Reserved Essential is back and better than ever. The clothing brand was founded by Mateo Berry, who traded his fulfilling professional BMX career to pursue his biggest passion to date: fashion. Born and raised in Los Angeles, the fashion designer, entrepreneur, and creative consultant grew up surrounded by the West Coast’s skateboard culture, eventually leading to an interest in visual arts.
He states, “Skating coming up in Carson where I was from, you couldn’t really say you did a trick without film or photos of it. That’s where I got into film and photo, started making my own skate videos.” On the media side, Mateo has worked with the likes of Big Sean, Drake, Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco, and more. After a stint working as a freelance photographer for lifestyle brand BLVCK SCVLE, he relocated to London to pursue his dreams of designing his own clothes. In 2017, Reserved Essential was born.
Most recently, the brand celebrated the launch of their Autumn-Winter collection, which features 52 items themed around BMX biking. Inspired by Beverly Hills BMX Club, the sporty attire is perfect for everyday wear, serving as the perfect cross between streetwear and high-end designer brands. The quality lies in the actual production of the pieces, with handmade fabric sourced in Italy.
Flaunt Mag caught up with Mateo to discuss overcoming obstacles, the significance in the name, current goals, and more!
You said you lost everything in the moving truck at the top of this year. What happened?
So the brand stated last year, we started making our own waves and making a promising future for us. We launched December 12th last year at RSVP Gallery. Had about 700 people in attendance, it was a public event. From there, we ended up falling into a licensing deal which put me into a position where I can fully creative direct instead of trying to ship the packages, be in the warehouse every day, be in the manufacturer every day, go source the fabric myself, etc. Build a structure that helps me focus on the creative side of things.
A month after that, I’m moving and while I’m moving, my moving truck gets stolen. Literally, everything except for my dog and my cars stolen away from me. Art, sneakers, my whole fashion collection, my archive collection, furniture, all the way down to my passport, social security card, everything gone. Had to start a whole new life. Moved into a new place and every week, whatever I could afford. Start with a mattress on the floor, a TV on the floor, just started to rebuild. But simultaneously after signing this licensing deal, it puts me in position. I don’t have my files, my designs, my samples, they’re all gone. At that point, I just had to be positive. I said you know what? I signed a deal and it’s supposed to be a big deal.
What was the deal?
It’s your typical licensing deal, but I kept all intellectual property and creative control. Now, it just helps me with the production side of things and gives me a structure. I inherited distribution, eCommerce logistics, a sales team, and even a design team under me. So I was in a position but had no designs, no files, and no samples. As a creator, you don’t like your own work. Maybe even simultaneously right after you design it sometimes, we’re our biggest critics. With that being said, it put me in a place of depression almost because I had to go re-design stuff I was looking at for over a year, that I’d already designed.
It just wasn’t exciting for me for a second because I said “wait, I’m tired of looking at this. I’ve done this before.” It was tough for me but I kept positive. I just always knew that energy is real. I’m like “you know what? If I stay positive, if I work hard, I can get everything back times 10 just in this year — as long as I do it correctly.” I just got to work and rebuilt the empire. Within eight months, now we’re here again. Full collection. My house is furnished. Things came back together for me. I became the ambassador for two major liquor brands: Avion and Martell.
Is that separate from the brand?
It’s completely separate. It’s been a really good year for Mateo as an individual. I think it all became because I said I’m going to be positive and energy followed me. Because most people probably wouldn’t have bounced back as fast as I could or they wouldn’t take it as calm as I did. The only thing that made it hard for me was the depressing part of just having to redesign all of the pieces. There’s no excitement because I’m not seeing new stuff. I’m remaking old stuff, I’m resampling old stuff that I had in my computer or my harddrive. That was maybe one of the hardest parts, but now I’m here and the brand’s back. It feels great to be back. People have been waiting for it to be back and now I get to give it to them.
What’s the significance in Reserved Essential?
