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Born Out of Mexican American Nostalgia, Streetwear Line ‘Paisa Boys’ Brought OXXO to L.A. for a Day

1:38 PM PST on February 16, 2021

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] street fashion pop-up in MidCity inspired by a quintessential Mexican convenience store selling L.A. foo-designed clothes of the highest quality might be the most peak L.A. moment in 2021 yet.  

If you grew up traveling to Mexico to visit your extended family and have vivid memories of stopping at OXXO to buy Sabritas, Gansitos, and caguamas (a 32-ounce jug of beer legally, as an 18-year-old). You might have made an erratic U-turn when you caught a glimpse of the iconic logo on a shop as you drove down West on Washington Blvd. 

For one day only, the atole-colored oval-shaped puffy print logo adorned T-shirts and Canvas tote bags by Paisa Boys, a streetwear clothing brand inspired by their Mexican roots. 

Caguamas are sold separately. 

Paisa Boys fans lining up to buy the 'imported goods' from Paisa Boys. Photos by Ulysses Villa for L.A. Taco.

Joey Barba and Javier Bandera are the creative minds behind Paisa Boys, who are pulling from their Mexican American nostalgia to create some of the most hyped clothing among the sons and daughters of Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles. Their recent pop-up exported their favorite convenience store and brought it to life in Los Angeles.

“I think people have an image in their head of Mexican stuff is going to be cheap. It's gonna be Virgin Mary's on cheap T-shirts, and our main goal is to really elevate what you think a Mexican brand should be.”

“It's something familiar, you know, it's nice to be able to come and see, even if it's not the real store to be able to bring a part of Mexico to people,” said Bandera. Beyond selling T-shirts, Paisa Boys are working to rechristen what it means to be a Mexican American-owned brand by delivering well-made garments.

The Paisa Boys pop-up featured a taquería-style window where fans safely ordered their clothes. Photos by Ulysses Villa for L.A. Taco.

“I think people have an image in their head of Mexican stuff is going to be cheap. It's gonna be Virgin Mary's on cheap T-shirts, and our main goal is to really elevate what you think a Mexican brand should be,” said Barba. 

A tell-tale sign that the Paisa Boys are scoring on their goal is the line wrapped around the block of people waiting to buy merch. “I love their branding, especially the agenda like the taquería was fire, like, come and go still open for business, remarkable idea,” said Lex, when explaining the window take-out window to appear like you're ordering food when in fact it's merch.

The Paisa Boys intentionally marketed their pop-up as a one-stop-shop to avoid the spread of COVID-19 while still embodying the atmosphere of a backyard kickback with corridos blasting from the trunk of a 2006 Chevy Silverado. “We were mindful to not bring a taco truck or anything that would encourage people to hang out. We love to do that. But right now, I want to make sure it's as safe as it can be,” said Bandera. 

OXXO is a way of life in Mexico; it's hard not to champion it. 

It's OK to have never been in an OXXO to understand the significance because people like Nick Castillon, who is Mexican, have never stepped foot inside an OXXO but explains that he would like to one day when it's safe to travel.

The Paisa Boys OXXO T-shirt proudly being held up by a customer. Photos by Ulysses Villa for L.A. Taco.

“I just love the culture, you know, and yeah, I've never been out there. So, I mean, I really want to go to experience everything, you know," said Castillon.

OXXO is a way of life in Mexico; it's hard not to champion it. 

“Every time we go to Mexico, that's what you see, so it brings back memories,” said Javier Salcido. Salcido explains the snacks sold in Mexico are better than in the U.S. because their twist on spice flavors go the extra mile to quell your cravings. 

Their well-made streetwear is a testament to the looming spending power found in the coming-of-aging demographic of L.A. foos.

Like many others, Salcido has their favorite item that reminds them of a time before COVID allowing them to retreat to a positive memory that knows no borders. “I would always go with my grandpa. He will go get it his caguama, and then I go get with my hot Cheetos with cheese. That was always cool during the summer," said Alma Medina.

The Paisa Boys are privy to what Mexicans in L.A. feel because they also have stories of their own that match others. 

"I feel like it's a representation of, we have almost like a dual identity. We might not be Mexican citizens; you might have been born here. But their traditions are so strong. We feel like we're just as Mexican sometimes,” said Barba.

Their well-made streetwear is a testament to the looming spending power found in the coming-of-aging demographic of L.A. foos. A similar demographic has made the L.A. Mexican American-based comedy account @FoosGoneWild blow up to 1.2 million followers and quickly grow.  

Further adding that OXXO was just one idea out of a slew of others that will be coming down the pipeline this year, and the Paisa Boys don't plan on taking their foot off the gas. They have built a loyal following upon launching in 2017 for their one-off releases of T-shirts, hoodies, and sweatpants that celebrate L.A.-Mexico motifs. Many are inspired by the decals that proudly ride on the back of pickup trucks all over southern California. Other designs of theirs feature provocative political imagery having to do with police or immigration. 

Joey Barba and Javier Bandera. Photos by Ulysses Villa for L.A. Taco.

"OXXO, you know, that's, that's just a small idea about when you go to Mexico, but we turned it into a little a thing because there are millions of those [ideas], you know, and we don't plan on stopping on tapping on each and every one of those," said Barba.

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