Javier Trevino from San Antonio makes flashy guayaberas, aprons after years of selling medical supplies

You won’t find flashy guayaberas, dresses and aprons like the ones sold in Javier Trevino’s Divide & Conquer Denim & Leather boutique in any clothing department or store.

Trevino, 40, designs and manufactures the clothes sold in his shop. We are far from the ordinary clothes sold elsewhere.

There’s a $ 210 light pink guayabera with tattooed pin-ups and a capped feline with a cigarette hanging from its mouth above the word “Slick.” There’s a $ 285 “Acid Trip at the Zoo” dress that looks like a graffiti artist went to town on it, with pops of yellow and hot pink mixed with improvised pops of black among bumblebee prints and piercing eyes. . And there’s a $ 158 “California Big Budz” apron covered in designs of different colored marijuana plants.

“I can look at the fabrics and I can literally see them finished,” Trevino said. “This is the key to my success, man.”

Trevino moved Divide & Conquer to 110 Broadway from South Presa Street in November. On a recent visit, the shelves thinned out, which he attributed to an abbreviated Fiesta that drew in buyers. In an effort to replenish the inventory, he tries to hire two seamstresses to supplement the two he already employs. He has just acquired two industrial sewing machines, including a 35-year-old German-made Pfaff which he bought for $ 1,000.

Trevino attended the University of the Incarnate Word, where he studied fashion before turning to the arts of communication. He believed that becoming a TV news anchor would be a more practical and achievable occupation than that of a fashion designer.

“Never in a million years did I think I would be a fashion designer,” he said.

His funky store features various paintings he sells for artist friends, as well as novelty items like a Lone Star Beer clock, boxing gloves, and a stop sign. There’s even a Royal Enfield motorcycle parked in his office, an accessory for the leather and denim jackets he sells.

Trevino recently spoke about how he got back into the fashion world, how Divide & Conquer overcame the pandemic and its expansion plans. The following has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Question: Are you from San Antonio?

A: Yes. I graduated from Churchill High School. Graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word in 2006. This is where I studied fashion. I went from fashion merchandising to communication arts. I graduated in audiovisual journalism. Then I was recruited by a small medical company called Discus Dental. They mainly focused on dental equipment. As soon as I left university, I was recruited by them. Their local office was on Isom Road. They decided to close this office after a year of working there. The company moved me to Los Angeles. The parent company was then acquired by Philips Oral Healthcare. I became the Los Angles medical device representative for Philips. I sold medical supplies for a good six years.

Question: At one point you decided to make aprons, right?

A: I started making aprons for fun in 2010. I would make aprons from scratch, then knock on restaurant doors. Manhattan Beach, Culver City, Playa Vista, kinda where the silver towns were and sold aprons. In 2011 or 2012, the company decided to move its headquarters from Playa Vista to Stanford. They offered me a job. I didn’t want to go. They gave me a nice severance package. I took the opportunity to create a sole proprietorship. I started to file my logo.

My money was in place. I think I got $ 20,000 for my severance package. I came back here in 2013. It was back when the Pearl was barely going up there. My brother, who is a big food blogger, he was like, come sell your aprons. So I did that. After knocking on the doors of Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach, coming here was like nothing. It wasn’t as intimidating because I had done it there. The restaurants here were super responsive. They were awesome. We started selling aprons from the start with great restaurants here in town. It was the start of everything. I make aprons for bars, hotels, restaurants. We have them in Moscow, Spain, Canada.

Question: How did you come up with the idea of ​​making aprons?

A: I didn’t want to be in the restaurant business, but I wanted to be in the restaurant business – if that makes sense. I didn’t want to work until 3 or 4 in the morning, but I still liked the restaurant environment.

Question: Your website mentions that you have had a variety of jobs in the restaurant industry: washing dishes, commuting, cooking, and serving as a bar.

A: Twenty-four years. I just quit the bartender in 2019.

Question: When did you make the transition from strict apron manufacturing to clothing manufacturing?

A: Eight years ago. My grandfather wore guayaberas all his life. I don’t have a memory in my head when he wasn’t wearing guayaberas.

My seamstress is a master seamstress. She’s from Mexico. If you know anything about tailoring, the master dressmaker is like the Bruce Lee of karate. You are a 12th degree black belt. It’s like that with sewing. When it comes to a master seamstress, there are probably only a handful in San Antonio. I asked him, can we do them? She said of course let’s try. Brother, it just took off.

