I first found out about BUSOG clothing from co-workers. I saw some people wearing shirts and hats with Panda Sal on them, for those of you not familiar with BUSOG, Panda Sal is the mascot. He’s a panda, that enjoys eating, hanging out, and being a rad dude. Darwin is the creator/CEO of the company, and when I met him I immediately thought he was one of the nicest down to Earth dudes I’ve ever met. I was super stoked that I liked his brand, because it would have sucked to tell such an awesome dude that I didn’t like his stuff. He’s also a pretty interesting guy to talk to…so with the launch of some new designs, I figured we could have a chat and get to know him a little better.
OOPM: First off, what does Busog mean?
Darwin: Busog means full in Tagalog. For people in America it’s better known as stuffed or food coma.
OOPM: Why did you choose that name?
Darwin: Busog has a very deep culture meaning to me as a Filipino.. actually a lot cultures have some similar too where hosts of a party or any guests would provide food and drink to their guests. By providing for them , they’re satisfied knowing that they were able to fill their hunger or need. It’s a double satisfaction type of thing.
OOPM: So, tell us a little about yourself. What does Darwin like to do? What makes him ticks him off?
Darwin: Im an only child of two very loving and caring parents who would do anything for me.. no i’m not spoiled.. ok maybe a little.. but i’m not a brat. I love roaming around the streets of New York on my own and just observing everything around me. I love playing basketball and all kinds of sports for that matter. I’m a pretty competitive guy no matter what it comes to but i’m a sport and I try my best to play fair. Hmm what ticks me off …. people who disrespect other people or animals for that matter, I hate to see stuff like that and good thing i’m smart enough not to intervene or else someone could get hurt! I also hate fakes, people who say they will do something and just don’t follow through, there are doers in this world and just sayers.. too many sayers but they don’t do much jibber jabber and it doesn’t lead to anything .
OOPM: What did you do before Busog?
Darwin: Before Busog I was an avid film editor and media manager. I also did mortgage brokering and real estate rentals in Manhattan. I was damn good at all of those but I think all of those jobs have helped me develop into the machine I am today.. lol.
OOPM: What inspired you to start your own company?
Darwin: I was always a big fan of fashion and always wanted things different from what everyone else had.. whether or not it was expensive, in a vintage shop, something i found in the basement from when i was in 8th grade.. yeah i guess i didn’t grow much cuz it still kind of fits. I also wanted to not to have to report to anyone any more, it’s so much less pressure but at the same time you need to discipline yourself to achieve your goals.
OOPM: Why apparel?
Hmmmm well it’s like an artist seeing your stuff on a website, in a gallery, in a magazine… with apparel. Your ideas formed into art can be worn by people all over the world! Such a great feeling seeing others enjoy wearing your stuff and doesn’t hurt at all to see people like Spike Lee, Lil Jon , Iman Shumpert and others enjoying the designs as well. By the way.. i never paid any of these people to wear my stuff, and I know they get mauled with free stuff every second and to be hand picked and worn by these people is a true blessing!
OOPM: Are there any designers/artists that influence you or that you look forward to seeing work from?
Darwin: Hmm…honestly if you asked me to name an artist, I probably couldn’t…I kind of develop or combine weird imagery from my past and what i see in the city and then bam.. I start writing it down and trying to figure out what design can be made from it. I know it’s kind of lame but at the same time maybe it’s good so that it’s more original that way.
OOPM: New York seems to be one of hubs, or arguably the hub, for fashion. What is it like operating here?
Darwin: Intense especially since I do a lot of the leg work on my own, and that goes from networking at events, to vending at street fairs or music show to buying blank shirts and dropping them off at my screen printers then picking it up then getting the tags stitched on then picking it up and then bringing it back to my warehouse.. my basement and then packing it up for shipment. Trains save a lot of money but I know but i’m sure all the carrying hasn’t saved my back. So far it’s all good though it’s not like I’m getting 100 orders a day so I can manage. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to concentrate or just the design worn and the quality control, I think that’s super important for me.
