When Pavi Casas first started flogging t-shirts while touring the bouldering hotspots of sunny California back in ‘11, he had no idea where it would take him - or, frankly, any ambition beyond funding his next climb. Casas and his friends were boulderers through and through: their time spent scouting out the best lines, navigating rough overhangs and taping up callused fingers was the best of their lives. Well, until the t-shirts took off, at least.
See, Pavi had been busy back home in Madrid collaborating with graffiti artists in the city’s urban backstreets, designing tees and hoodies with bold prints and graphics. They were unlike anything the West Coast bouldering community had ever seen and, thanks to Pavi’s obsession with climbing, they were technically astute too. Clothes fit for bouldering only really come around when they’re made for climbers by climbers; combine that with a unique, urban Spanish style, and Belmez was born.
Truth be told, Pavi didn’t actually form the brand officially until a few more trips abroad confirmed the success they’d discovered in the USA, but the seeds of Belmez had been sown. Back home in Madrid’s artístico district, mixing with the aforementioned graffiti artists and underground music producers, he experimented with new designs and fabrics, expanding the product line to include jeans, climbing equipment and whatever else they fancied experimenting with. That’s the beauty of the operation: Pavi and his collective of designers, stitchers and associates dream up what they, as climbers, would love to have, and then they make it. All original designs and adaptations are born from their time on the rocks.
These days they’re branded the ‘Dark Side of Climbing’ and thanks to their urban heritage and bold prints, theirs is a style that works just as well when savouring an espresso in a backstreet cafe as it does hanging off a rocky lip. In fact, there’s no better expression of that style than ‘The Darkside’, Belmez’s new HQ in suburban Madrid; equal parts climbing gym, local arts expo and a centre for Pavi’s climbing community, blessed by British rock climber Johnny Dawes with the Spanish brand’s homebrewed beer. Which, really, tells you everything you need to know about Belmez - for these guys, creating great climbing gear is only part of the story.
Despite their success, the guys behind Belmez - Pavi and his crew - are still in it for one thing: the climbing. They make what is perhaps the most comfortable and durable climbing apparel on the market because they love to climb, which means they manage to maintain an imitable calm and laidback demeanour along the way. These guys love what they do, and we love that they do it.
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