Wednesday’s party at Bolivares, the newest men’s boutique on Williamsburg’s Grand Street strip, was “a nice mix of Latin rhythm with a New York and Latin vibe,” according to Lucho Bolivar, the brand’s founder. Photographer Ricky Powell, doorman and cafe owner Simonez Wolf, DJs Stretch Armstrong and Blaze were among those who stopped by to celebrate Bolivar’s 35th birthday and check out photographs taken during one of his recent trips to Peru, where he sources and manufactures all of his products.
One of his favorite snaps, taken by Craig Wetherby, shows an aged hand cutting fabric with scissors. “You can tell that hand has done so much hard work, has been to hell and back, and knows what it’s doing,” Bolivar said.
Bolivar is not just selling “comfortable leisurewear” for men. He’s selling a lifestyle. “It’s based around traveling and versatility– clothing you can wear at home our out, day or night, hot and cool,” he told us.
He started Bolivares in 2010 as an online retailer with a warehouse office in Long Island. Inside the Williamsburg brick-and-mortar, remixed Latin music plays softly while shoppers admire colorful knitted items like cardigans, sweaters, thermal Henley’s, and Lalo shorts.
“Ultimately [Bolivares] is a mix of cultures,” Bolivar said. “It’s New York culture, hip-hop culture, Latin culture, and, now more specifically, Peruvian culture. I’m just fascinated by the craftsmanship and the indigenous techniques and textiles that are used,” Bolivar said in a deep, gravely voice.
Bolivar was born and raised in Astoria by Bolivian parents. He’s an autodidact when it comes to fashion and clothing. He found inspiration for his current design sense several years ago, while traveling Latin America. There, he established the business contacts he uses today. “In Latin America they opened their arms up to me. They embraced my curiosity,” said Bolivar, who equated his time abroad to getting a college degree. Now he aims to be “the number one Latin American brand.”
Despite the casual, laid-back air of the store, Bolivares products are exclusively expensive. Cardigans go for between $229 and $360. Knit shorts cost $259. But that’s to be expected from a brand that says, “Not For Everyone, but for those individuals who are confident enough to believe – and invest in – themselves.” Among the most popular items are knit beanies, Peruvian blankets, “Nueva York” t-shirts, and knit sweaters, which were Bolivar’s first love and how he first distinguished himself.
Bolivares also sells designer products from other businesses, like a line of designer sneakers by Clear Weather, swim trunks by Franks Australia, and colorful extension cords by Conway Electric.
Bolivares, 226 Grand St., Williamsburg, 718-599-2508; open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 8pm, Sunday from noon to 7pm.