By: Seamus Fay
Fueled by the environment around him, Brockton designer Rui Afonseca has become known as a local favorite through his streetwear brand GAS, emphasis on the “street”. A genuine reflection of his lifestyle is shown in each and every piece, and with an abundance of precision and care put into each order, trust me when I say that Rui is onto something big. By mixing universal design concepts with his personality as a product of hometown pride, GAS is a brand that you’re sure to remember after buying a piece, especially when it comes to packaging. But more on that later. I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with the founder of GAS, with topics ranging from the background of specific designs to Rui’s business model and his aspirations for the future. Read the interview below.
Being a Brockton native, how have your surroundings affected the clothes you strive to make?
Every collection and every design to come is based off my surroundings and whatever situation shifted the mood at that time.
When did you first become interested in fashion? Who/what did you look up to for inspiration at this time?
I’ve been into clothes for the last 7 years, especially being a fashion photographer first, I was always exposed to clothes. I didn’t really look up to any particular brands besides Original Fake, Chrome Hearts, and little bit Supreme just because my way of going about this is really different from other fashion brands. I’m going to completely revamp “street wear”.
Where and when did you learn graphic design?
I did 3 years at a community college for graphic designing which wasn’t even on my agenda really, I was just trying to fill in classes while really focusing on the photography class. Mr. Han real dude taught me everything I know about Photoshop.
You have also designed tour merch for different artists. Is this a creative lane that you would like to continue to make a push in? Who is your dream artist to make merch for?
Yeah, my last one was with 30 Glizzy from Glizzy Gang. I do want to continue with that in the future but it has to happen naturally. I don’t want people thinking I just make tour merch cause it’s far from it. My mind is just always on astronaut status so I’ll be thinking of designs of shit I shouldn’t even be focusing on but I’d have to get out the design just so I don’t forget my thoughts. That shit be stressing me out forgetting lol. My dream artists to make merch for are Kid Cudi, Johnny Cinco, and Max B. I’d also want to make something for Youngboy – that Jordan street shooter logo concept is so dope to me yet simple as fuck. Simplicity always wins.
It seems that you keep it local when shooting lookbooks and things of that nature, why is that? How do you choose models for your clothing?
Less Friends More Bandz bro lol. I like to keep everything within the circle of who I associate with unless I have a certain look where only a certain person can complete the look for me and that’s where I reach out to close friends like Byron Rodriguez – the kid is always down to prosper.
It seems that your brand is locally driven in terms of how you have remained loyal to the people around you. Is having that appeal a goal of yours or did it just happen naturally?
It happened naturally for the best. Less Friends More Bandz is what I was going through 2-3 years ago, so when I re-released the slogan again under my official brand name GAS, a lot of people were just now experiencing this moment and I knew I had to capitalize on it in every way possible and reach a new level of crown when it comes to streetwear.
One of the aspects that makes your clothing special is the fact that even with the local mindset just mentioned, it can still appeal to so many different people of different demographics. How do you go about making designs when you want them to appeal to a larger audience?
You start local then go global. If my city feel it, I know 100,000 other people around the world like us feeling the exact same way, so this is my way of reaching it out to them and letting them know the whole fuck friends get money stage is cool. Who wouldn’t want to protect their energy from negative shit that just tears them down instead of building them up? That why the designs you will see coming this Fall/Winter are all relevant street obstacles that I was able to portray through my clothes so the audience gets why a certain t-shirt design came out the way it did. I’m really serious about bringing the “street” back to “streetwear”.
Where does most of your motivation for designing/making clothes come from?
I don’t really know how to answer that, all jokes aside. My mind works weird, bro. I’m just really aware of the wave which keeps me up to date and if anything, I’m always a step ahead.
One major part of your brand is the packaging, often reflecting the street lifestyle that it represents. How do you think packaging enhances the customer experience and why do you spend so much time on the quality of it?
I want to give people what they paid for, especially if you understand how this brand is carrying itself and the lane I’m trying to shift it in. You have to take care of your customers, so I do it in a way where I’m picking my brain and challenging myself with how creative I can really get with it. For instance, GAS has absolutely nothing to with marijuana, but the way I packaged the shirts, you would’ve thought it was weed related while, in reality, I’m bringing street shit to clothes, selling them as if they were drugs. The take-out idea is another example where the first time I released the shirts, they came packaged in a take-out plate because I know that if you’re in the streets, you’re having take-out 4-5 times out of the week. That’s why I packed the shirt in the take-out box and it came with a fortune cookie and a pre-rolled blunt; It was my first step of setting that tone to my customers letting them know there’s no wack shit over here.
One design I wanted to ask about specifically is the “Million Dollar Baby” shirt. What does that statement mean to you? What does the shirt represent in your life?
I’m really glad I got this question. Earlier I was talking about the “wave” and how aware of it I am. I’m here to say that the wave Max B always been talking shit about is real, and I’m really grateful in life for understanding certain things the way I did and how early I did. The greatest things come from pain; My mother had a Million Dollar Baby in 94′. Not only did I learn my worth, but during that time I was able to protect my energy so nothing got in the way of the plan. That’s why I call myself a Million Dollar Baby.
What are your goals for the brand in the future and how do you plan to expand it as a whole?
My goals right now are to officially enter my Freshman year with this shit and never look back with my bro Banks & Brancos alongside. I’m going to expand naturally; It’s just timing and the way I’m going to display everything and how I’m going to touch people in a way where they feel like they’re wearing a more of uniform & less of an outfit.
GAS has carved its own lane in terms of bringing the “street” back into streetwear, as Rui mentioned. With consistency in his vision and the work ethic to bring his dreams to fruition, I’m confident that the brand will see increased success with each release. I’m excited to see the journey that GAS takes, and I have the utmost respect for anyone paving their own way and remaining loyal to the environment that brought them up along the way. Thank you for the interview, Rui. Here’s to the future.
***”Million Dollar Baby” shirts available now in-store at Banks & Brancos. Also available online for 24 hours!
Connect with GAS: