Speñglish, once a term to describe a blend of Spanish and English vocabulary, is now an emerging label of New York street style. Referred to as an experiential, ‘brandscendental’ concept, the local tee shirt brand is an ideation of funky Latin culture, with colorful logos and witty sayings that include “Green Go”, “Chile Out”, and “Andres Yourself”. Its online store experience is an Afro-Caribbean-Latin vibration through the senses.
Its creator and owner, Simon Guindi Cohen, believes in selling a lifestyle and a wearable tribute to his Latin roots. Originally from Mexico City, Guindi is a resident of New York for 6 years. He left Mexico to study at American University in Washington, DC in 2002. When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Guindi threw a benefit party selling t-shirts that read “Do Your Part”. The benefit buzz led him to sell more than 200 shirts, and ultimately raise $40,000 from students at George Washington University, Georgetown, and American University.
“It was thanks to this experience that I realized my passion was to see people wear my ideas,” says Guindi, 27. “I have a good network of friends from Miami, New York and California and if I put these networks together, I thought maybe I can start selling a cool product.” In 2006, Speñglish was born.
Guindi did not always want to be in fashion. Holding a degree in psychology and philosophy, Cohen worked at Pali Capital Bank for two years after graduation, while still developing the Speñglish label. “I’ve always wanted to spread awareness and for my ideas to be known, and I think fashion is the best way to start. Many things evolve from fashion; it is a wearable art.” Guindi left the financial world to pursue this lifestyle with the intention to positively promote the Latin character living in America and contributing to society.
“The inspiration for Speñglish comes from my life and what I’ve experienced as a Latino in the U.S.” says Guindi. “The whole purpose is to spread awareness through witty humor and smart, textual art. I want the rest of the world to know Latinos are becoming increasingly successful, highly educated, and developing as a powerful influence in society.”
The (ñ) serves as the brand’s flag, logo, and way of life. His shirts are made from 100% Premium Pima Cotton in Peru, and are sold at Atrium, Henry Lehr, First Stop Fashion, Parke and Ronen, Collier, Atikshop, Choices, Blitz Toby Blatt, and Tullah, to name a few. He looks to Nolita as the headquarters of his brand because the neighborhood is packed with Latin flavor and influence.
“New York is a trendsetter,” says the designer. “There is a lot of energy behind the fashion. It’s colorful and a blend of influences from different cultures. It’s always very unique.” Guindi hopes the uniqueness reflected in Speñglish’s vividly colorful mottos will further the understanding of Latin American culture and rid of racism. The brand will always stand for education because it is the only solution to terminate hate and ignorance, Guindi believes.
With over 20,000 shirts sold, Guindi describes the sight of people wearing his label as the best feeling in the world. “It is a reassurance that you are on the right path, doing what you love, and loving what you do!” He is often jet setting between New York, Miami, California and Peru managing the production, sales, and promotion of his brand.
The future of Speñglish is bright. Guindi is in the midst of closing a deal with a company that produces t-shirts out of recycled plastic bottles. By the end of summer, he hopes to have a more complete line of products, and by next year, a store in Soho. He wants Speñglish to become an inspirational New York brand, with no plans to sell internationally.
“I want Speñglish to become a lifestyle brand, a platform for launching products to a much targeted audience, which is anybody who is interested in the Latin American culture,” says Guindi. “It serves to teach people. I hope to affect my wearers in a positive way. I want people to feel connected to the product.”
For more information and to purchase Speñglish-wear, visit http://spenglish.net/Intro.aspx.