“When my brother died and I woke up the next morning, it was a beautiful sunny day. I felt like it was an insult. I felt like God was playing with me. That’s when I realized the world does not stop spinning, so let me go out here and get it and follow my dreams,” explains Frank “The Butcher” Rivera.
May 28, 2005 was a day he’ll never forget. At the time, Frank was a local legend known by many for his keen taste in the finest of footwear and streetwear. While the death of someone’s brother may cause many to become bitter, and angry, Frank channeled that energy and used it to build his brand.
Since then, he’s taken his movement to another level. Getting the nickname “Frank The Butcher” by friends in the industry, Frank takes pride in giving people an inside look with many famous streetwear brands and rising rap acts on his show “Butchers’ Block.” Speaking with XXL‘s The Good Life, Frank touches on his blog series, collaborations with New Balance, and more. —Christian Mordi (@mordi_thecomeup)
XXL: Who is Frank The Butcher, and where did that nickname come from?
Frank The Butcher: I had kids early, so I was off to work early. I have been with my lady 20 some odd years now, married 12 years now. I had my first daughter when I was 19. So I went to work, for real, at a young age. I was welding, factories, sheet metal. So while all of my friends were out enjoying themselves, the joke was, I was the blue collar guy. Like “Frank the Welder,” and then it landed on “Frank the Butcher.” It was a joke, but it stuck and I kept it.
When did you know you wanted to make fashion a profession?
It all came down to one day. May 28, 2005. My little brother got killed in a car accident. He was my best friend. I had a young family at the time, working in the factory with sheet metal. I had a passion for fashion, I had a local radio show, I was heading in that direction already at the time. When my brother passed, it was so tragic and sudden, that it made me re-evaluate what I was doing with my life. I realized tomorrow is not promised. Do I want to spend it breaking my back, or do I want to man up, and figure things out and do things I didn’t know were possible.
When my brother died and I woke up the next morning, it was a beautiful sunny day. I felt like it was an insult. I felt like god was playing with me. That’s when I realized the world does not stop spinning, so let me go out here and get it and follow my dreams.
You first spread your wings appearing as a co-host of the popular street culture podcast The Weekly Drop. Tell us about that time period in your life?
That was step one. I was blessed enough to be invited to the show. The show was in motion like a year before I got on. I was a perspective they didn’t have. I joined on and I was like the voice of the hood. I was invited on the show to be a host, and the first guest I bought on the show was Thirst the Howl.
I think that was my entry into being a voice for the culture. We all participate, we all play ball, but we all aren’t on TV. When you get on that platform is when things change.
You now are a go-to guy in the game in regards to your opinion on fashion. Do you take pride in being ahead of the curve?
I do I take pride in that. I really take pride in the fact that people see me as a valued opinion. That shit don’t happen overnight. We all feel like our voice should be heard, you’re Chris at XXL and me over here, but when other people start to respect it, when your peers start to invite you to the big boys table, it means a lot. When people you respect begin to reach, visible or not advice, solidifies that you are doing the right thing.
I move with integrity, and my work reflects that. If you know me for 10 minutes, you know I only do what I want to do. Its not about having an attitude, I just don’t move for anything. I don’t swing at every ball I see, but when I do, I’m swinging for the fences; home run.
You were a brand manager/designer for Concepts. Tell us about that time period and your collaborations with New Balance and how that came to pass.
Concepts was a blessing. The people over there are still my friends. That was the first time I was able to speak directly to shoe brands from power companies. The owner really respected me and let me do my thing.
See a lot of people sleep on Boston. People call it an “off market.” People don’t realize that the shoe companies are in my backyard. Timberland, Clarks, New Balance, Reebok is here; Mitchell & Ness. I have a direct pipeline to the best brands in the world. When I work with New Balance, it isn’t totally through email or Skype at best. I am in the office, I can develop a different relationship. I can learn more, its hands on. I can also react quicker and be more responsive to edits and design elements. I am blessed with my location. The Kennedy collaboration is considered one of the best New Balance collaborations, ever. It is a testament to me being able to deliver what the vision with us and New Balance was.
You also do collaborations in music as well. You have synergized your brand and created mixtapes with Statik Skeletah, Mobb Deep and street wear brand Milkcrate Athletics and more. How did you branch into that realm?
I think when people see my work in fashion or sneakers and music, there is a distinction between the two, but to me their isn’t. I live at the intersection of fashion and music. Music is my passion. I am Puerto-Rican, I never listened to a lick of Spanish music. That’s who I am, rap music. I think my partners know that I do sit at that intersection. Everything I do stems off of music. All this fashion shit I deal with, its off the strength of me following Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick with the jewels and Kane looking smooth with the Dapper Dan. All I do is an extension from the music scene. People like Milkcrate Athletics, Aaron Lacrate, he is like me, music is an extension of what he does. He owns Milkcrate Athletics the brand, but is a revered DJ and producer. He is a great dude.
I am actually working with my brand Business As Usual and doing a collaboration with Reebok. This shoe will drop in April. It also will come with a snap-back and bucket hat with Mitchell & Ness that matches the shoe. Alongside that shoe is album with my production partner Paul Mighty. On the album we have Krondon, Chase N Cashe, CurT@!n$, Termanology, Roc Marciano and more.
You now are Creative Director for the Boston-based Boylston Trading Company. Tell us why you decided to venture out and build with them.
It was time for me to spread my wings. I have a large appetite for creating. The situation cam about where I had time to continue to do what I do on the fashion side, and still have the time and resources to develop the things I do on the music side.