Fashion

hypekids Family Portrait: How Union's Chris Gibbs Is Passing Streetwear On To His Sons

Father-son Supreme hand-me-downs.

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Chris Gibbs got his start at Union more than two decades ago, working at Union’s now defunct New York outpost. In 2008 he bought Union LA outright from James Jebbia and at the end of 2017 he launched Union’s first ever in-house clothing label, named Union of course. As the man who’s introduced Los Angeles to everything from Japanese brands like visvim to coveted collaborations with Converse and adidas, needless to say he’s been educating kids about streetwear for years – and that includes his own sons, Solomon and Ishmael Gibbs, who certainly have a leg up on the style game.

But like other kids, the Los Angeles-raised Solomon and Ishmael Gibbs also struggle to cop new Supreme gear and have to learn to navigate the world of social media. hypekids recently caught up with Gibbs and his sons at Union LA to get a first-hand look at their family style and how they rock their matching KAWS x Jordan 4 and Birkenstocks – the ultimate dad shoe, according to Chris. Read on for our interview with Gibbs, and see the gallery for a little father-son style inspiration.

Chris Gibbs Union los angeles la Solomon Ishmael Elizabeth Birkett Beth Bephie supreme streetwear new york James Jebbia family

Has becoming a parent changed your personal style or outlook on fashion? How so?

Yes and no. For the most part I kind of dress the same way I always have. That said there are a couple more subtle references. Like I can’t wear obscene gear like I used to – no more wearing a Sex and Seditionaries tee or anything like that, cause I have to be mindful of what the boys might pick up on that they aren’t quite ready for. The only other way my style has been altered would be the fact that, due to the exhausting nature of parenting, I find myself with a little less energy to devote to my style than in the past, so I’ve definitely increased my easy and comfortable ratio a bit. I find myself wearing my Birks more than I used to.

Were you interested in fashion and streetwear from a young age?

I suppose I was. I grew up in Canada but had a lot of relatives in New York City so I would go back and forth a lot. True story – my nickname in elementary school was Gucci cause I used to go to Canal Street and get fake Gucci tee’s and then bring them back to Canada. Heads didn’t really know what was up.

What do you think of your kids being on Instagram? Do you monitor their accounts at all?

My wife, Elizabeth Birkett, monitors their account on the daily. I think anything can be good in moderation. We can’t deny that it’s a part of their lives and will be as they get older, so we just try and give them the best direction and guidance that we can on how to use social media responsibly. Also we like to give them some room to figure things out on their own, make their own mistakes, and ideally learn from them.

Chris Gibbs Union los angeles la Solomon Ishmael Elizabeth Birkett Beth Bephie supreme streetwear new york James Jebbia family

Is there any chance of Union carrying clothing for kids down the line?

One hundred percent – it’s not if, but when. In fact we have had kids clothing here in the past. We carried NEIGHBORHOOD’s kids’ line for a while as well as OriginalFake when we had that, too. We also carried AKID, which is a kids’ shoe line. When something dope crosses our path, for sure we bring it in. My wife mentioned recently the thought of doing something, and my friend Jamie from J Money also mentioned that he was doing something. Not to mention all the designers of the brands we carry now have kids of their own, and all these kids see their parents doing it and want to get down. So it’s only natural.

What are some of your sons’ favorite places to shop? Have they always been interested in fashion or streetwear?

Of course they mainly shop at Union – I guess they can’t help but be influenced by what they see everyday. They love all of our brands like Noah, Awake, etc. They also love Supreme, but believe it or not it’s hard for them to get that stuff. They are both big BAPE heads and whenever I go to Japan I usually pick something up for them. As far as how long they have been interested in streetwear – I remember my oldest Solomon got an old hand-me-down Supreme backpack from me when he was in fourth grade. He didn’t really know the brand so much then. Some older kids at his school started sweating him and that’s when he started to figure it out.

What are the challenges of raising a family in Los Angeles? What are you favorite parts about having a family in the city?

The biggest challenge is that the city is so spread out, and there is no real public transportation system. The kids end up of having to be ushered around by the parents all the time. This makes for a lack of independence and a bit of a sheltered upbringing. The biggest upside is hands down the weather – they can be doing outside activities 365 days a year.

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Image Credit
Aaron Miller
Union LAFamily PortraitsChris Gibbs

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