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EL KARTEL: Vancity Fashion Pioneer

EL KARTEL: Vancity Fashion Pioneer

Looking at the resume that El Kartel has built since its doors opened in 2003 as one of Vancouver’s first purveyors of street culture artifacts. To many, its a go-to spot for sneakers and a unique selection of apparel, while recent seasons have ushered in new contemporary European brands. For me, it was the first spot I found Stussy in the city, cementing El Kartel as a first-mover in my head. For this Vancouver staple boutique, brands have changed, locations have changed, but the vibes have remained the same. We caught up with owner Pablo Zamudio to find out about his creative process and his favourite gear to rock on the daily.

Talk about what your criteria for bringing in a brand to El Kartel.

We are very passionate about what we do at El Kartel, whether it is picking a new brand, finding Artwork to hang on the walls or the music we play at the store.

We picture ourselves wearing the clothes, looking at the artwork and listening to the music. Recently we’ve picked up a couple new brands from Australia and New Zealand. Can’t wait to get them in.

In the past you have sold gear under an El Kartel house line, will we see more of that in the future?

Yes! For sure, we really miss designing and manufacturing El Kartel clothing.

We decided to take a little break when we had to move from Robson to Granville, especially because of the size of the new store. I’m not sure if I should mention this now, but we might be moving in to a new space “The Space of Our Dreams “. If so, we are planning the sickest art shows and collaborating with other brands and reviving the El Kartel clothing brand.

What are your views on what Vancouver offers in terms of brands and boutiques?

I feel that Vancouver is a very small city in a way, but there are enough cool little boutiques out there to pimp everyone up. The problem is people trying to look like every one else and shopping H&M crap, Urban Outfitters etc. I feel Vancouverites need to support more local Independent shops before they go give their dinero to big corporations from outside of Canada.

What basic items do you find yourself wearing frequently?

I’m obsessed with my “NEUW” jeans, I can’t stop wearing them, they are the most comfortable pants I’ve ever had, I have them in 4 colourways, also I’m a big fan of my Converse Chuck Taylors/Classics or John Varvatos.

What is the last concert you attended in Vancouver?

Real concert was Herbie Hancock.  Performance was Egyptian Lover from New York.

– Chris Danforth
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