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Seeing best of both worlds

Mexico-based NaCo. manufactures clothing with edgy and humorous Spanish and English slogans.

March 14, 2007|Reed Johnson | Times Staff Writer

The secondary aim of all this punning and sight-gagging (besides looking good) isn't to taunt but to provoke thought, perhaps even discussion. While Americans are conditioned to using pop culture (movies, TV, talk radio) to hash out some of their most burning (and most trivial) national concerns, in Mexico those debates are still more likely to occur in church or at the family dinner table.

Among the company's first financial backers were actors Diego Luna and Jose Maria Yazpik, the brother of Carlos Meza, 34, now NaCo.'s head of marketing. The performers each contributed $5,000 toward the establishment of the company back when its inventors were hawking their T-shirts in the capital's flea markets.

The next year, Alfonso Cuaron's landmark road movie "Y Tu Mama Tambien" came out, its costar Luna's career took off, and he started popping up in paparazzi shots in NaCo. wear. The product line now includes handbags, hats, wallets, shoes and, naturally, iPod holders.

Celebrity fans include the rock groups Cafe Tacuba and Molotov (who've worn NaCo. T-shirts in concert) and musician Juanes, who sported a "Se habla espanol" shirt at the Grammy Awards, supposedly after being told that he couldn't give his acceptance speech in his native tongue.

Not only is NaCo. comfortable in English and Spanish; it's at home in the terrain that spans the cultures. Having grown up in both of those worlds, says Chavarin, "I couldn't imagine being any other way."

Garcia agrees. "I'm just as proud of being an American as I am of being a Mexican."


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