Brent Arnold is the man behind The Poorboys. That’s POrtland-ORegon Boys for anyone who hasn’t been put on yet. We met up with him at local streetwear mecca Compound to talk about the local scene, what it takes to create a great brand, golf disc, and the “hood” factor. Like the PDX streetwear scene itself, Poorboys is still young and figuring it all out, but Brent is confident that both will have their moment soon enough.
With a friend in LA who was brushing shoulders with some of streetwear’s heavyweights and homies running the counter at shops like Compound, Brent got fed up with being just a consumer, and decided that there was nobody making the right clothing for his generation. Poorboys was started in secret, by Brent and a friend who wanted to get their idea straight before unveiling the brand to their friends. After deciding on the name as a derivation of Portland Boys, they were ready to draft a team. “Poor is hard to sell, and I liked that challenge,” noted Brent, who added an “o” to the name to draw a clear boundary between his brand and the multitudes of “rich” brands in the fashion world. He has since recruited Wes, Del, Chito, Mikey, Jesus and more to make Poorboys one of the dopest young brands in the city.
Anything coming from the brand has to abide by three rules: One, it has to be a good idea, and two, it can’t have been done before. Three, it has to pass the “hood factor,” which is something I think only a true Poorboy can decide. In a city with such a new fashion scene “that doesn’t have an identity yet,” where “everyone is doing something,” Brent is excited by both the energy and the challenge that comes from this movement. We could relate on the times before brands like Supreme and Black Scale were rarely scene, let alone available, which has changed these days thanks to the Tyler, The Creators and ASAP Rockys of the world. But according to Brent, “Everything people do is pretty dope, because it’s people actually doing shit,” but both he and his brand stay rooted in the history of the culture, that may go over the heads of younger consumers. “Hip-hop and skateboarding,” the true definition of streetwear.
With a skate team and a hip-hop mixtape coming out, made in part with the help of PDX beatsmith Stewart Villian, it is clear that The Poorboys stand for a lifestyle that is not always the one envisioned on the streets of Portland. “I’m not out in the woods all the time, I might go disc-golfing, but…” sometimes the hipster Americana vintage looks synonymous with the city don’t quite fit Brent and his crew. His plan is to keep the brand organic, and simply keep working at it, “it’s 24 hours a day you’re thinking about this stuff.” He is currently working on a new collection, as well as plans for the skate team and the upcoming release of their mixtape. Brent and The Poorboys have a vision for what the city they love could become, and as far as The Incorporated is concerned, it looks pretty damn good.
Check out The Poorboys at poorboys.co or @thepoorboys.