Out of Los Angeles, California comes a man with a mission. Not only is Vince Pena’s clothing line, Cali Vibes Clothing, what he considers his very own band, with each design like that of a song, but he appears to be a humble business man with a main goal – to support the local reggae scene.
One may notice shirts being worn around local reggae scenes which sport the infamous slogan, “Support Local Reggae.” Well, that is Pena’s mission – to get the word out to support local music, to support the scene and support each other.
Recently, Top Shelf Reggae was able to communicate with Pena about his clothing line, his messages, and his endeavors. Read more to discover the true meaning of “Support Local Reggae”:
Thank you for doing an interview with us on your brand, Cali Vibes Clothing. Your signature, “Support Local Reggae” appears to be our main focus on both your contribution to the reggae scene, as well as inspiration for your brand, so we will be focusing on that.
Please tell us here at Top Shelf Reggae exactly how you contribute to the local reggae scene of Los Angeles where you are based.
My passion for music is deep. Ever since then I was always a huge supporter and one of those fanatic that would go to any shows any day of the week when given a chance. Even when the clothing line was already there, I don't remember asking any of these bands, DJs, promoters that I'm linked up with if I could be on the guest list. Most of the time even when I'm merch’ing and no vendor's fee was necessary, I secretly paid the cover charge. To me “support” also means you pay the entrance, contribute and fund the musicians, and support the people behind it. That $5, $10, $15, $20 cover can surely make a difference. Just like vehicles, they all need that gas in order for them to keep going and move forward.
“I am a bucket full of water and will keep watering them until they all become a tree.”
Why choose “Support Local Reggae”?
The word “local” for me can also mean small, independent, organic and upcoming. Basically people who live and hustle within that criteria that do everything and anything to put the word out there. While most will go for the big name bands, big name artists, big name people, I on the other hand chose to sail that small ship full of dedicated, passionate, up and coming musicians, DJs, artists, promoters. Seeing their progression and the lift that you've given them turning into something good is the reason why Cali Vibes Clothing existed. I am a bucket full of water and will keep watering them until they all become a tree.
Do you support all reggae?
Cali Vibes Clothing can be visible in the roots reggae scene, dancehall, Rub-a-Dub, Hawaiian, Polynesian, Island, the New School, the reggae-rock scene and so forth. The Support Local Reggae theme and campaign is universal. You could be in California, East Coast, West Coast, Philippines, Hawaii, Jamaica or anywhere in the world and it could still apply. So the answer is yes, I support all reggae and all types of music that makes sense to me.
It seems a lot of reggae suggests supporting each other in peace and harmony, and also, its roots from Jamaica? Do you agree with this? If so, how do you incorporate this message in your brand?
From my understanding, the word “Reggae” is more than just music. It is a genre that was built through real life scenarios. It is an expression towards some things. It is conscious and uplifting music. And I believe that peace, unity and respect are some of the key aspects and elements that the word “Reggae” brings to the table.
I consider my clothing line as my band and each of my designs as my songs. It's my way of producing art, music and message through textile paint and threads. Simple and most effective way of voicing out your opinion.
Do you find a lot of reggae bands and promoters uniting to help the scene and give back? Can you give an example from your own personal experience regarding marketing your clothing?
Life is just a cycle, we give, we receive and everyone will benefit. The more people willing to work together, the more it will get better. Just like a team, the more you help each other out the farther the team will move on.
On your website, you list a bunch of local, inspirational bands. Are there any other non-local bands or specific genres who also inspire your designs?
I grew up in the punk scene. One genre of music that had the biggest impact on me. It became a lifestyle for me, even if I don't sport a badge, a patch or a mohawk anymore; punk runs deep in my vein. It pretty much opened a whole lot for me towards music, politics and what is out there in the real world. It connected me to listen to hardcore music, anarcho, crustcore, powerviolence, ska notably the 2 Tone ska, then the crossover, thrash, death, grindcore, black metal, new wave, indie, dub, experimental and the list goes on. Punk was my bridge to reggae music. Some of these genres basically had an influence towards some of my designs to date, but of course reggae is my main ingredient.
Unfortunately, your store at the Puente Hills Mall did not make it, even though it does not necessarily affect your clothing brand, except for the fact that you cannot physically market it in a supposed, high-traffic area. Why do you think this happened? Do you think it’s due to the economy, or perhaps due to having a reggae brand in an area which does not attract too many supporters?
I don't think the phrase “did not make it” is the right term in regards of what happened with the Support Local Reggae Store. Even before I opened up the store, I already knew that there was a possibility it might not last forever. Everything was designed for trial and error. It was a school for me. November, December are usually the busiest months and that is why I pushed to open it right before Thanksgiving of last year. January, February and March are supposed to be the slowest for all business and we saw that. April is the season where everything is supposed to pick up again, but then music festivities and events start around that month too.
Basically, I did what I always wanted to do- work in a music place while wearing short pants, flip flops, taking a break anytime I want, and best of all, just listen to music all day. I had bands and DJs play inside the store and so many good things I was able to feature. So, it was more of doing it and proving to myself that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. Yes it was a short lived, six months to be exact, but I believe we created history there.
In fact, the support was there as online orders were huge and I had people coming all the way from Arizona, San Diego, San Bernardino, LA, OC and places that you wouldn't think these supporters would drive through just to get to see the place. Even when working there only on the weekends, I met a lot of social media supporters. Since we opened the store in mid-November, countless bands, artists and DJs blessed the store with their talent and music. Sadly at the end of the day, and in all aspects of business, money will always be involved, but there is no way that it will affect my passion and things I like to do on the side. Some of these reasons may be why I chose not to extend our lease at Puente Hills Mall, but I am closing one chapter and opening another one soon.
Are there any other outlets you are working with to bring exposure to your brand now?
I've always been merch’ing at shows, concerts, festivals and events even before the store. That's the foundation and roots of this clothing line. I have a few outlets and people who carry the line, e.g. Oahu, Hawaii, San Diego and some parts of Los Angeles. I'm always active on social media sites and anything can be purchased through the website, supportlocalreggae.com.
There you have it, reggae fans, artists, and supporters. Vince Pena is a true supporter, contributor, and business man trying to help reggae communities unite and support each other, while also helping people look good in Cali Vibes Clothing gear. For more information or to check out Cali Vibes Clothing, visit the website or look for the brand on social media outlets or at a show near you.