Portrait: Edwin Ortiz, Jr.
In 2019, we launched the BLS x 888 collaboration with the Danish rapper Kesi. The collection sold out in record time and was a tribute to New York – the city with the most significant impact on streetwear worldwide.
For the photoshoot, we teamed up with Edwin Ortiz, Jr., whom Besnik got introduced to by his childhood friend Emil Boye.
Edwin is a photographer and documentarist from the Bronx with Puerto Rican roots. For our SS23 Members Club collection, we've joined forces with him again.
In connection with the shoot, we've asked him a few questions.
You worked with us for our Kesi collab collection.
What did it mean to you?
"The Kesi collab shoot was crazy. It was the first time I shot a campaign on film. When you guys asked me to shoot, I was trying to pivot from digital photography to film photography.
I fell in love with film photography amidst my digital photography career. I knew that's what I wanted to do for real. BLS gave me the first opportunity to shoot something significant on film.
Ironically that being my first film shoot, it was also my first campaign and first international exposure in my career.
Seeing those photos in Copenhagen was like a significant pivot in my career. I started shooting exclusively on film soon after that."
How was it to shoot a Danish brand in the streets of NYC again and direct it yourself?
"Getting to direct that Kesi collab shoot was great. Living in New York City, I've amassed so many different locations. So when BLS gave me the green light to do anything I wanted, I finally got to shoot in locations I would always pass by and want to shoot there. It was also like being a tour guide for the crew. It was organic. We even got on an ice cream truck with someone in it, but he let us rock."
Since our shoot in 2018, many things have been going on. Can you tell us some of your most significant accomplishments?
"Since our last shoot, I've accomplished some noteworthy shit. I had some billboards in Times Square for a shoot I did with KidSuper.
I also had an exhibit in MoMA PS1. I hate talking about accomplishments, for real. I'll talk about that when I'm done and can reflect on everything. Right now, I have my head down, working and not focusing on anything but being better.
One day I'm gonna get the Pulitzer Prize For Feature Photography. That's my goal. After that, then I'll talk about accomplishments."
If BLS Shoot had its own store in NYC, where would you locate it?
"If BLS had a store in NYC, it should be in Uptown. I'm from the Bronx, so I might be partial."
What is the best way to enter the NYC youth community for BLS as a brand?
"The best way to reach the youth in NYC is to provide space for them. So much talent is here in NYC & sometimes all these kids need is some encouragement & a community of people that want to see them succeed. Providing resources and experiences to the youth benefits the culture."
Give Edwin a follow here.