Happiness is knowing exactly what time the sun sets
Héctor Bellerín the swaglord superstar footballer on a vibey Y2K watch, heliocentric-nature-walk drip, Spanish design legends, his new clothing line & more
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Héctor Bellerín — he’s a kindvibed, swagged-out superstar footballer who signed to Arsenal when he was 16 (!) and, at 27, is back playing in his native Spain on loan to Real Betis.
When Héctor’s not busy getting off this world-class athleticism on the MF pitch, he’s been known to partake in photography, GORPY walks in the UK countryside, and Mach 3+ jawnz enthusiasm: A fact illustrated by the parade of slapper ensembles he rocks on IG (link below), the fact that Virgil Abloh tapped him to walk the Louis Vuitton SS20 runway in Paris…
… and the beautiful truth that Héctor has been a Blackbird Spyplane Cla$$ified Subscriber since the jump — now that’s taste!!
Also ?? He’s a longtime vegan & cutie-respecter who’s been in the tabloids for 🐿️ inviting cool SQUIRRELS into his house and feeding them cashews 🐿️ — we are talking certified blessed behavior straight up and down.
All of which means we were stoked to hop on an Encrypted SpyVideo call with Héctor the other day and chop it up about grail-tier Y2K wristwatches; un-cursing military boots by rocking them on meditative forest walks; brilliant Spanish design; taking the wrong lesson from Larry Clark’s KIDS; preparing to launch his own fashion line with some friends; and other “unbeatable topics.”
Blackbird Spyplane: On IG stories I recently posted a screenshot of you rocking a fantastic outfit on a talk show in Madrid. It was like a “cool cable-installation guy” look… Spy Nation went cuckoo about it in the DMs.
Héctor Bellerín: “That’s so cool. It’s funny, I was supposed to do that show in December with one of my teammates, and I had a whole ‘going on TV’ outfit planned, with this knitted shirt from Bode, and then my teammate tested positive for Covid like an hour before so we had to cancel.
“Then the other day I had a trip to Madrid and they said, Are you free to do it tomorrow? So I had to make do with what I had in my suitcase, just my ‘rolling around the streets’ look.
“The shirt’s from Camisas Manolo, a very old family business in Madrid. The trousers are these Issey Miyake suit trousers I wear so much they have holes in them — I love the drop, they’re so comfortable. The bomber a friend gave me, from Études, and the hat is from this arts collective I bumped into in Seville, young people who are making music and ceramics — they’re called Los Dominguito.”
Blackbird Spyplane: So hard. BTW you gave an interview during the early days of the invasion of Ukraine, remarking that it was horrific but that it also felt like there was a message coming down from on high that these are lives we should care about, which, as you pointed out, isn’t what we hear about lives in places like Palestine, Iraq and Yemen. There must be pressure on someone in yr position to keep yr mouth shut when it comes to thoughts like that, but it’s cool that you don’t.
Héctor Bellerín: “Ha ha, for me it was actually the other way around — I’ve been so outspoken by this point that I was getting messages saying, ‘Héctor, bro, why aren’t you talking about this?’
“I did have people the day after telling me, You didn’t have to say that. And I said, Of course I did. The invasion is horrible, and you want to help those people, but I have so many friends from Muslim countries that have been going through similar things for many years and there’s never been — we as players never had to put a shirt on before a game to support them. Different lives are valued with a different currency, and it was difficult for me to see. So when they asked me about it I had to say how I feel.”
Blackbird Spyplane: OK, let’s get into some beloved jawns of yours, starting with this old Nike sport watch. It’s so sick, I love the asymmetrical shape, and I’m glad you chose this because the luxury-watch game has gotten turbo supernova stupid over the past few years. It’s great to see a watch with a distinct personality that goes for next to nothing on eBay.
Héctor Bellerín: “Everyone who sees this watch says, Where the f**k did you get that?? In my industry, especially, people spend so much money on watches and jewelry, but to me it’s true what they say: You don’t need money to have style. I was obsessed with these watches when I was a kid, and finally, for my 11th or 12th birthday, my parents got me a digital one. I remember timing myself running from my house to my school, just to test the watch. I wish I still had that one, because they never die, but a little while ago I came across this analog one, which I think is rarer than the digital ones.”
Blackbird Spyplane: The shape and the molded-plastic case reminds me a bit of old Oakley Eye Jacket sunglasses …
Héctor Bellerín: “It’s got that Y2K look, yeah. When the Last Dance documentary came out I think it brought back a lot of looks from that time. But, bro, I literally sleep with this watch on. And I think I could wear it with a suit and it would still look f**king good.”
Blackbird Spyplane: I think yr right. Speaking of cheap gems, you told me you got these Magnum army boots secondhand for £5 “in a market in a small town close to London.” What’s the story?
Héctor Bellerín: “So, the last year and a half of when I was playing in London, I lived out on an 18th century farm, in a cottage, so I used to go for loads of walks — during quarantine that was my time, going into the forest, taking pictures. It was near a small town called St. Albans an hour north of London and they have a cool market there on Wednesdays, so I saw these and said, ‘Yo, people are paying a lot of money for boots that are basically identical’ — there are Yeezy boots that are, like, the spitting image of these.
