. As you can see more and more high-end brands are collaborating with streetwear brands because they see the hype and the money in it. People would spend days in lines to get that specific item. For example that “LV x Supreme” collab was crazy. People really spent so much money on that collab and it was sold out in less than thirty seconds. It’s crazy!
What’s next for BENO?
What’s next for Beno. We will be doing pop-up shops all over the country and take it worldwide soon hopefully. There will also be a lot of collabs forsure. Gotta stay tuned!
Elsewhere in fashion, Rolling Loud dropped their terry sweats collection.