When we think about the famous fashion meccas of the world— even in streetwear— we tend to think of the big four: NYC, Paris, Milan, and Los Angeles.
While the latter on the list conjures up visions of big-time designers outfitting Hollywood’s glitterati with one-of-a-kind red carpet attire; few would ever include South Central, LA in that vision.
But that’s exactly where Kacey Lynch chose as a location for the headquarters for his label, Bricks & Wood. Born and raised in South Central, Lynch began the brand as a tribute to that all-too-misunderstood and ever-changing section of Los Angeles. Known to most via the hip-hop, movies and news coverage that emanated from there in the 1990s. Bricks & Wood offers up a positive and proactive business model that dispels the general stereotypes of the area, and instead promotes community, camaraderie and the local economy.
For Kacey Lynch, “friends and family” means something different. In the sneaker industry, the phrase seems to ring out more like a term of endearment for seeding celebrities and industry VIPs. For Kacey Lynch, the phrase is much more literal—those are the people who help run his company. With high-quality goods conceived and constructed in South Central, Lynch’s label is a love letter to his hometown and he’s doing all he can to change the fashion narrative and the people and place who profit from it.
Tell me about your relationship with South Central and how it has grown or changed over time.
My relationship with South Central is everything. It’s the essence of who I am today as a human. Growing up here I had a very balanced experience because of all the moving pieces this community has to offer but in the end it’s home. The good, the bad, & the ugly.
I’m sure a lot of people’s perceptions about it are from movies, songs and news coverage. Did South Central get a bad rap, or was it portrayed truthfully? What are some misconceptions about the neighborhood?
I think the issue about it’s portrayal is that it’s only seen one way. Don’t get me wrong, a lot if not all of the things you see on TV are probably relatable, but there’s a lot of beautiful bubbling things happening in the city that don’t get the shine it properly deserves. There’s criminal activity but there’s also a genuine love for each other that I feel over arches the things that are publicly portrayed.
How has it changed over time? How have you seen it change/progress over the decades?
It’s changed dramatically. I think at one point there was a huge separation of neighborhoods within South Central but now there’s a lot of mutual energy being exchanged. Unity is in progress. Can’t say it’ll ever be perfect or anything of the sort but definitely progressing in the right direction.
How did you get into streetwear fashion? I read somewhere that your dad was a big influence. Did you work at other labels before B&W?
My dad definitely was my introduction to this whole industry. I was just being a kid playing ball before all of this. When basketball didn't workout my plan B was fashion of some sort because of the natural hand me down my dad put in me. He never forced any of this upon me. As I got older & realized ball wasn’t going to work out as I imagined, I looked towards clothing to be my secondary outlet. With that being said I’ve worked & interned for brands like Black Scale, Brooklyn Projects, Hall of Fame, The Hundreds, Creative Recreation & my last gig ever was at Portland based leather goods company Tanner Goods in DTLA.
What would you say B&Ws mission statement is? What defines your brand and aesthetic?
When we say a "South Central company” the meaning behind it is us identifying with self. Meaning to start with self & be very specific with your approach. Granted not everyone on my team is from South Central whatsoever, but I make sure to reiterate to them to be the most authentic version of themselves. The South Central part is the origin base of the company because that’s where I am from. Nothing is more authentic than you being the truest form of self. So whatever that results in, that’s how you keep authenticity.
It seems like friends and family means something different at B&W, how do those relationships work their ways into the brand?
It’s setting the tone for what it should feel & look like on any level of the company’s presentation. Even in private or behind the scenes, we make sure the environment that is built within feels exactly like family linkin up & having the pleasure to work together. I love the team I have built. We all hangout & party in a real way even outside of work. These relationships work because I truly see them as humans first before I see them as employees. I actually care about them & their livelihoods & I feel like when they are under my jurisdiction I have to take care of them & that’s what I do
Did you have any “aha” moments when you knew you were headed in the right direction and that it was going to work?
Never because at the end of the day I don’t know what I am doing. Not literally, but everything is a risk. Especially when you’re presenting new ideas. Even if I’m confident of an idea I humbly am thankful that it works. You gotta count your blessings. Brands come & go.
