There’s a lot of bling adorning the hands of LA’s fashion elite. Yet one brand seems to be sweeping over the city and beyond. Celebs such as Gwen Stefani, Brad Pitt, Snoop Dogg, Kat Von D and The Black Keys are proving that Han Cholo is the ultimate streetwear bling to be dripping in. And for a good reason; intricately designed and carefully handcrafted, the Han Cholo brand features statement pieces that appeal to almost all cliques and personalities.
CULT sat down with the mastermind behind the brand, Brandon Schoolhouse, in the Han Cholo HQ and former Beastie Boys studio. Brandon actually started off working for the familiar band, The Beastie Boys, doing everything from publicity to distribution. After working with the Grand Royal label for 8 years and with the support of the Beastie Boys team, he took off to start styling and DJing – (the Han Cholo name comes from Brandon’s DJ persona). His first real collection was born in 2002 during his work as a stylist, where he would hand craft and create custom jewelry pieces for his clients and himself. “I couldn’t find jewelry that I wanted to wear so I just made my own.”
His clients asked what designer/collection the jewelry was from and voila, Han Cholo was born. “I did a lot of research not only with designing, but manufacturing. I was just doing one-offs; now with a company I had to learn the whole process of manufacturing and producing in mass quantities. Luckily I had a lot of great mentors that pointed me in the right direction,” Brandon recalls.
Inspired by fantasy, old modernist architecture, art deco, old sci-fi and horror, the brand really emphasizes individuality and craftsmanship across a broad spectrum of styles. Brandon still attributes his musical roots to the design process of his jewelry – “It points me in a certain direction. It’s a big inspiration – I can listen to a song and envision a piece of jewelry for it. It’s how it all comes together. If I’m in a rock mood I might do something really heavy, like a skull, but if I’m in a light mood I might do something more fantasy or sci-fi.”
In the early days of Han Cholo, there was no such thing as streetwear, really – “it was totally new and fresh. People were like what kind of jewelry is this? Now people get it.” The brand has evolved overtime too. The original and early Han Cholo pieces were exclusively designed in precious metals. After the economy crisis, gold and sterling prices skyrocketed and Brandon was forced to change his game plan. He began to reproduce all of the precious metal pieces in brass – still a quality product but at a more affordable price. The brand still features precious metals in the signature collection and for custom work, but the brass collection has helped make his jewelry coveted amongst the masses.
The new collection ‘Rare & Wild’ is a carry-on from the previous collection that just made its debut at PROJECT in Las Vegas. Brandon describes the line as ‘a cross between modernist and voo-doo’. We can also expect some rad mineral washed graphic tee’s coming out this year.
Here’s a peek at some of the designs we’re lusting over. Start making your wish list!