J Balvín talks fashion, fatherhood and new BodegaWear collaboration – USA TODAYFashion
Whether he’s sporting rainbow grillz or performing in an all-white suit with a bleeding heart, J Balvín is all about expressing himself through his clothes.
“Comfy but elegant” is how the Colombian reggaeton star describes his personal style. “What defines me and my style is my personality,” he tells USA TODAY in an interview conducted in Spanish. “It’s all in your attitude” and how you carry yourself.
Balvín is teaming up with Miller Lite for a clothing line inspired by the vibe and culture of the bodega (or corner stores), available now online.
Growing up in Medellín, Colombia, the “In da Getto” singer frequented bodegas as a kid and has fond memories. “The bodegas were my favorite place to be,” he says. “(My friends and I) would sit outside and eat salchichón con limón (a Colombian sausage dish). That was my place.”
Balvín recalls people-watching and daydreaming outside of his local bodega. “A lot of my dreams came out of there,” he adds.
The streetwear collection, dubbed BodegaWear, is Balvín’s latest fashion collaboration with a major brand. He’s currently working on his second shoe release with the Jordan Brand and has two Guess collaborations under his belt. In 2018, he made his debut as a fashion designer with a collection for the clothing brand Gef France. “Of course,” Balvín wants to work on his own clothing line at some point, “but we have to do it the right way.”
The line includes a white and navy blue varsity jacket, a gray hoodie, slides, socks and a bucket hat, and all pieces are adorned with Balvín’s signature pops of color.
Balvín’s Colombian roots also play a significant role in how he dresses.
Colombia is a vibrant country “full of color and good vibes,” he says, and a reflection of who he is. “Style and how you dress is a way to express how you’re feeling inside without having to say anything at all.”
What won’t play a role in his style evolution is fatherhood.
The singer is adamant he’s not going to change, even with a baby at home. Balvín welcomed his first child, a son named Rio, with his partner, Argentinian model and actress Valentina Ferrer, in June 2021. “I’m going to stay on top of that (because) I love fashion and I’m not going to become boring in that sense,” Balvín quips.
Profits from the fashion partnership will go back to “our people,” he says. All proceeds from BodegaWear will be donated to Accion Opportunity Fund, a financial support system for small businesses that advances racial, gender and economic justice.
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Balvín was set to kick off the North American leg of hisJosé tour in April but postponed because of COVID-related production challenges. Still, this summer he’s taken the stage at music festivals in Ibiza and the Netherlands.
When stepping out into the spotlight, Balvín wants to show up and make a difference “but without being destructive or wanting to simply attract attention. That’s not what I’m about.”
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But he’s come under fire multiple times in the past year. In December, he accepted the award for best Afro-Latino artist from the African Entertainment Awards USA, although he is not of Afro-Latino descent, and in October, he released a controversial and since-deleted music video for his song “Perra,” which was criticized for its racist and misogynistic depictions of Black women.
“That’s not who I am. I have always expressed tolerance, love and inclusivity,” Balvín said in his apology.
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To the Afro-Latino and Black communities, and any other fans that may have felt hurt by past actions, the singer now says, “What we need to do is find ways to elevate our consciousness and to realize when we’ve done wrong.”
Ultimately, Balvín says “it starts with oneself.”
“You can’t change people. We need to want to change ourselves, we’re who can make a difference.”
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