In Brandon James’ tough South Los Angeles neighborhood in the 1990s, the people who dressed well and had money were known as hustlers according to James, now a designer.

“If someone hustles, that defines everything. They can sell drugs, cars, anything to pay bills. It wasn’t always the 9-to-5. People would say, he is a hustler, he has ambition, and fashion is the way I do it.”

Out of 40 of the boys in his group of neighborhood friends, four are still alive and avoided lengthy jail sentences, according to James. It was easy for the boys to get swept up into violence and troubles with the law.