DEBUT Grad Launches New Men's Brand Son of León
Advanced Fashion Design Graduate Eric Leon Garcia’s parents decided to immigrate from Mexico in pursuit of a better life for their family. Their humble beginnings in rural Texas gave Eric the passion and drive to make the American dream a reality for his family. As a child, Eric was inspired by a field trip to a costume museum and in high school he entered a recycle and redesign competition where he made a wardrobe out of materials from home. “Two silver medals later, I was able to compete at a national level where I pitched my collection to a panel which won me a gold medal and a scholarship to FIDM in Los Angeles,” he said. “I was leaving my small hometown for the very first time. Entering the real world and exploring what LA had to offer was so thrilling. The celebs, the palm trees, the beach, the fashion – I was starstruck for LA’s lifestyle. And most importantly, I was pursuing my dream.” He showed his first collection at DEBUT 2015, and has worked in the industry since then. Most recently, Eric was the Lead Designer at REVOLVE, where he co-designed collections with influencers and their brands such as Steele by Amanda Steele, Eggie by Jenn Im, and Lani The Label by Amanda Stanton. We chatted with Eric to learn more about his inclusive new line that’s bending the fashion rules for men with rompers, caftans, and printed hoodies.
Tell us about your brand, Son of León: I met my business partners Todd Aaron and Josh Briggs almost three years ago playing West Hollywood Dodgeball. Obviously, we clicked immediately, and before we knew it, we were all discussing ideas on how to start a fashion business. Todd was already working in Fashion PR and Josh’s background was in business development so we knew we have a good combination of skill sets that could really make this business thrive. It was a slow start because we were all working a nine-to-five, but then when COVID hit and two of us lost our jobs, it really gave us the time to spend on the business.
Aesthetically, Son of León represents the sun-kissed lifestyle of LA. The collection was designed to move with you wherever you go. If you are on your way to Laguna Beach, or headed to Palm Springs, or rooftop drinks, or Beverly Hills for brunch, we have your look. I also wanted to infuse a bit of Latin culture in the colors and prints. In addition to me being a Latinx designer, LA has such a rich history of Hispanic culture so it was important to me to highlight that in my designs. Overall, the silhouettes are relaxed, easy to wear and style, while the fabric remains very artisanal and soft. The bold color story is meant to inspire a life of being the freest version of you and going out there and living your best life.
What inspires you? When I see such a diverse set of people here in LA just doing whatever makes them free and happy, that really gets me going. It really makes me want to create pieces to inspire them to keep going and be whoever they want to be. The city of LA on its own is also a huge inspiration. There is so much to this city that you just can’t find anywhere else. Everyone wants to live here at least once in their lives so to be here already is super exciting. As the son of León, my dad, I want to dedicate my collections to the generations of hard working Hispanics who simply just want to create a better opportunity for themselves and their families. We all have been on our own walks in life. We are all someone’s child and come from a rich heritage. Let us lift each other up, regardless of our shape, color, or creed. This is what inspires Son of León.
You're also an illustrator. Will we see your illustrations in your brand? Yes you will! Everything starts off with an original sketch when I design a print, clothing, or for the business branding. A part of our storytelling is showing our authenticity by sharing with our followers the work and thought that goes into our original designs.
Why did you choose FIDM? I chose FIDM because it’s the best fashion school on the West Coast. I loved the amount of resources the school provides for its students such as counselors who really help guide you through the experience. I liked the Career Center as a resource as it's a great tool to obtain internships and further grow your network. The class sizes are also smaller so I knew I could get better care and attention from the staff members.
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? In what ways did your DEBUT experience serve you in the launch of your own brand? FIDM taught me that I solemnly had a choice to make the most out of my resources. The tools the FIDM provides you are there but it’s up to you on how much you choose to exercise them. DEBUT essentially gave me a taste of what it takes to start a brand and I learned what I do and don’t like about having to actually build a collection.
Any favorite FIDM memories? My favorite memory is being a FIDM Resident Advisor because that’s where I met some of my closest friends.
Any advice for current FIDM Students? Use all of FIDM's resources and do everything you can academically to get the most out of the experience.
What is your biggest goal right now? My biggest goal is to build longevity for my brand. I understand awareness takes time and work. Slowly, I want the whole world to know what Son of León is about. Until then, I want to enjoy the ride!
Anything else you’d like to share? Try to find good people who share the same vision when starting a business. There are many moving parts and trying to do it all yourself is very taxing.
Learn more at sonofleon.com and on Instagram @son.of.leon.