In the vibrant world of streetwear, a mournful hush has descended. A tapestry of creativity and resilience has been ripped away, leaving an absence that reverberates through the industry. Chris Printup, fondly known as "Spanto," a founder of Born X Raised, tragically passed away at 42 in a car accident on a recent Sunday in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The shocking news came from a brand representative, leaving a community of fashion enthusiasts and the creative class of Los Angeles grappling with the loss.
Born X Raised, the LA-based streetwear brand co-founded by Printup and Alex "2Tone" Erdmann, was an emblem of Printup's defiance, resilience, and love for the city he called home. More than just a brand, Born X Raised was a testament to Printup's life journey, a 'love letter' to the lost city of his youth. "This is me. This is who I’ll always be. And if you don’t like it, we don’t care," this bold declaration from Printup, shared in the documentary "The Canvas: Los Angeles," encapsulates the unapologetic authenticity that defined him and his brand.
Printup's childhood was far from glamorous. Born on June 6, 1981, in Venice, Los Angeles, he experienced poverty, often found himself in juvenile detention, and admitted to working as a drug dealer. His struggle culminated in a supermax prison, where the idea for Born X Raised was born.
The brand, according to Printup, was a way to "shine a light" on his Los Angeles, the Venice before gentrification, a far cry from the glittering facade of Tinseltown. Despite having no background in clothing design or aspirations to attend European fashion events, Printup and Erdmann launched Born X Raised and began selling their line at Union, a Los Angeles clothing store, in 2013.
In the early stages of the brand, Printup faced a major health challenge – a cancer diagnosis. As he battled the disease, undergoing chemotherapy, losing 100 pounds, and his hair, Printup persisted with his work. His resilience was inspiring, a message he shared with his followers on Instagram, "If you're feeling discouraged or like life has given you too many handicaps - IT'S OKAY. You're going to be fine, things will get better."
His business partner, Erdmann, described Printup as an "indefatigable" force of nature, gregarious and universally loved. The pair had created a brand that was now a fixture in the Los Angeles fashion scene. The tragedy of Printup's death was made even more poignant as he was in Albuquerque to participate in a traditional Native American ceremony, a ritual his father had taken part in two months prior, also perishing in a car accident shortly after.
The brand plans to honor Printup's memory with an event, with Erdmann firmly stating, "We're not going to fold. We're not going to stop telling this story. We're just going to change how we do it, because we no longer have him."
Printup's influence on the industry extended beyond just his own brand. A collaboration between Born X Raised and Nike, leading to a Dunk release, was scheduled for July 21. Following the tragic news, the release was promptly removed from SNKRS. In a similar vein, StockX, the major player in the resale market, also put a halt to all buying and selling of the shoe, reflecting a deep respect for Printup's work and the gravity of his loss.
Chris "Spanto" Printup leaves behind his mother, wife, three children, three stepbrothers, a stepsister, and his stepmother. His passing is not just a loss for the streetwear industry but a stark reminder of the fleeting nature of life. Through his struggles and triumphs, Printup created a lasting legacy that will continue to inspire many in the fashion world and beyond. Rest in power, Spanto. You will be missed.