What happened to El Niño, the rate brand that caused a sensation in the 2000s | Fashion | The USA Print

The end of the millennium sounded apocalyptic in many ways. With the dreaded 2000 effect just around the corner and the buzz of what the Internet could mean for society (we would not even remotely predict its real impact at that time), fashion was awakening at that time from a minimalist lethargy to embrace a new way of understand feminine sensuality in broad daylight. Along with the outbreak of boho chic promoted by actresses such as Lindsay Lohan or Mischa Barton by the hand of the stylist Rachel Zoe while they refueled their 4×4s at gas stations in Los Angeles, came the imposition of the it bag and that Juicy Couture plush tracksuit that Paris Hilton established, along with a silhouette as impossible as the low-waist pants that challenged our belly button to show it in all its splendor.

One of the famous El Niño t-shirts.

In national territory, we echoed all these fashions that prevailed on Sunset Bulevar, also feeding homegrown ones. If the small screen was in charge of paying for some aesthetic milestones in series like Afterclass (the scarves on the head as a bandana or the patchwork T-shirts by Custo Barcelona would be a recurring one to imitate among its protagonists), the street did everything else. Parallel to this effort to blur the roles, the ‘boom’ of graphic design and the attachment to the hippie silhouette and buenrrollista that Silke catapulted into her leading role it girl of Spain, the El Niño brand was born in Tarifa, specifically, in 1999.

As its founders say, the idea actually arose a decade earlier, when two friends, the German businessman Herbert Neumann and the Basque graphic designer Andoni Galdeano, left their hometowns to move to Tarifa and turn windsurfing into their way of life. Both competed all over the world, shared hours of training, trips and friends, and decided to join forces to launch their own surf brand. “We started with local and national suppliers, but in less than a year, the demand to open franchises for the brand was so overwhelming that we had to find a solution that would allow us to handle this multitude of requests in a professional manner,” explains Herbert Neumann to Yes Fashion.

El Niño sailboat crew, present in all sports related to water.

The opening of its own store in the town of Cádiz was the opportune remedy that would turn the name of El Niño into a distinguished brand among wave sport enthusiasts. This is how both entrepreneurs recall the beginnings: “There were days when there would be a long queue at the door because there were no more customers in the store. It was sheer madness! Although not everything was smooth sailing, our evolution was constant, driven by the energy with which we started the project, the excellent location of the store or the impulse that Tarifa took in those years”.

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The name, they confess to SMODA, was taken from the climatic phenomenon of the same name, which in its most intense manifestations causes strong storms and tidal waves, which translates into good waves for to surf among the community. Along with the success of his own store, The opportunity to expand the brand arose through a license agreement with a Galician textile distribution company in 2002, although the founders retained control of quality and design. “In 2006 we had stores open in Malaga, Seville, Granada, Madrid, Jaca, Bilbao, Palma de Mallorca, Vigo, Baqueira, San Sebastián… And we added 70 points of sale throughout the national territory through El Corte Inglés” , they point out.

Andoni Galdeano, designer of the logo, when he created “El Niño” in 3D.

The first viral garment on television

El Niño developed in parallel a spontaneous marketing effort that would foreshadow the importance of the product placement as an advertising strategy in the media and social networks. While the engagement As the brand grew by leaps and bounds among the surfing community, its knowledge reached outside the circles of this circle, according to what Neumann reported to the newspaper The Economist, when María Jesús –his wife and store clerk at that time– suggested making the brand known on television programs such as Club Disney. The strategy worked and connected El Niño’s laid-back style with generations of teens eager to find a streetwear brand to identify with. “At a time when social networks did not exist, the influence of television was brutal and magazines played a very important role in disseminating any news or image,” says Andoni Galdeano.

