These Dallas artists met on a street. Now they have a streetwear collaboration with Foot Locker

These Dallas artists met on a street.  Now they have a streetwear collaboration with Foot Locker
These Dallas artists met on a street.  Now they have a streetwear collaboration with Foot Locker

Rosa Rodriguez and BB Valez started their art and clothing label, Malcriadas Collective, as a way to push back against their parents. They were both drawn to making art, but their people pushed them toward what they saw as more stable careers.

“Honestly,” Rodriguez says, “Malcriadas, our brand itself, is a riot.”

Three years later, their work brought them to the attention of Foot Locker, who have placed their clothing in locations around North Texas. Although the Malcriadas were a creative response to their strict upbringing, their style and influence remain rooted in their Mexican-American heritage.

It all started when the two met in the middle of a street under South By Southwest in Austin eight years ago. “We just became besties the right way,” says Rodriguez. They bonded over their similar childhoods. Both grew up in first-generation Mexican American households, Rodriguez in Grand Prairie and Velez in Oak Cliff. Both faced a culture clash.

“It’s hard to come from both places,” says Rodriguez. “We’re American, but we’re also Mexican.”

Life here was different from my parents’ life in Mexico, says Velez. Their parents were strict, and “they didn’t like it” when Velez and Rodriguez tried to fit in with their peers. Rodriguez says she went through an emo phase growing up; Velez jokes that she wasn’t allowed. Both were often called “malcriadas” or “spoiled children.”

“We heard it so much growing up,” says Rodriguez, that they decided to embrace the name. When they launched their art collective in 2019, they called it Malcriadas Collective.

Initially, Malcriadas was to be a way for Rodriguez and Velez to share and sell their art. Rodriguez was interested in photography and Velez creates mixed media pieces. (She loves to sculpt.) They were shy about putting their art out into the world, and this was a way to avoid putting names or faces front and center. In addition, the collective allowed them to organize art exhibitions and other events – they recently held a Valentine’s dance – for themselves and other local artists.

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The streetwear brand kind of just happened, says Rodriguez. They have always included streetwear, such as t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts, in their product drops. At first, their designs were simple, often featuring just their logo. But over time, as their brand grew, their designs became more intricate—and more popular.

Velez and Rodriguez describe Malcriadas’ style as “very unisex” and “very fun.” They don’t take themselves too seriously, and they allow themselves to express what they feel at that moment. For example, one product drop might be emo, while the next might be in a more chicana style.

But, says Velez, many of their designs draw inspiration from their childhood and their Mexican heritage and culture. Grab their Tío hat currently on sale at Foot Locker. It looks like a style of hat your uncles always wore. (Tío means “uncle” in Spanish.)

“It’s crazy,” says Velez, “because, yes, we rebelled against our parents. But a lot of our inspiration comes from them.”

After its launch in 2019, Malcriadas’ popularity grew rapidly. There are few female-owned streetwear brands in Dallas. Also, when they launched clothes, they only ran limited runs. They would make 30 to 40 shirts, or just 10 or 11 in a more exclusive drop. And when the design sold out, they wouldn’t make any more. People liked that they could get something no one else had, says Rodriguez.

Foot Locker first contacted them in March 2022. The sportswear chain had been working with local streetwear designers on collaborative collections across the country as part of their Home Grown platform. Melanie Robins, a marketplace retailer for Foot Locker, had heard about Malcriadas through this D Magazine article. She liked that the brand was women-owned, and created by women of color, Velez says, and decided to send them an email.

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“When we got it, we thought it was a scam,” Velez says, but they Googled Robin’s name and realized the opportunity was legitimate. And they were thrilled to be able to sell their clothes in stores. “Actually, Foot Locker was in our five-year plan,” Rodriguez says.

They worked with the Foot Locker team for months on their collection. While the process was “amazing,” they say, there was a huge learning curve.

“You don’t even know what you don’t even know,” Rodriguez says. The pair were not used to having to get approval from anyone else for their designs. And the volume was greater than what they were used to producing. For the collection, they created the Tio hat, a hometown jersey, a sweater, joggers and two T-shirts, ranging from $35 to $80. And they made 200 units—much more than their typical run—of each item.

Rodriguez and Velez had learned to create style numbers and label all of the approximately 1,200 items individually. They didn’t sleep for two days, says Rodriguez. “We literally took like little cat naps, like on the couch for 20 minutes.”

Their Home Grown collection launched in three North Texas Foot Lockers last November. You can still buy their merchandise, the couple says, and they hope to continue working with Foot Locker after this collection.

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The whole process has been a dream come true, they say, and they’re happy to be able to show others that you don’t have to leave Dallas to become successful artists. “It’s possible for a small brand like us to be in such a big, big store,” says Velez.

And while their parents weren’t familiar with Foot Locker, Velez says her mother got excited when she saw her daughter’s clothes on the racks. “As soon as she walked in, and she took pictures that she posted on Facebook.”

As for the future, Rodriguez and Velez say they want to continue hosting art exhibits and supporting local artists. They would like to assemble a collection for one of the city’s larger institutions, such as Dallas Contemporary or the Dallas Museum of Art.

They would also like to work with one of the city’s sports franchises, such as the Texas Rangers or Dallas Stars, or especially the Dallas Cowboys. “That’s our ultimate dream right now,” Rodriguez says.

Also, “in the long run to own our own store,” says Velez.

“But,” says Rodriguez, “mostly the Dallas Cowboy stuff.”


Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is online assistant editor for D Magazineher Living and Home and Garden blog, where she covers all…

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