OOPM: What was Busog like in the beginning?
Darwin: Haa BUSOG in the beginning was like a hype in my head and I was like.. this is fun.. let’s see where this goes. The first time i sold at a dance event where The Beat Freaks & Quest Crew wore some of my stuff was amazing. I started my own small booth in the corner and kiddies were coming through, although I did get some kid who asked if Quest Crew would be selling shirts and so he asked to return the shirt he bought from me and I was like “sure” with an empty face. It’s all good though.. wasn’t gonna take some teenie boppers money.. it just wasn’t right!
OOPM: Do you ever look back and think, “I can’t believe I did that?”
Darwin: Yes of course, there are a lot of things that make me think that but right now I can say I’m happy with where it’s at…I believe it’s at a good pace.
OOPM: Do you ever think about what you’ll say that about in 10-15 years?
Darwin: Nope not yet.. and I know if i can withstand that time with the brand, I’m sure i’ll have a book to write about it. Like I said it’s all about persistence.. living pay check to pay check… selling things like your saved Jordans and other collectibles or even your computer just to get a shirt run done… it’s so hard to do but there’s always a reason and a way to get around these type of situations.. you’ve gotta see the finish line whether or not it’s near or far.. you’ve gotta have some vision of it.
OOPM: You have a great product, and I know you stand by it, but what was the first time you were like, “whoa, my shit, is the shit”?
Darwin: Haa… well when it was on Glee and then I realized that I was really the only logo brand ever by featured.. although not mentioned on the show. They paid me for 3 custom designs for Mercedes and when people were like .. WTF Panda SAL on Glee? I think that made me realize wow I have something going here. The idea had also for the Pacquaio street fighter character was perceived by some as the best tribute to the world champion. And of course the Michael Jackson tribute piece I had was by far the most iconic for me especially since it catches eyes left and write and worn by some highly known people such as Spike Lee. My first thought with that shirt was … hmm most of my audience and people who wear my shirt are dancers…how can I pay tribute to MJ and dance.. there were too many with just a picture of MJ dancing or his glove or his shoes or his hat…so I was like let’s arrange his dance moves in a collage…then it became his hair and then…you see the rest !
OOPM: Anyone who has met you, knows you are a super approachable and humble guy. Do you feel you meet a lot of people like yourself in this industry, or are there a lot of jerks out there?
Darwin: Haa… honestly I really do think there are a lot of jerks out there. Sorry to say but I try to stay true to who I am and how I grew up and I have a great family and supporting cast for that. Too many people like to bad mouth and call others names and then try to act normal like they’re your buddy. I mean don’t get be wrong … Golden Rule says do unto others what you would have them do to you , so every now and then that comes true for them ! lol. Lately though I’ve met some very nice people.. although I don’t judge a book by a cover until I flip through the pages so I can’t say much yet.
OOPM: Who is your favorite designer right now?
Darwin: I’d have to say Marc Jacobs and other brands like 10 Deep and Wesc because they come up with originality and great quality, great cuts and custom clothes
OOPM: What is your favorite sneaker?
Darwin: Once upon a time i was obsessed with Nike Terminators and now into the Lebron 9 fad but I believe it’s just because I’m getting back into playing basketball. Would love to one day custom design some Nike Terminators! Don’t worry… “I’ll Be Back” to get these done!
OOPM: Favorite pizza topping.
Darwin: Mushroom, sausage and black olives
OOPM: What is in your pockets right now?
Darwin: My custom made Busog wallet made out of purple duct tape, my temporary gym pass to 92Y , my iPhone 4 because i’m not due for an upgrade to the 4s yet.. some coins and a memorial prayer card that was given at my grandmas wake because she was one of the biggest inspirations of my life and I pray the prayer she taught me everytime I get the chance..