WHERE You At, Baby?—A Different Spin On L.A.-Driven "Streetwear"
If you live in Los Angeles, then WHERE you at, baby? But really, where are you? Because Natasha Hunt Lee and Tyler Makhani want to know if you're on Figueroa, San Vicente, Melrose, Beverly, Mulholland, Fairfax, or Abbot Kinney.
As 20-something founders of the clothing line, WHERE You At, Baby?, Natasha and Tyler are upending the high-end streetwear game in L.A., speaking volumes about what neighborhood you represent while using one street name to describe it all.
"Tyler and I both grew up in L.A. And, more importantly, we're obsessed with it. L.A. is such a special city," Natasha told Beyond The Interview. "It's not even really a city, more like a gathering of a bunch of unique villages."
After all, where you live or hangout in L.A. says just as much about you as what you wear or what car you drive.
"The vibe of each neighborhood, its culture and attitude, was almost palpable, even when we're driving around. And a neighborhood is just the sum of its stores, and restaurants, and homes, and aesthetic, and people—all things that get organized into streets. And then, we realized that even more specifically than neighborhoods, streets are what precisely represent the energy we were feeling," she said.
From there, the two founders handpicked eight streets and sewed the names onto their L.A.-made products—from ultra-soft white tees to cool jean jackets to trendy dad hats—to acknowledge the power of the streets and the pride their people take in them, according to Natasha.
Like all good origin stories, there were hiccups along the way before Natasha and Tyler could make the kinds of T-shirts they had visualized.
The process of building WHERE began in January of 2017. Such as everything else, at the beginning, it was just an idea. After getting enthusiastic feedback from anyone they would ask, Natasha and Tyler decided to create a rough outline of what they would need to do to launch this clothing line.
The two spent the summer of 2017 running around L.A., from a Dye House in Compton to a sewing workshop in the center of Downtown.
Because they had no experience or contacts in fashion, Natasha and Tyler wanted to use a turn key manufacturer, meaning they would pay a premium to have one company run their entire operation—purchasing the fabric, cutting, sewing, dyeing, screen printing, embroidering the T-shirts with their idea and consistent input.
"We walked into our manufacturer's office and were pretty straightforward, but he could sense that we were total beginners," Natasha said. "But that made us vulnerable targets who would soon be taken advantage of. So, it was a really fine line between being honest and getting tossed around because we were young and inexperienced. At the end of the day, everyone really only cares about their own business and is just trying to make money."
"We could put all of our trust into someone, but eventually, we realized the only way to truly get what we wanted was to figure everything out by ourselves. And that took time," Tyler added.
And then the text messages started coming in.
"The way we were spoken to was disrespectful, but almost laughable too. We're young, and this vendor thought he could get away with a lot more because of that. But we weren't going to stop," Tyler said. "We agreed that once we committed, our idea had to come to life. So, we never looked back."
To date, WHERE has sold more than 2,700 T-shirts.
Simplicity is Key.
With every collection, WHERE releases limited-edition graphic tees. Location-themed but less street-specific is always their philosophy. In their first run, they made an "L.A.-Tour Shirt" and a Lichtenstein-style slogan shirt.
When you buy a shirt, Natasha says, you're more than adding a cool white T-shirt to your wardrobe. Obviously, part of the appeal is the aesthetic, but more importantly it's about the idea: Resonating with a certain street, feeling where you belong.
The slogan says it all:
Where you at, baby?
The two WHERE founders plan on taking this concept and their original design to other cities—New York, London, and elsewhere—where they will find eight respective iconic streets, and include more people and places into the concept.
For purchases made during this holiday season, (online, or at Brentwood Country Mart’s Trading Post), WHERE is donating a portion of their proceeds to L.A. Kitchen, a nonprofit dedicated to feeding the hungry in Los Angeles.
Tyler Makhani was born and raised in Los Angeles and is currently a BBA sophomore at the University of Michigan. He has always been interested in non-traditional business. He started his first company—a service-based platform for on-demand tutoring—as a sophomore in high school.
Natasha Hunt Lee
Natasha Hunt Lee lives in New York but grew up in Los Angeles with her parents, who worked in both the arts and entertainment industries. She knew from a young age that she would never be a lawyer or a physicist or "anything like that." She is a musician, and more recently, a clothing designer. She loves both because they are such strong forms of expression and creativity. Her other hobbies include eating, crying, and talking at incredibly high speeds.