Designer Walton Nunez is no stranger to the worlds of fashion and activism.
Born and raised as an Angeleno of Mexican and Salvadoran decent,
He/They identifies as Latino, and has just launched an innovative capsule streetwear collection and platform entitled BUYPOC inspired by the acronym BIPOC: Black Indigenous People of Color.
Nunez, who has worked in the entertainment industry for over 10 years, has worn several hats in his career. From on-air talent, casting director, art director, and men’s groomer, to now designer. Often the only Person of Color on set, Walton saw an opportunity to start a larger conversation.
His vision quickly developed into a passion project that has amplified the visibility of black and brown artists, chefs, creatives, and businesses around the globe, while introducing some seriously stunning products.
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with the up and coming designer to speak about his latest endeavor, BUYPOC.
What inspired you to create BUYPOC and how did the name come about?
I was inspired to create BUYPOC NYC, because I want to amplify the voices of Black and Brown creatives. Diversity and inclusion is a party where everyone is invited. We strut, we dance, we celebrate with each other, it’s fun.
BIPOC is an acronym for Black Indigenous People of Color. I started seeing this term a lot and I thought why not play on words and create BUYPOC, a streetwear line and platform that encourages all people to buy from commission and collaborate with creatives of color.
Would you consider BUYPOC NYC to be your passion project?
Absolutely it’s my passion project. I’m so happy that what started out as an idea has become a place that is inviting, cool, collaborative. It’s really special because I get to work with friends and have productive conversations. I make cool photos, create graphics that spark conversations. I’m having so much fun with it. I’m glad that I stepped out of my lane and took a chance.
How has your story of being a person of color in fashion and entertainment changed throughout the years or has it at all?
When I first started in fashion and entertainment, I saw very few People of Color behind the scenes or in front of the camera. I’ve seen growth in diversity and representation in narratives being told, for sure. The crews are getting more diverse and we also have more female directors. I love it! It’s inspiring to work on projects that look and feel like the world we live in.
Visibility is a word used heavily in your collection. What is your personal definition of this word and how it connects to BUYPOC?
I use the word visibility because it’s approachable. I like the way it sounds, its poetic structure. I want to use language with BUYPOC that invites. Visibility is the state of being seen; I want to create content and products that reflect the diversity of the world we live in.
Your casting of models for your premiere collection is truly refreshing among any fashion launch or campaign I’ve seen recently. Tell me about your process of choosing the models and how you found them.
Thanks for saying that, I’m really happy with the way our first photoshoot went. I cast a wide net with our casting. I asked friends on social media if they wanted to participate on an inclusive project, or if they knew someone that might want to participate in a fun rooftop photoshoot. The outcome was extraordinary.
We got beautiful organic images of people supporting BUYPOC. Everyone was so happy to be there. One of my favorite photos is a picture of a mother and son. She has a halo of white hair and exudes beauty and grace. She is looking at her son. We captured so much love in these moments with them.
How can one be an ally to their community?
I think listening to people is a great way to let them know you’re an ally, doing research on different causes and what they support. Making donations and getting involved with different causes.
How has 2020 shaped your vision and direction for the brand now and going forward?
2020 was the year of the brand’s inception, when I put the pen to paper so to speak and started laying out the foundation of what I wanted this idea to become. 2020 vastly shaped the brand’s direction because we collectively witnessed how fragile our society can be.
2020 was a fire: We witnessed a lot of destruction, but now there is a clearing in the forest, there is air for new and different ideas to breathe and grow. The year 2020 gave me the downtime to reflect on what is important to me and what I value. Going forward, BUYPOC will attract like-minded people and brands for collaboration, and we will carry messages of empathy, inclusivity, and visibility.
Any tips for upcoming POC designers and creatives?
Yes of course. I’d say take the risk. Don’t let fear or fear of judgment keep you from being creative. Find a community that supports your vision and cultivate those relationships.
Where can people find your collection for purchase?
Lastly, what do you know for sure?
What I know for sure is that I’ve always been happier when I’ve contributed to the conversations I’ve wanted to be a part of.