For Çedouze founder Guillermo Juarez, wearing and designing clothes was about finding a sense of wholeness. To begin with, there is the name of his label. “Çe” stands for “creative expression,” while “twelve” refers to the number 12, which Juarez describes as “a number of completeness.” There is also the circular shape of the carnations included in his designs, which are symbols of wholeness and “holiness”.
Juarez began designing pieces in 2015 as a hobby, exploring how he could create clothes that were “more of a work of art that you can wear” rather than an everyday item.
“I get all my ideas from God,” he says. When he sits down to draw a picture, he turns to a higher being for ideas.
In 2015, he started posting photos of his clothing designs on Instagram. Although he didn’t initially intend to use the platform to become a designer in his own right, he was surprised by the number of likes his photos received. It felt like an “affirmation of the universe”.
“Once I started experimenting with clothes, expressing my creativity through clothes, it felt like home,” Juarez says. “I just felt like that was what I had to do.”
Born in Guadalajara, Juarez moved to Los Angeles when he was 6 years old. He grew up in an immigrant family; his parents created their own opportunities in a new country and motivated him to do the same.
As a child in South Gate, Juarez focused on his Chicano roots. He liked hip-hop and baggy clothes, oldies and lowriders. He drew drawings, wrote poetry and made beats to express himself – but these mediums did not capture his need for expression as fully as design.
Çedouze, he says, is about “opening more doors and opportunities to all of our people of color whose voices have yet to be heard enough.”
The Latinx style and lowrider culture were not always embraced. In 2019, Juarez began thinking about her next collection, specifically focusing on eyelets as part of the look. He says a year later he began to notice a change: Lowrider and Chicano culture was seen as “more like art.”
“Before, you didn’t notice it as much as now,” Juarez said. Baggy clothing has been exploited as high fashion this year – a recent Vogue article called baggy clothing an official summer trend, and a Zoe Report article offered advice on “how to style baggy clothing for a effortless look”. Fashion elements normally used to stereotype and criticize black and brown communities seem to be quickly adopted when they appear on the catwalks or videos of TikTok influencers.
But Juarez’s designs are rooted in a sense of place. The “overdone look” has a lot to do with LA fashion, history and music, which the designer calls his “biggest foundation.”
“There’s no other city like LA,” Juarez says. “LA is the place, the home, of [this idea that] you can be whoever you want to be, you can do whatever you want without anyone telling you otherwise. The freedom that LA has, especially with the artistic community… I wanted to use that as inspiration.
Juarez is currently working from his home studio, a garage he transformed during the pandemic. He painted all the walls white, for the photographs, and embraced the idea of finding a creative routine at home, at a time when many of us stayed indoors. His house is about half an hour from the Fashion District, so he can easily gather materials from the area when he needs them.
“This is my lab. This is where I usually start creating – from idea to execution, including photography,” says Juarez. “It’s also where I work on all my pieces. My little garage workshop square is where every piece originates.
Once Juarez has finished designing a piece – like a long black work shirt with a front zip or a white long-sleeved t-shirt, both with the brand’s signature eyelets — he reaches out to friends and models on Instagram who match his vision . Model Cecilia Alvarez Blackwell, however, took the initiative. As someone equally interested in big, oversized fashion pieces and lowrider culture, Blackwell emailed Juarez in April, unsure if she’d ever get a response. Shortly after, she arrived at his studio to have a fitting and, later, a photo shoot with him.
“When I was with Guillermo and we worked together, I was very pleasantly surprised that we could get to know each other,” Blackwell says. “He made it very clear, a million times, that we were going to work together – he didn’t feel like he was doing me a favor. A lot of times people act pretentious, and that’s not at all what Guillermo transmitted.
In the black and white images, Blackwell sports a cropped white tank top and large hoop earrings that echo the eyelet shapes of the baggy pants she wears. Her hair is slicked back and her eyebrows and lips are bold. In the latest photo from an Instagram carousel, Blackwell is sitting topless, looking directly at the camera. Every crease along the pants she wears is sharp and striking, with light and shadow emphasizing the drama of the garment.
A recent series of color photos posted on Instagram show model José Hernandez outdoors wearing high-waisted baggy jeans, paired with a white tank top with an eyelet in the middle. He wears large hoop earrings and sports a thick mustache, a deliberate blend of historically masculine and feminine signifiers. In her own modeling experience, Blackwell says she’s noticed that with Çedouze’s designs, “you’re able to explore things outside of gender.”
“I like to incorporate that feminine and masculine balance. I’ve learned that when we’re in balance, we’re whole,” Juarez says. “We’re whole. … My pieces aren’t made just for men or women. They are made for everyone.
Eva Recinos is an arts and culture journalist and non-fiction writer born and raised in Los Angeles. She runs a free newsletter for creatives called Notes From Eva.
More Image stories