Born and raised in Los Angeles, multidisciplinary designer Joe Salas champions a contemporary aesthetic in his line, Average Citizen. With influences that stem from 90s pop culture and chicano customs, the humble mastermind behind the accessory and clothing line exemplifies a new wave of fashion with his inventive approach.
After graduating from The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in 2012, Salas launched his self-titled brand while juggling other jobs within the industry. His dedication in perfecting the details has led to styling for brands such as Fashion Nova and The Kript, as well as designing for Coveted Society. Cut to 2019, Salas’ line has evolved into an expressive, mature collection of polished accessories and body garments.
He recently invited us to his live/work studio in East Hollywood, which radiated with natural light as his hand-made accessories glistened of bright chrome. We gained front row seats to his design process and pow-wowed about his influences and upbringing.
HL: How would you describe the Average Citizen aesthetic?
JS: Minimal, but not minimal. Minimal in a way that you really only need 1 Average Citizen piece to make your entire outfit stand out.
HL: What inspires the name Average Citizen?
JS: My brand name used to be my name, Joe Anthony Salas. I didn’t want to be the face of my brand anymore so I rebranded and wanted the new brand to be anything but average. I came up with a tagline, “… anything but,” then the name “Average Citizen” came shortly after.
HL: What is your design process like?
JS: A lot of times my designs come from having friends who need custom pieces for an event, and this pushes me in my design process. Because my friends are constantly needing new outfits or new jewelry, my best designs have literally been last-minute pieces that I’ve needed to create the day before a special event.
HL: What inspires you the most?
JS: What inspires me the most is to be someone else’s inspiration. When I went to design school, there was this one designer, Rad Hourani, and everything he designed was unisex. He would shoot the exact same outfit on a guy and a girl, which was a BIG inspiration.
HL: How would you describe your personal style?
JS: A workin-boy in a 90s vintage tee. I’ve grown to love Dickies—I have 10 pairs. I taper the legs & crop them so they’re frayed at the ends. I literally wear them everyday with my Converse, white Nike socks, and a vintage tee. These are my staples every day.
HL: What is your favorite Average Citizen design to date and why?
JS: It would have to be the Lockbox because it was such a random object that came to life. I initially used the box to store my tools and whatnot, then somehow transformed it into a purse by adding metal brackets to the sides. From there I was able to clip on more and more accessories onto it, making it a functional sidepiece.
Words and video by Melissa Ver