With a quarry of semi-loose garments such as zip-up sweatshirts, long-sleeved T-shirts, or the famous tight-fitting tank tops for women that were all the rage in the early 2000s, that declaration of intent that surfaced in the El Niño universe matched the feeling of indomitability. among the youth of the time. “El Niño is rebellious, determined, he goes out of the way, he likes challenges, he is aware of his surroundings and he is deeply committed to conserving the environment. His medium is nature and in it, in freedom, he feels at ease”, says Galdeano about the spirit that has always accompanied the brand since its inception.

Interior of the first store in Tarifa.

Your logo in the form of doll angry, as happened with other contemporary brands such as Paul Frank, it acquired a new status on the street, screen printed on the back in black and white on t-shirts in all colors, its best-selling garment in its entire history. Despite having such a defined DNA in surf culture, El Niño managed to bring such antagonistic urban tribes to an agreement, such as the posh, bakalas or hippies. For the creative director Alicia Padrón, the key to his success resided in his ability to be inclusive with the public at the time: “I don’t think it was a matter of taste, it was a matter of belonging. In a world without social networks or online shopping, the possibility of wearing a t-shirt within the reach of a teenager’s pocket and having a look that empowered you on the street was a real ‘hit’”. “The domino effect that went through urban tribes,” he continues, “was based on the power of its sinuous graphics and daring logo, practices at that time very common among posh and bakalas although they only replicated patterns that lived anecdotally as surfers in their summers”, he reflects.

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An Instagram anecdote or the return as an icon of the ‘cool’?

After maintaining a peak period of sales from 2006 to 2010, the media silence that has accompanied the brand for the last decade does not mean that it has disappeared from the sector. “The crisis, which affected the textile sector so much, caused us to ‘retract our sails’ but without ever ceasing to be in the market”, clarifies Galdeano.

With two annual collections for men and children, the logo now poses more discreetly and together with other typefaces on sweatshirts, swimsuits, T-shirts and sweatpants, for sale in El Corte Inglés physical stores throughout Spain, Amazon and its own Online store. “We maintain the same illusion in each collection. Although almost 25 years have passed since we opened the store in Tarifa, we continue with the same lifestyle as then. In essence, the brand has not changed at all: they are unique and fresh designs, very colorful and of excellent quality”, conclude the founders.

Meanwhile, the runaway interest in Y2K fashion and anything bearing the tag twomilera palpable on social networks, it could lead to his return in style. If the actress Ana Rujas posed on her Instagram in January of last year during the filming of the series Thistle with one of her tight shirts, the influencer Paula Acebedo seconded the possible trend months later with a fuchsia model that garnered more than 5,000 likes. The last proof (but most decisive) that her possible return has been in the hands of Rosalía. On a carousel of photographs under the caption He who I want doesn’t love me like I want to I wanted The singer posed a few weeks ago with a vintage-looking El Niño t-shirt, one of the brand’s star models that they reissue every year because it runs out. Similar designs can be found on the Vinted resale platform, which today accumulates more than 10,000 references of the Tenerife brand in its catalogue.

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With the ground leveled by the influence that the author of motomami works in the fashion industry (she has just starred in the latest Louis Vuitton show and is the image of Skims, Kim Kardashian’s brand) it is not unreasonable to think that the Tenerife brand could be ‘reborn’ as a cult object among generation Z. “He will come back for sure. Its 2000s aesthetic close to the universe of parking has come back with a bang. That way of dressing with jackets crop, Short t-shirts without a bra and extra-short sleeves, of which El Niño was a part, are very trendy now”, says the stylist Cristina Malcorra.

Padrón, who confesses to having had an El Niño shirt at that time after finding it in a small Madrid surf shop – “although that feeling of desire lasted for two days”, he stresses – differs completely. “That is something impossible. Despite the winks on social networks [de Rosalía y Ana Rujas] this is nothing more than anecdotal and ironic. But hey, you never know… Supreme recently did a collaboration with a skater brand from Los Angeles that no longer existed…. Can you imagine a Supreme for El Niño?” In the moment we live, nothing is impossible.

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