A collection inspired by a Mexican novelist's fictional airline; another that asks, "What was running like in ancient times?"; a collaborative hat with New Era that references the fabled "rally cap," better known as a baseball cap turned inside out, or, for teams that turn to them when down in the final inning, a distress signal and a stab at shifting the game's momentum.
These varying sources of inspiration act as throughlines for Mexico City-based streetwear brand Hermanos Koumori's collections. Whether it's T-shirts and five panel hats adorned with the Aerolineas Populares logo or pullovers emblazoned with symbolic texts, the label's founders like to lure buyers in with robust editorial campaigns centered around their chosen theme. On the surface level, they're a company dedicated to delivering quality apparel and accessories, but for founders Alejandro Sandler and Alex Leon, Koumori means much more.
"If we just look at it from the outside, Hermanos Koumori is a contemporary streetwear brand based in Mexico City, but for us it is much more than that," Leon says. "We see it as a studio that has the versatility to move through different areas like art, objects, literature and graphic design to name a few. We are passionate about stories and narratives, that is why for each one of our collections we create a fictional universe that helps us with the inspiration behind them."
"At the beginning, we used stories in a very literal way to convey our storytelling. We made the merchandise of the institutions and their uniforms, which was really fun because people got really confused not knowing if these institutions/stories really happened or not," Leon continues. "Today we use them more as a thread that helps us with the creative process, having something to talk about and that the collection as a whole makes sense, being surrounded by artist friends makes us question our actions more and not be so literal."
The pair's passions range from literature and running to modernist movements — specifically The Neo Prehispanic Movement — and championing the artists they surround themselves with. Far more than mere reference points, these interests become integral to every release, threads to be tied together as the brand grows. However, it'll remain rooted in their home city, its co-founders explain. And they're proud to be a brand built on introducing the fruits of their home country — streetwear brands included — to the rest of the world. It helps that their ripstop El Capitán Blazer and matching El Capitán bottoms are, in tandem, one of the most interesting reinterpretations of the suit released this year.
"Without a doubt, Mexico City is a big influence in the project. Living in this monster of a city is wonderful. Its architecture, music and art nurtures us as persons constantly and obviously the project... The city has too much to offer; they say it’s the city with the most museums in the world. We have great restaurants and also something is always happening: events, art shows, concerts, new openings of restaurants and venues," Sandler says. "We love it here and feel really inspired by the people here. We feel like it is about time for everyone to realize how great it is here, and day by day we see more and more tourists coming here and really having the time of their lives. We want to be a brand that represents this city and country, so we always try to give a great first impression."