“I was going to college for business, and just being involved in the [Mexicah] culture was my everyday lifestyle. And I thought ‘why not take that knowledge and culture and turn it into a modern apparel that everyone could appreciate wearing?” - Adrian Mandujano, owner of The Movement Brand
Adrian Mandujano is a 23-year-old Mexican dancer, teacher, and clothing designer from Carlsbad, California. In April of 2015 he launched The Movement Brand, an apparel line that focuses on “Mexicah streetwear.” Mexicah is term used during an Aztec blessing ceremony in the phrase “Aui Mexicah!"
Since the line is heavily influenced in Aztec culture, Adrian found it fitting for his brand.
“You can translate [Mexicah] to the appeal of the people," he says. "...Our people. That’s how I identify with it. Their mission statement reads, “Preserve the Culture. Discover yourself.”
Adrian knew starting The Movement Brand would be time consuming, but he feels that sometimes his culture isn’t represented correctly in other apparel.
“Some clothing companies out there, we as the people know what the symbols mean but we don’t really teach our followers what those designs mean. So in part, I am taking my knowledge-- experiences from my life, and sharing it with everyone.”
Adrian uses Aztec symbols on his clothing, a culture that he holds dear since starting Aztec dance 5 years ago. The main symbol the “Nahui Ollin” means “4 Movement” and represents the four directions of the universe or of the earth. This is the main symbol in all of Adrian’s clothing- it's one he knows well and that represents something he feels can be passed onto people who purchase in the clothing.
The Aztecs, who originated from what now is Mexico City, are a culture that has very recently come back into the spotlight. Many Mexican immigrants in America, like Adrian and his family, are trying to connect themselves back to their indigenous roots. While many go back to the motherland, some decide to involve themselves in artistry. In Adrian’s case, he delved into the art of Aztec dancing, folk dancing and clothing design.
Adrian began dancing almost a decade ago. “It was something I discovered when I got older," he says. Growing up in Carlsbad, there wasn’t much diversity as far as Latinos so really, I didn’t get involved with my culture until freshman year of high school.” Adrian dances both Aztec “Guerrero” dance (Before the conquest) and Ballet Folklorico, a traditional dance which involves a lot of fast moves, big costumes, and pointed toes.
Dancing connected Adrian to his culture, which had been pushed aside from living in a predominantly white area. “I didn’t know much about it before because I was a fourth generation here. So a lot of our language and traditions were lost. Like our grandparents knew it but it wasn’t passed down to us.” So Adrian danced on, learning to perform along with learning about the culture that ran in his veins, and eventually started to teach some of it at Carlsbad high, his alma mater.
“We were losing support from the school over all, so actually me and some friends took charge and that’s how we started this. That I would say was the beginning of the movement without even realizing it.”
For Adrian, one of the biggest events is day of the dead in Mission St. Lewis. “We usually open up the event with our blessing ceremony which is Aztec Guerrero style," he says. The celebration for Day of the Dead is over 3,000 years old and is a big staple to the Mexican culture. Eight thousand to ten thousand people are in attendance at this festival alone.
Never able to learn Spanish at home, Adrian is now taking steps to teach himself. “I speak with my feet,” he says. And with his brand clothing The Movement, using Aztec symbols, Guerra women designs, and bright colors, it’s clear Adrian is here to teach the younger generations his family history through clothing and traditional dance.
Adrian has many plans for his clothing brand: one future design is a hand-drawn sketch of a strong Guerrera woman, standing proudly ready to take on the world.
“I want to encourage Mexican women to be their own person and go out and educate themselves, grow,” he says.
The Movement Brand is a clothing line that Latinx people need to keep their eye on. With its ever growing designs and history printed on it, it’s something Latinx and Chicanx people need to read and wear.