During the revamping of our website we sat down and brainstormed what could we do better for our readers, and the cycling community as a whole. We always looked up to the impact that skateboard magazines had on the skateboarding culture, the way they talked about not only the sport, but art, people and projects revolving around it. While we had to cut down the printed magazine edition to biannual, we realized that our web journal is a great way to give more voice and attention to people and brands in one way or another connected to cycling.
That is why we decided to try a new section called FarRideTalks, where with your help we will interview individuals, companies and organizations. Send us your ideas and thoughts on who might be interesting to have a spot light on and let's make this community a bit better together.
Last month we had a sit down with the creative director of Laser Barcelona, Justo Heras, to talk about the brand history, connection to cycling and skateboarding and their involvement with a fixed gear team.
Full interview can be found below.
Photos by Katia Lavrova
Tell us about your background, where do you come from?
I was born in Tarragona, a little town south of Barcelona. That´s where I spent my adolescent years, where I grew up playing basketball, skating and drawing.
Different Hardcore and Punk bands were born in my neighbourhood and it wasn´t long till we created a very authentic, albeit small, music scene in the ‘90s.
Once I graduated from high school, I went to live in Barcelona, where I also got my degree in Art and did a Masters in Art Production.
What's the story behind Laser?
I started Laser together with my friend Alfredo at the end of 2009 in a little studio in the Raval neighborhood in Barcelona which we shared with some other friends. In those times, many people were trying to start clothing brands, but only the strongest survived ;) Our initial investment was minimal, but we fiercely believed in our project, so we designed our first collection ourselves and printed it on our own, as well. Yeah, it was that simple.
That's when we met Raquel and asked her to document our daily life and philosophy in photos. This was our first editorial project. We started with small batches (back when instagram, was not even popular), but in a very short time we began selling online and in various shops around Europe. Now, nine years later, after suffering some heavy hits, I still won't ever change my philosophy of doing what I love and doing things well.
Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from?
In the mid ‘90s, punk and rap were the predecessors to my skating life. A bit later, I started to paint, and that’s what I still do nowadays. Graffiti, music, photography, surfing and skating, shoes, together with all the memories of my childhood are things that inspire me now. The concept hasn´t changed throughout the years.
Nevertheless, there are always more things to talk about, because what is happening around you changes every day, and it´s a lot of fun to be able to show your own point of view.
What can I tell you about skating that you don´t already know? I don´t think I would be lying to say that skating in many ways is the predecessor of many trends and fashion which you end up seeing in shop windows of mainstream brands. Both graffiti and skate shops were the first ones to notice us. We basically represent Barcelona and what´s happening in the local scene. It´s great to see how members of a movement, which at its core is not materialistic at all—if anything, it´s altruistic—notice us and adapt us to their daily lives.
I’m one of those people who thinks that everything has its place in life and every action can change your destiny. While I was studying in university, I saw that I had many ideas which could be adapted to fashion, but I decided to focus more on creative concepts. Just before switching to developing Laser full time, I was working as an arts teacher in a school in Badalona. That´s what helped me to save money to study for my Masters degree and start the brand. Four years after starting, we suffered a so-called stroke of destiny. Our workshop in Parallel was robbed and we had to move to a new location, where after eight months of reconstruction, we opened our own store. That’s when I could finally hire Raquel to be a part of our team full time, taking care of the shop and the photography.
Creating our own team, Rodagira, together with Nuno Sota was amazing. In the end, believing in your own project and not doing it for the money is very important.
Nuno comes from the same background as me, but a decade before. That’s why I never had a single doubt about whether or not to join this project. It was pretty easy to recruit the riders. Even though they all come from different countries, they are all very close to us personally.
Being able to collaborate with Legor was great, and even more so knowing that the bike will end up being my road bike. That´s when we got to know the guys from BBUC, with whom we have a long lasting relationship and with whom we have collaborated a couple of times. For me seeing these artists—because that´s what I consider Mattia from Legor, Marvin and Gus from BBUC, Sami and Gus from Outskirts, Chas from Mash or Safa from Deluxe NYC—wear our clothing makes me feel like we must be doing something the right way.
Cycling is life!
Me and bike have been connected my whole life. I remember how at only five years old, I broke my first bike (lent to me at the time) in two while going down the stairs in a square in front of my house. During my adolescent years, for a couple of years, I worked as a lifeguard and had to commute between the different swimming pools by bike. In 2008, together with my friends we started modifying old road bikes to make them fixed-gears, but hey, who didn´t? For many years, my fixie and I were inseparable. For me cycling is sharing, discovering, entertaining. If I get a chance to put include my designs, well, even better!
I think it´s something that is cyclical. Honestly, everything that occurred after 2011 and the profesionalization of fixed gear, is criticizable, but in my opinion, cycling at its most basic is a community that moves around on two wheels where the important thing is being good to each other and having a great time.
Fixed gear cycling left the center of attention and went back to its original place, nothing less and nothing more. RHC had its moment and I appreciate all the work David put into it, but it's sad to see that in the end it's money that decides everything and no one can do anything to change that.
In 2019, we have different collections dedicated to our roots and a couple of collaborations with different designers and artists. For the cycling part, this year together with Endless, we designed their Off-Road range, so soon you´ll see some news on that!