There’s two parts to Mateo. I’m like the introverted extrovert. I know everyone, everyone knows me. I’m out, I’m the ambassador of a brand, etc. But I’m also very reserved, so that’s where the name essentially came from. Then me and my friends, you hear me: I say essentially a lot. When you have essential pieces… I wanted the brand to be timeless. When you build essentials, they’re timeless. That’s why even in this collection, we repurposed some of the original pieces and brought them back because they’re so timeless.
The fur coat is repurposed. The BMX jackets. If you look around, the red one that’s on the rack, there’s a kid in here wearing the original one from last year. You could see the difference in that we upgraded the quality. We definitely repurposed some old pieces. It’s like a relaunch for us, then there’s Reserved Essential in re-launch.
Talk about this collection being inspired by BMX.
I used to race BMX professionally from 12 to 22. Professional BMXers didn’t make as much money at that time. Now, it’s an Olympic sport. Now, they make a little bit more but still not as much. I stopped because it was time to focus on other things and I just couldn’t afford to get hurt. But my parents divorced when I was one. My dad always lived in Tennessee and I was always in California, so I’d see him every summer. I introduced him to BMX. One of the t-shirts, the Dixieland shirt, was the very first race he ever seen me race. It was in Nashville, Tennessee. That race, the whole weekend, I got 1st across the board. My dad was instantly hooked.
That year, he asked me to stay with him and he was going to take me to all the races. He said “you’re going to be a national champion. What does it take to do that?” I said “you have to go to five Nationals out of 30 all across the nation, and they take your best five scores.” He took me to 10 races, I got perfect scores at all the races, except for one where I got cut off and I had to go home early because I almost ruptured my spleen. After that, my dad trained me and said “make sure you’re so far out the gate that when the gate drops, no one can cut you off ever again.” From that, I ended up becoming the #1 national 14-year-old in the nation.
That was the only thing me and my dad got to bond on. To this day, I can call him right now and be like “yo dad, life’s been a struggle. This, that, and the other,” and he’ll reference the BMX. The year we did that, he’s like “you were a champion. You’ve always been built to be a champion. Remember when I said make sure you’re so far ahead that no one can catch you? Apply it to life, because you’re a natural champion. You’ve been born a champion. Don’t let anyone tell you no and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do nothing.” A lot of people don’t know that’s where the BMX inspiration comes from. The second part is that it was a bonding experience for my father.
What goals do you have for this brand? Where do you see this brand down the line?
Building a contemporary brand like this, my mind has always been higher. On a global scale, I want the brand to be recognized. I want to be credited as a fashion designer, as one of the fashion designers. Obviously, as a Honduran American citizen, I want to break down boundaries for my country and where my family’s from. My family comes from a third world country (Honduras in Central America), so just trying to make things happen. To grow the brand on a global scale. I try to create timeless pieces so just to continue to grow, continue the recognition.
Just to build all these crazy designs that I dream about, because this whole yellow forest thing is a dream I used to always have. I used to be in this weird yellow forest. Ironically when we named the collection The Sound That Was Never Heard, it coincided with this forest I was in. You know how they say “if a tree falls in the forest, do you hear it?” The Sound That Was Never Heard was my interpretation of: if you’re sitting in the backseat of a car and your friend plays a song that you’ve never heard. You’re like “this is dope, what is that?” They tell you. Or maybe you Shazam it because you’re too embarrassed, you think you’re out of tune with music or whatever. Then you go home and download that song, then it’s your instant addiction. You’re playing it over and over again, it sticks with you forever. I correlate that with the brand.
There’s a lot of brands in the world. The brand’s been around for a little bit of time. It’s still a baby, but it’s that brand you never heard of that you’re instantly addicted to. Maybe your friend introduces you to it. Maybe you just come across it in any kind of way. But it’s timeless, it’s your instant addiction. You’ll always be able to reference back to it, like those classic jams that are in your head. That’s where the name comes from and it correlates so perfectly with the forest. The Sound That Was Never Heard, and you’re not hearing it right there.
For more information visit Reserved Essential.