When designers BB Velez and Rosa Rodriguez formed their streetwear brand Malcriadas Collective in 2019, part of their five-year plan was to get their clothes into Foot Locker stores. Back in November, they accomplished their goal just two years shy of their deadline.
The ladies of Malcriadas have come a long way since their first drop at an art show in Dallas. But for the design duo, the city and community will always come before anything else.
We catch up with Velez and Rodriguez just over two months after the launch of their Foot Locker partnership, which entails their Estilo Tejano collection being sold at Foot Locker stores in Oak Cliff’s Redbird shopping district, Town East Mall in Mesquite and Parks Mall in Arlington. The two women are hard at work, balancing their day jobs with planning a community event for Valentine’s Day.
During our Zoom chat, Velez and Rodriguez recall their first meeting. They believe their fate was quite literally written in the stars.
“Our dads are both Scorpios, our moms are both Pisces,” says Velez. “So I think that's where we get a lot of inspiration from. Everything we do is just based on what we're going through and what we've been through. All of our designs are really inspired by our culture, how we grew up, and memories from our childhood. Rosa and I have very similar backgrounds. We're both first-generation Mexican Americans. I tell her stories, and she tells me stories and they're, you know, the same. We went through the same thing.”
Over the years, Malcriadas — which in Spanish means something approximating "spoiled girls" — has earned the support of Dallas’ art community. The brand's designs have been sold at events such as the Latino Cultural Center’s Noche De Nostalgia, highlighting the work of local Latin artists, as well as Oak Cliff Brewing Company’s night market, Infierno en el Invierno ("Hell in Winter").
Early last year, Malcriadas collaborated with Jessi Pereira for an event called Mas Cabrxna Que Bonita, a pop-up with music spun by female DJs, showcasing women-owned businesses such as Raiz Plant Studio, Fresa Thrift and Tattoos By Sushi. At this time, the ladies of Malcriadas say support for women within the creative scene is vital.
“I would say being a woman in a streetwear brand is one of the biggest challenges,” says Velez, "just because there are not a lot of women in streetwear brands. I feel like we've had to like work 10 times harder than men have to for this to work.”
But the support of women has been one of the key elements to how the Malcriadas brand has grown, its owners say. The two were discovered by a Foot Locker buyer named Melanie Robins, who found the Malcriadas brand by way of a D Magazine article written by Taylor Crumpton.
“When we first got [the email], we actually thought it was fraud,” Rodriguez says of Foot Locker's interest in the brand. “We were like, ‘OK, somebody's trying to get into our email, whatever.’ But we happened to look her up on LinkedIn and, no, it was real. And that just goes back to us really being appreciative of women looking out for women.”
The Estilos Tejano collection comprises crewneck sweatshirts, fleece joggers, a home-team jersey, T-shirts, and a “Tio hat,” which resembles something your uncle might wear to your family’s carne asada.
During the launch event, several members of the local arts scene showed up at a Foot Locker store in Dallas to support the ladies and buy pieces from their collection. This type of collaborative energy is exactly what the Malcriadas owners want to encourage with their brand, especially as streetwear is quickly becoming part of high-fashion inventories.
“All of our stuff is very collaborative,” says Rodriguez. “Everybody talks about New York, everybody talks about L.A., which I mean, are great, they have great art scenes. But Dallas has talented people. So that's definitely what we want.”
This month, Velez and Rodriguez will hold the second iteration of their Valentine’s Day dance on Feb. 10 at Top Ten Records, where they will sell their collections and dance the night away with friends. For them, it all comes down to elevating the community they love, which returns the sentiment tenfold.
“We get messages from people in the city, being like, ‘Oh, I saw your shirt at the store. This girl was wearing it,'" says Velez. "I think it's really cool that people are just as excited as we are to see something like that in Dallas. We’re just very thankful for our community, and hopefully, they feel that we support them as well.”