The California Welfare and Institutions Code likely ranks low on a list of inspiring reading material. Yet a section of the code’s legalese has inspired a line of Oxnard-based street apparel: the Fifty150 Brand.
Section 5150 (pronounced “fifty-one-fifty”) of the code refers to the involuntary psychiatric hold placed on mentally ill people in California. Robert Quiroz, founder of Fifty150, a downtown Oxnard clothing store and online retailer, is redefining the term and its association with “crazy.”
“The message is about being crazy chasing your dreams and overcoming obstacles,” Quiroz said. “It’s about being passionate.”
Actor-comedian George Lopez has given Fifty150 a boost by endorsing, promoting and investing in the business. Lopez attended the Fifty150 store opening in December, and his pictures and memorabilia are plastered around the store and on some of the merchandise, which includes T-shirts, hoodies and baseball caps for men, women and children. Most of the product line is printed with the Fifty150 logo, but the shop also carries apparel from nine other independent designers, many of them from Ventura County, along with a few from Los Angeles and one from New York.
The New York-based company is Future Legend. Brand founder Future Legend (he legally changed his name to match the name of his company) said he heard about Fifty150 from a friend, and liked Quiroz’s story and that Lopez would be the face of the company.
Legend said that New York Mets players wear his clothing, but “I want to build the brand grassroots, keep it underground, out of the mainstream.”
One of Fifty150’s biggest-selling brands, Quiroz said, is 805 Clothing’s shirts printed with “Locals 805.”
“We want to help local designers,” he said. “We’re trying to make downtown Oxnard a location where people can showcase their stuff.”
Quiroz said that he finds designers via the close-knit apparel industry network. “Everyone knows everyone,” he said. Some customers “are driven by the Fifty150 brand; some are George Lopez fans; and some stumble across it on social media and want to check it out. As soon as I tell them the message, they gravitate to it.”
Quiroz waited a long time for Lopez to take an interest in Fifty150. A few years ago, he attended one of Lopez’s stand-up comedy shows and handed one of the comedian’s bodyguards a bag filled with Fifty150 merchandise and a flier describing the brand’s message.
Months later, Lopez contacted him via social media to let him know that he had been watching Fifty150 online for a year, liked what he saw, and wanted to get involved in endorsing the brand.
Lopez, known for the former ABC sitcom George Lopez and TBS talk show Lopez Tonight, currently stars in TV Land’s Lopez. The second season started in March, and Quiroz said Fifty150 merchandise will likely be worn by some of the characters.
Quiroz started Fifty150 as “5150 Recordings” (not to be confused with Eddie Van Halen’s 5150 Studio), a music company he ran for eight years. When a friend asked if he had T-shirts printed with the name of the studio, Quiroz designed a logo and started selling his shirts, which became popular. So he left music behind. The brand evolved from all numbers (5150) to Fifty150, because “It’s a term and concept that doesn’t exist anywhere else,” Quiroz said.
Most of the Fifty150 T-shirts, which are manufactured in Oxnard and Los Angeles, cost around $20. Hoodies cost around $39. In addition to operating out of his Oxnard store, Quiroz sells the apparel on the road at festivals, Lopez’s comedy shows and Los Angeles swap meets.
“That makes more of an impact than just personalizing some brand that might be catering to Oxnard,” he said. “I know I’m an 805 native, but once you get outside the city, I want somebody else to relate to the brand too.”
Customers around the world visit the brand’s online store. Quiroz said he’s also interested in possibly opening stores in Miami, New York, Chicago and San Fernando (Lopez’s SoCal hometown).
The designer said he is “not really trying to compete with anybody when it comes to fashion, because a million fashion designers are out there. My focus is to educate you about what Fifty150 means to us, and hopefully you have a little bit of Fifty150 in you to pursue your own dream.”
Fifty150 is located at 408 S. A St., Oxnard, 794-1066. Shop online at http://www.fifty150brand.com.