Thought-provoking clothing line burgeons in Buffalo
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 19:11
It all started with a name.
During his sophomore year at Buffalo State College, Isaac Acevedo started to think about his future. He thought about his ambitions and his goals. He thought of clothing – Acevedo always had a thing for clothing. It was a childhood dream of his to be involved in the fashion world. He sat down and refused to stand up until he came up with a name. After four hours, Universal Mind F**k was born.
Universal Mind F**k (UMF), a clothing line founded in 2007 by Buffalo resident Acevedo, is unique in both name and purpose. Rather than looking for inspiration from larger brands that “don’t truly help anybody,” according to Acevedo, UMF wants people to look at its clothing and ask questions: What is that? What am I seeing? The brand wants people to ask questions and search for answers.
The name, like all UMF clothing pieces, doesn’t have a single meaning. There are layers and those layers contain “subliminal messages,” he said.
“It’s universal,” Acevedo said. “When you think of universal, you think about everything and essentially it’s what you’re supposed to think of: everything. And then ‘Mind F**k’ is the confusion that’s brought to you whenever you watch TV or whenever you go online, whenever you even talk to people in the street.”
The “Mind F**k” is the noise constantly thrown at you to confuse you, Acevedo said, the noise that takes you off your real thought process.
It was the name and the meaning behind it which sparked the attention of Jevin Gonzalez, senior mechanical engineering major at Buffalo State College and designer of UMF.
“Throughout my whole life, I thought of the universe,” Gonzalez said. “I thought of life in general as a whole big miracle, as a whole big experience that humans have to go through in order to be something greater than what we are right now, and [the name] is what sold me.”
About a month and a half after Acevedo had launched the company, Gonzalez – who learned of UMF through his girlfriend – contacted Acevedo and told him he was an artist. That wasn’t the first time Acevedo was approached by someone claiming to be an artist or a model, so it was only after Gonzalez came back with three sketches that their partnership began.
Those sketches ended up being part of the following season’s collection, and Gonzalez and Acevedo have been working together nonstop ever since.
UMF has grown quicker than Acevedo expected.
In February 2011, the first T-shirt was sold. From selling to people on the Buff State campus and to his friends, UMF is now in multiple stores and on a various websites.
“I went from selling four T-shirts to 25 T-shirts,” Acevedo said. “From 25 to 90, from 90 to probably 150, and that was within the first six months of my company.”
Each season, UMF releases clothing based off a central idea. This past summer, the theme was patriotism, aliens and a universal take over.
Whether it’s a shirt featuring Uncle Sam with the words ‘brainwashed in the USA,’ a Health Ledger edition for the recently released Dark Knight Rises, a Mighty Ducks T-shirt or a childhood cartoon with his head cut off – each shirt has its own message.
Many of the designs are inspired by graffiti and urban artwork, something that sparked Gonzalez’s interest in middle school.
“[Graffiti], that’s just the roots,” Gonzalez said. “That’s where we started from the beginning of time. The cavemen writing on walls, from the Egyptians carving their stuff in the pyramid walls, and all of that is just straight culture.”
The purpose behind the company is not to get people to buy clothing; it’s about evoking thought. At the end of the day, it’s about showing the designs to people and allowing them to create their own opinion, according to Acevedo.
UMF is reminiscent of the early ’80s movement, when seeing art evoked feeling and drove people to act.
“Whether it be think, whether it be walk out and clean your streets, whether it be help a lady across the street, we’re just trying to get people to think differently from what they’re used to,” Acevedo said.
It was Gonzalez’s parents who instilled the values he has taken with him not just through his life, but that would be transferred into the message of UMF as well. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” –his father told him when he was in sixth grade. They stuck with him.
The saying became his first priority in life, pushing him to become the first person in his family to attend college.
The Universal Mind F**k logo encapsulates the entirety of the company’s message.
The UMF logo, which features a brain with an eye and the UMF acronym, represents everything, according to Acevedo.
“It’s an enigma and a confusion,” Acevedo said. “But when you look at it closely, you will see the UMF in there, you will see the eye – which is your mind’s eye or your conscious eye – and the lines in it represent the paths that you might take. Everything is contained [but] it doesn’t really stop in there.”
Currently, the company is working on its fall drop, which will be a dark season as opposed to the bright, colorful pieces of its previous seasons.