WORDS BY CARLY AIMI
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARTINE LANGATTA
STYLING BY SIMONEZ WOLF
The definition of success isn't always defined by the number sitting in your checking account. It could be very much about picking your battles, winning the little ones on the path to the victory. The war? Well, what if the war was just about being hungry—and you only have $5.00 and that sandwich costs $2.75. We sit down with Felt's founder & creative director Kosta and stroll with him down memory lane, in an Audi, and his boy Lou is driving.
“I make my own clothes because I’m too broke for to buy the ones I want,” read Louie Correa’s Twitter bio. This along with a series of DM’s, weed delivery, a Jacksonville embroidery shop, falling in love and a roommate named Billy would lead to the creation of FELT. In 2007 Kristian Acosta (but if you’re down, just call him Kosta), the brand’s creative director, found his partner in crime or as he’d say with a smirk, his “intern” Lou on Twitter. After a couple quick follows, the two since then have had each other’s back. Lou who lived in Orlando at the time, Kosta in Miami, would carry on a long distance friendship working on creative projects until Lou moved the 200+ miles south—eventually meeting Kosta back up again in New York. To be honest, a lot of Kosta’s storyline has to do with random and not so random social media encounters, but we’ll circle back to these later.
About a month ago, I met Kosta via email. I fucking hate emails, so we jumped on the phone. Voices are interesting, since I was 5 years old I’ve been trying to figure out mine. But something about Kosta’s I liked—wondering if this is how I would sound if I were a dude: soft, raspy, chill, swears a lot, etc. We were trying to plan a shoot (well, really a house party) to launch FELT’s exclusive line dropping at Opening Ceremony. Much to my disappointment, the house party thing didn’t work out (to be continued …) but Kosta told me he found some sick auto-shop in the Hamptons, so I jumped in the car with strangers against my mother's better advice and headed to Montauk. Earl the friend/driver (bc Kosta doesn’t drive), Martine our beautiful 6-month pregnant Italian photographer, Simonez the Paris-born stylist, Lou, OC’s Seashell, and me crammed into a rental Nissan Murano (I think) and headed east … on a Friday—yes, we forgot about traffic.
Have you ever met a group of people and in minutes feel like they’ve been your homies forever? Arguing about JAY-Z vs. Nas—Earl being the driver and DJ while Kosta kicked it shotgun, me learning about pregnancy, discussing our future and not so future children’s names and mapping out our first pee-pit-stop. There’s a time in my life I miss my former angsty teenage self. I wore whatever the fuck I wanted, was a total music snob, watched cinema verité films on social realism in Latin America, read deep shit and overall felt blissfully ignorant to material and societal influences. Now my days often evolve around checking Instagram, an episode of House Hunters and occasionally catch myself singing a lyric to a Bruno Mars song. Disappointed? Sometimes. But as you get older, you naturally sorta chill. Why did I have to be so angry? So charged up all the time. Sometimes it’s okay to let things go, smoke a joint, kick it with friends and relax.
This sentiment can largely sum up the evolution of FELT. “I wasn't on my block anymore. I was in New York. I was meeting all types of people—beautiful people wrapped in books, art, music, and sports. I was talking to super artsy girls, older girls—girls that I never in my life had known existed—girls that were real, that cared about real things,” says Kosta on life after Florida … what changed for him and what made him rethink things, things like starting to sell FELT to the public. To step back for a second Kosta was born in Miami, spent his childhood in Colombia, then moved back to Miami when he was thirteen. Raised by a single mom who he describes as a militant gangster—is also laidback, owns a daycare and always plants the most beautiful flowers around her home. Moving out of his mom’s place when he was seventeen, Kosta drifted for awhile, living scattered places but eventually landing in Cutler Ridge, Florida where he grew close to a tightknit group of friends that described themselves as The Lootboyz (Life On Our Terms) a name they referenced as a daily reminder or dogma so to speak.
Click foreverylivingthing.com and what would you see? Kosta’s boy Richy wearing a tee with a bloody nose and one link with the words “Subscribe Here.” No one knew what the hell would happen. “We had like 500 requests, I don't even know 500 people. And then we dropped a video and then 500 turned into 1,000 and then we had 2,000 subscribers.” Kosta emailed each person who subscribed, “I rejected all of them. Saying you can't buy it, I’m sorry.” Huge bummer, right? Who cares though, that’s not what FELT was ever about.
After moving to New York, working for Cinematic Records as an unpaid intern living in his boys Billy’s apartment, this all around new life changed Kosta’s perspective. “Billy's this woke man that's got an afro (now long dreads), he's super militant yet the most laid back hippie ever.” Kosta says about one of the people he credits FELT to, a man that inspired him and exposed him to music like Peter Tosh, Donald Byrd and a lot of oldies like Marvin Gaye. On a day that seemed like any other, smoking in Billy’s crib with a friend, a friend that prides himself on owning the domain Fried Vegetables and helped Kosta get the job at Cinematic Worldwide, Nate, pushed Kosta to make a creative decision—to think of FELT as a brand, something fans (not just his crew) could buy. “I’m not like this internet kid taking rips from other brands—I knew [FELT] was great and I didn't want to dilute it to make a quick buck.” says Kosta on his earlier intentions—or really hesitations. “People notice and that builds the community. We’re real humans. Now I can make some money and it's still real.” Six months later Kosta sold Strange Weather, the first collection the public could purchase.
Photography Martine Langatta | Creative Direction Kristian Acosta | Styling Simonez Wolf | Production Carly Aimi | Talent Louie Correa | Seashell Coker | Lali Cisneros | Production Assistant Earl Powell | Special Thanks | Cisneros Tire Center | Cinematic Worldwide