One might think Mark Rios would have more than enough on his plate as the founder and president of Los Angeles’ notable multidisciplinary architecture and product design firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop Rios from debuting Guillermo, a new capsule collection of men’s shirts, earlier this year.
Named after Rios’ father, the collection is made in L.A. from U.S-based fabrics, and consists of four shirt styles (The Moderno, The Tranquilo, The Bravo, and The Valiente) that pay homage to the Latin-American staple, the guayabera. “It’s not only that the guayabera has this amazing cultural history,” says Rios, explaining why he chose to focus on this piece of apparel. “My dad wore them. Also, I remember seeing them on my family in Mexico any time we would visit. Everyone had one, all with different colors and embroidery; there were even stores that just sold nothing but guayaberas. It was big deal!”
Updated in their own way for the 21st century, all four Guillermo styles are designed with pockets and side zippers. Meanwhile, individual styles come in colors ranging from white and gray to orange and bright blue. “I am a curious person, and I’d been thinking about the transformative quality of architecture, which is another reason why I was so interested in the guayabera,” says Rios. “It was originally a worker’s shirt, but then men started wearing it to go out after work or to formal occasions like weddings. I like the idea that one clothing article can change its function during the course of the day. For me, it’s all about the idea of transformation.”
Since launching the collection (which retails from $175 to $275 and sells on wearguillermo.com), Rios has discovered that men are gravitating towards the simpler styles and more basic colors. “The whites and grays do sell more, since men still remain a little more timid about colors,” he notes. “But we’re finding women are buying the brighter shirts and wearing them with black pants. I did the colors because I wanted to make them spirited and joyous and memorable, and that hasn’t changed!”
For his next collection, due out in February, Rios is planning to add some new, subtle shades, like olive green, as well as tweak the shirts’ fit. And while the distribution channels will remain the same for that capsule, he is hoping to expand them before the end of 2018. “I think I want to go for one more version before I offer these shirts to more retailers,” he says. “I am really learning a lot from this process. This is not a vanity project. I plan to be in this business for a long time. That’s what I want these shirts to be the epitome of quality and beauty.”
One thing that won’t change, however, is the name of the company. “I was hesitant about using my father’s name; it seemed too personal. In fact, what the name of the company would be didn’t even cross my mind until the end of the design process,” he notes. “But the great thing is people seem to be responding to the story as much as the shirt. That authenticity really matters to me. It’s not about just producing a pretty shirt.”