On Thursday night, the world was introduced to Kendrick Lamar‘s new music video for “Humble,” one of his first new releases since the Grammy-winning album To Pimp a Butterfly in 2015. And through the video, the world was also introduced to the emerging Los Angeles-based menswear brand, Second/Layer, designed by two down-to-earth yet ambitious 30-somethings, Joshua Willis and Anthony Franco, whose shirt and hoodie Lamar wears while rapping about his humble beginnings.
In 24 hours, the video has received over six million views.
Before last night, Willis and Franco were aware that Lamar was a supporter of their brand, being close with his stylist, Dianne Garcia. But they had no idea their pieces would be featured so prominently in the video. “When my phone blew up last night, that’s when we found out about it,” said Willis the following morning. Even his mother texted him. “I was like, ‘Mom, I didn’t know you listened to Kendrick!'”
Naturally, his first reaction to the Second/Layer plug was: “Oh s–t! Do we even have those in stock?” Followed by: “Oh s–t! I like this song!”
Exclusive: A Closer Look at Second/Layer Spring 2017
Launched in 2013, Second/Layer is a home-spun operation with no outside financial backers. Willis serves as creative director, while his brother Jacob is in charge of backend logistics like keeping the website stocked. (Yes, both pieces are still available, but hurry.) Franco acts as art director; he and Willis first met as teenagers growing up in Orange County. They bonded over a shared familiarity with what they’ve described before as Mexican suavecitos style, which can be translated to romantic, laid-back California basics with “gangster undertones.”
At New York Men’s Week last summer, Second/Layer’s first presentation made a splash with heavyweight industry supporters like stylist Eugene Tong and Magasin founder Josh Peskowitz. A line of buyers and editors quickly formed out the door at the Skylight Clarkson venue to get a glimpse of the brand’s impeccably-tailored draw-string pants, hoodies, and graphic t-shirts. They learned a valuable lesson that day: If they did their thing, the buzz would come to them.
The ‘Lil Dreamer’ hoodie in particular, which Lamar wears in the video in a scene during which his head is on fire, was a testament to where Willis and Franco grew up, and where they are now. “It’s about underdogs,” said Willis. “There’s Big Dreamer, Lil Dreamer, Dreamer From the Down the Block. It’s like your handle as a kid; it’s about wanting to do something different than your friends.”
The name Second/Layer expresses Willis and Franco’s desire for their clothes to feel like an authentic extension of themselves. “We’re doing the same thing we’ve been doing since day one—just be us,” said Willis. “We’re trying to do what we know how to do, and do it well. We’re not trying to be the coolest on Instagram.”
In fact, when Willis first found out about the “Humble” video, a friend asked if he was going to post about it, and the answer was no. “We thought it was cool, but that’s just too much for us,” he explained. “I’d rather be able to meet him in person and shake his hand and tell him that we love what he does.”
“Kendrick has a message and something to say,” Willis continued. “He really puts pride into his production and his look, obviously. We’re fans of that. And that’s probably why my mom wanted to text me about him, too. It’s not about us making money off of his promotion; it’s about mutual respect.”
Watch the new music video for Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” below.