The owner of this building – that’s why I’m in this space here – is one of my clients. We take care of the movers and shakers. I have judges on my client list. I have a lot of defense lawyers on my client list. We have developers on our client list. We make guayaberas for some of San Antonio’s top 25%, and the reason is quality. Guayabera touch-ups are always free, even buttons. You lose weight on the road, bring it back to me – four months, six months, 12 months – I’ll take it for free.

Question: How were you able to finance the start-up of your business?

A: My original store only sold guayaberas, aprons and worked at the bar three nights a week.

Question: Where do you find inspiration for your creations?

A: First of all, you must realize that I am designing every three weeks. It’s a company. It is not seasonal. We make clothes for the worker. We are not doing anything new. We do things the old fashioned way, we make them from scratch. We tailor, we measure people. But I design new clothes every three weeks, and it’s been that way for seven and a half, eight years. This means that I buy new fabrics every two weeks. It takes me about two days to draw everything. This takes lots of time.

But designing new clothes every three weeks requires a lot of me. It’s a lot of work. To answer your question, my inspiration: I have to go back to California twice a year. I used to go back for fabrics, but now I’m going back – and haven’t been since COVID, but I’m going back in three weeks. I must be at the water’s edge. Tranquility. When I went to Los Angeles after graduating I didn’t know what I wanted to do. California is what showed me.

What inspires me? That’s all. It’s California. It’s reggae. I listen a lot of music. I listen to a lot of jazz. I also like to listen to Slayer. So it’s a combination of things.

Question: Your creations seem wild, whimsical, daring. How would you describe them?

A: Confident. I want to show you something. What does it say on my business card?

Question: “We bring out the confidence you already have. “

A: We’re big on it. What I mean by that is I do a lot of 4XL, 5XL, tall and tall. Often times these guys don’t have a lot of self-confidence. I firmly believe that everyone is born with it. Our shirts, as you said, are fancy. They are loud. But they are meant to bring a conversation to the individual who is not so frank.

Question: How much of your business does your business compare to your websites, lafoodwhore.com and denimjacketstore.com?

A: Internet would be around 25 to 30 percent. I just shipped guayaberas to Puerto Rico four days ago.

Question: Earlier, you said that you made clothes for the worker.

A: By worker, I did not mean your worker. I apologize. I meant your six-figure worker. I’m not trying to say that we only do for those because we have bartenders and tattoo artists that we take care of. We have a lot of barbers that we take care of. Lots of barbers, in fact. It is the worker. We start at $ 200 a shirt. Our aprons start at $ 140. You know, again, it’s the people who care about how they look.

Question: Your Facebook page says that books are closed for all custom orders until the end of August. Can’t keep up with the demand?

A: It’s because of the new space. In summary, the personalization business is a big part of our business. At the same time, we have to keep the store full. So when we make 25-30 new clothes, in terms of guayaberas and jackets every three weeks, it’s hard to make 25 custom shirts besides the shirts we need to fill the store. During Fiesta, we took a lot of custom orders.

Question: When you say it’s because of the new space, do you mean people come to the store?

A: Brother, they buy six, eight shirts at one time. We just sold eight shirts to a pediatrician in Alabama.

Question: Your Facebook page indicates that you are looking for an investor. Tell me about it.

A: That was some time ago, but yes we still are. My goal is to open another store, two more.

Question: So you are ready to sell part of the company to an investor?

A: I should. I want to open a store in Miami. I want to do guayaberas in Miami.

Question: It’s a bit like the capital of the guayaberas.

A: You come out of the womb and you are in a guayabera. This is where they are at. With our colors, that would be obvious. That’s the goal, to go there. And the second store would be where I started, Los Angeles.

Question: But you’re struggling to keep up with the demand here as a three-person operation.

A: Well, we are hiring. We have just received two new machines. We are now actively recruiting two new seamstresses to work here in the store. We have a studio in Topperwein where we do everything now. I want to have it where you can watch shirts and jackets being made.

Question: How did you experience the pandemic?

A: When the stay at home, work orders fell in March 2020 and only essential businesses could stay open, I asked my lawyer, how do I become essential? He said, “Make masks. You have all the fabrics, don’t you? I said, yeah, we have a ton of fabrics. We have made approximately 2,400 masks. They were $ 22.50 each. If you bought five or more, they cost $ 20 each.

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