I know you support and raise up South Central. Would you say that South Central supports its local businesses as well?
100%, especially in the culinary industry. I think what I am doing & where I am trying to take it is a bit different than what the community is accustomed to. There’s support here of course but I see my role as me sharing information & enhancing the mindset from what we are accustomed to. I am blessed to have different experiences from what the norm is so I’m not afraid to be the one to share new information or experiences. Not that I am better than anyone or anything within the community at all because I too was once that person but there’s definitely more & the more I learn the more I plan to share.
How important is giving back to the community for you, and for Bricks & Wood?
It’s step one. We may not give clothes back all the time or donate money all the time but I’ll always make sure that I give back insight & information. I can give you a million dollars with no information on how you should save or spend it or I can give you infrastructure on how to get a million dollars so you can make ten. A dramatic & unrealistic scenario but you know what I mean haha.
Has there been a history of giving back to the community in South Central. When people were getting big in the 90s, in hip hop and what have you, did they give back, was it more like a get big and move away type of relationship?
You give back by building opportunity & you build opportunity by doing what YOU need to do in order to obtain that level of success & access. I give back to South Central everyday. I work on a new project for Bricks & Wood because the goals & plans I have for the future are all within these processes.
“Bricks” and “wood” are two types of building materials? How does it relate, and have you ever considered a brick & mortar location?
When I came up with the name I definitely wanted it all to make sense. The name worked so well for all different types of business operations which was the most appealing about it. I def see myself opening up a brick & mortar one day & I also see myself using the worldplay of it also.
You pride yourself on high quality cut & sew items. How much effort goes into the search for the right materials. Is it forever a work in progress?
Definitely forever a work in progress. I say that because when I travel to new places I come across materials I have never seen before & or can only get in specific places. That's my favorite part about designing. Finding unique fabrics, bringing them home & making a range of different garments with them.
You have put a light on other sources like the “Support Your Homies” collection. Is this what you mean by “We are more than a brand, we are a platform for the voices unheard.” Do you think fashion has a responsibility to speak for the community?
Exactly what we mean. SYH was a collaboration with URLA. That’s my younger homie Cody & we used the brand’s leverage to expand that moment together. I still do to this day but I had a run on my IG where I recognized my influence & used that to promote other homies brands & used that as a hashtag. From what I heard me doing that helped a lot of people get a fresh pair of eyes on their work so Codyb approached me with the idea & it was a no brainer. Bricks & Wood is definitely my way of speaking to the audience. It’s storytelling through product. That’ll always be the motto & brand’s ethos no matter what we do. If we can’t tell a genuine story alongside a good idea I promise you that we will sit on that idea until we do. Most of the time it’s story then ideas but in some rare occasions we have good ideas that are just good ideas without substance. We always look for connective tissue.
Tell me about the inspiration for your recent New Balance. Was it your first sneaker release?
This was my first shoe & the inspiration behind the shoe was to serve as a brochure. We wanted to introduce LA to New Balance & New Balance to LA. Since I am from here I wanted to highlight a historical community landmark to give some history because if you think of it like a tour the person narrating the tour is just giving you the history of the location & then of course what it is currently. We took a new silhouette & gave it a historical story.
What bothers you about fashion? Can you avoid them or are they necessary evils?
At this point in my life I truly am not bothered by anything fashion has to offer. It’s all subjective at the end of the day so I just decide to let things be what they are & serve whom they are supposed to serve. There’s room for all of us regardless if I like a brand or not. I used to shop at H&M at one point in my life so that understanding alone helps me understand that all the levels of fashion are needed & necessary. So to answer your question, necessary evil. If there’s one thing I don’t like about fashion that we may all be hypocritical to is the sustainability part but if we are really trying to be sustainable then fashion should be one of your last career choices. I have become a lot more self conscious about that though, I am actively making some internal changes as well to somewhat fix these issues.
Are there garments or items you haven’t made that you still want to?
Yes, I would love to design & collaborate with a denim company on a pair of Japanese denim.
Who are some other brands or companies that top your collaborative wishlist?
LA Lakers, Stussy, almost any furniture company, A Kind of Guise, Vans, a water bottle company, Jeep, Porsche, etc. This list also continues.