“They were my size, and they felt like I’d owned them for years. I wore these every time I went for a walk, and now they remind me of that year I spent in nature, reconnecting with small things — every day I knew exactly what time the sun was setting. That had never mattered to me before. And there was a cherry tree in the garden that had these amazing pink flowers for two weeks, and the rest of the year it’s a skeleton, and I was so excited for those two weeks to come. Whether it was rainy or sunny, I was out there, just like, ‘I wanna be next to these flowers.’ I want to have memories like that and relationships like that with every thing I wear.”
Blackbird Spyplane: There’s a risk of slipping into tactical-operator cosplay with boots like these, but I love that U used them for meditative, kindvibed GORPY purposes. How did you work them into outfits?
Héctor Bellerín: “Most of the time I was wearing a North Face jacket and some jersey, with flared-out track suit bottoms from Aries tucked into the boots. I’d put a hat on and that’s how I’d roll through the woods.”
Blackbird Spyplane: D*mn, some old British guys in tweed and Wellies must have been stunned by the drip, king…
Héctor Bellerín: “Ha ha, literally! I’d meet old people out birdwatching and taking pictures — I never really became part of that scene, but I bet they miss me now.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Speaking of taking pictures, you sent over a copy of Larry Clark’s book Tulsa and an old Supreme tee with the cover image on it. You told me you got into Clark after watching KIDS — I first watched that with a buddy on VHS when we were like 14 and we definitely took the “wrong message” from it. We were like, “These are the coolest kids on earth.”
Héctor Bellerín: “That’s the f**ked-up thing about it! I was the same age as you when I first watched it, and I was like, ‘Yo, where is this place? I wanna live there. I wanna be this guy at the corner store putting a beer bottle down my pants.’ And I watch it now and I’m, like, ‘Wow, we were f**ked up.’ My friends and I were seen as ‘the bad kids’ growing up, but we were like, Yo, we aren’t doing that s**t. Then we watched Ken Park and it was like, Oh s**t, a whole different level.
“But yeah when I got into photography I got really into Larry Clark’s pictures — the feeling I get from them is similar to the nostalgia I get thinking back not just to my own experience of being a teenager but to an experience of being a teenager that I haven’t lived — if that makes any sense.”
Blackbird Spyplane: It does. Clark can depict a person or situation that might be in itself heightened or extreme, but it captures something that feels powerfully true about being that age…
Héctor Bellerín: “Yes, he represents that very well — the dark side of being a teenager, getting into trouble, all the things you have around, things you’re trying and experimenting with, when you start learning about sexuality. He portrays all those things. Probably in a way that might seem questionable in the time we’re living in now! But I think art is its own language, with different rules.
“So I had the book for years and I never knew he made this collaboration with Supreme. I was like, There’s Larry Clark merch?? I saw it on eBay or Grailed, it’s from maybe 15 years ago, and I knew I had to have it.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Let’s close things out with this 1990 Rizzoli book about contemporary Spanish Design and Architecture, which you copped when you were in the UK feeling homesick… Real talk, the Sagrada Familia might be the wildest building I’ve ever set foot in. The fact that it’s a “living building” that Gaudí never finished and that other architects have worked on since his death is fascinating…
Héctor Bellerín: “The first time I went was actually just 3 years ago — I’d never gone growing up — and when I walked inside, I cried. It didn’t make sense that a human brain and human hands could make this — and there was this 2 p.m. light streaming in. It was like a psychedelic experience.
“After living in the UK for 8 years, I started missing my country, which I’d never really felt before. All of a sudden I was listening to flamenco music, watching Almodóvar films, eating Spanish food, and around that time I found this book. It’s amazing. Usually with these kinds of coffee table books, people don’t actually read them but I know this one top to bottom.
“Do you know Ricardo Bofill? He’s this architect who passed away not long ago, he made some of the most amazing buildings I’ve seen, and he was from Barcelona. I get so much inspiration from this book, and the intersection of Spanish design and culture is one of the pillars of this project I’m working on now…”
Blackbird Spyplane: What’s the project?
Héctor Bellerín: “I’m working on a fashion brand. I don’t wanna say much, but I know a lot of people have been waiting for me to do this for years, and I’m finally taking the step. It’ll be a collective, me with a few friends. I’ve been working on it for the past year, learning 3D design, and it’s cool, man — my mom is a pattern cutter, and she knows so much, but the other day I was showing her how I make my 3D patterns and put them on an avatar and now she wants me to get her a course so she can go digital. I’ve been spending every hour I’m not playing football working on it.”
Blackbird Spyplane: That sounds like a blast — and yr not just slapping logos on tees…
Héctor Bellerín: “No, man, it’s gonna be so far from that. I truly love getting into the ins and outs of every garment, every detail, and the same way I talked about forming a relationship with those boots, or with that watch, I want people to get into that kind of mindset with these clothes. I won’t say more than that, but I’ll send you some pictures when it’s more real. Hopefully by the end of the year we’ll see something.”
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