Tribal Gear

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Tribal Gear
Industry Fashion
Founded San Diego, United States (1989)
Founder Bobby Ruiz
Headquarters San Diego, United States
Key people
Bobby Ruiz
Products Apparel and Accessories

Tribal Gear, Tribal Streetwear or simply Tribal was launched in 1989 by Bobby Ruiz and his brother Joey as a Southern California lifestyle inspired clothing brand.


Bobby Ruiz started Tribal Street wear on November 20, 1989 with his brother Joey. When Bobby was looking for sponsors for a graffiti art/benefit show in San Diego, Carl Arellano, who had a silk screening business offered to sponsor the show. "It was at that point when we became friends and started to talk about him getting involved with Tribal", says Bobby.[1]

Bobby had a concept with artwork. Both Joey and Bobby started with blank white T-shirts that they had bought from people on the streets and factories. Joey was designing tattoo graphics and Bobby started designing graphics too which they used to apply on the T-shirts. Inspired by his graffiti background Bobby wanted to use strong graphics that speak for themselves.[2]

Most graphics were Aztec and Mayan influenced. This is how they came up with the name Tribal.[2]

They started working with graffiti artists who made hip hop inspired graphics. Tribal’s start was rough but Bobby and Carl pulled through it and succeeded in making Tribal successful. Tribal expanded from T-shirts to apparel and accessories. Now almost 20 years after its start, Tribal Street wear is still representing the streets internationally.[2]


Latino community[edit]

Tribal Street wear is a lifestyle clothing brand that has made an impact from West to East U.S.A. and even overseas.[2][3] Tribal became popular in countries like Germany and Japan where the interest in Latino culture has paved the way for California designers to sell street wear.[4]

Bobby wanted his clothing to appeal to everyone, not just Hip Hop heads and Latinos.[2] “We never boxed ourselves in by using one thing that we are into”, explains Bobby “We have a skate team, b-boy team, graffiti artist, and ultimate fighters”.[2] Tribal finds inspiration in graffiti, Hip Hop music and the street culture which are characteristic of the South-Californian Latino lifestyle.


Tribal is a supporter of breaking, b-boying or commonly known as break dancing all over the world. The tough style of Tribal matches the Breakdancing aesthetics.[5]

Over the years Tribal has sponsored Breakdancing events and dancers such as Lil Rock, Moskito, Ruen, Crumbs, Lil Bob, Rainen, Franky Flav, Nabil, and Anthrax.[6]


Ever since the inception, Tribal Streetwear has been surrounded by renowned artists. Whether a piece from Los Angeles, California artists "OG Abel" or "Mr. Cartoon" (both legends in the arte and lowrider scene) or "Daim" or "Seak" (who are from Germany) or San Diego, California, hometown homeboys "Hasl," "Brisk" or "Pursue," the Tribal warehouse where the artwork now provides a good example of the power of urban, hip-hop street art.[7]

When Bobby started Tribal he had a concept with artwork. His background as a graffiti artist inspired him to use strong graphics that speak for themselves. Tribal provides a canvas where artists can express their creativity. Over the years the lifestyle brand has provided work for as many as 200 graffiti artists.[8]

Tribal artists[edit]

Jay Contreras

OG Abel[edit]

Abel, grew up poor in a rugged section of South Central L. A. and lost a brother to street violence.[9] He attended Los Angeles Trade Tech to take courses in graphic design and he's turned his hobby into a business, which has him working alongside some of the world's most power brands. From Fiat, Lowrider Magazine to Tribal and Converse.[9]

AS. Vince[edit]

Vince, is a Filipino graffiti artist based in Makati, Philippines. His hobby is wall painting when Bobby Ruiz asked him to participate in Tribal Streetwear. He joined the team and participated in many T-shirt Design Competitions. He said "I felt special that time". He was involved in different illegal graffiti art all over Makati City.

Mr. Cartoon[edit]

Mark Machado, better known as Mister Cartoon, is a Mexican American tattoo artist and graffiti artist based in Los Angeles, California. Machado designed the logo for Cypress Hill. He has tattooed the bodies of Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Eminem, Method Man, Gabriel McDonald, Scott Raynor, Justin Timberlake, and Beyoncé Knowles.[10]

In addition to tattoos, Machado's work has been used by Nike, Tribal, Toyota, T-Mobile and in Grand Theft Auto.[11]

Munk One[edit]

Munk One a.k.a. JoseMercado is a contemporary American Illustrator and Fine artist. He is most noted for creating Artwork for bands including Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, My Chemical Romance, and many more who’s merchandise can be seen throughout the world. Munk’s fine art paintings in gallery shows have gained much attention with no signs of slowing.[12]


Tribal has a heavy assortment of support from artists. By building relationships Bobby was able to expose his line to consumers via celebrities.TV Famous artists like Rock Steady Crew, Korn, Delinquent Habits and Linkin Park have worked with Tribal.[2]

Other famous supporters of the brand include Snoop Dogg, KRS1, Gotti, P.O.D., Korn, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Staind, Los Lobos, Crazy Legs, Tony Touch, Isaac Ruiz and Q-Unique.[13]


The Tribal collection is sold in selected stores in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Philippines, Russia, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States of America.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Interview Bobby Ruiz
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Tribal Streetwear, American Latino TV, December 8, 2007
  3. ^ American Latino TV Shines the Light on Latinos Online, Latin Heat Online, March 12, 2007
  4. ^ Clothing with a culture, Los Angeles Times, August 20, 1999 by Jose Cardenas
  5. ^ Circle Sensation 2006
  6. ^ Tribal Gear Killafornia Breakdancing DVD
  7. ^ Tribal Gear art scene by Marco A. Patino
  8. ^ Conference Views Graffiti’s Creative Side, October 03, 2003 by Los Angeles Times
  9. ^ a b "SHOCK MANSION INTERVIEWS OG ABEL", 2009, Shock Mansion
  10. ^ Mister Cartoon's Growing Tattoo Empire, January 1, 2003 by Michele Norris
  11. ^ Mister Cartoon Draws Brand Interest, Brandweek, February 13, 2006
  12. ^ Munk One's Homepage
  13. ^ Bighouse clothing: Tribal Streetwear

External links[edit]