“Being located in the Tenderloin offers the student body at UC Hastings a fascinating glimpse of San Francisco from the multitude of cultures, to the grit and the grime, to the contrasting beauty of City Hall. You’re right in the heart of the City,” says Nate Torres ’07, co-owner of the Tilted Brim boutique, which is releasing a limited edition set of UC Hastings-inspired merchandise.
“This experience of being a student of the Tenderloin is unique to UC Hastings and what we were trying capture with this collection.”
Nate himself is truly a student of the Tenderloin, both as a graduate of UC Hastings and someone with deep family ties to the community. His mother grew up on O’Farrell Street and Nate spent much of his childhood between the City and the Peninsula. “The Tenderloin is a unique neighborhood and represents the full range of both the good and bad of what San Francisco has to offer,” says Nate. “While there are a lot of challenges in the Tenderloin, it also has a rich history of activism and civic engagement because the residents confront their issues and don’t try to hide from them. Their efforts are supported by pillars in the community from small businesses and larger institutions like UC Hastings.”
Now a solo practitioner focusing on criminal defense after a decade at Morrison & Foerster LLP, Nate was inspired to go to law school and become an attorney after watching the O.J. Simpson trial on television. “The O.J. trial brought so many social and political issues involving race, class, gender, and inequality to the forefront of society. It also showed me that lawyers had the ability to address these issues, make an impact, and help people in need,” says Nate. “It’s a little embarrassing, but I remember actually telling everyone at my LEOP orientation that I wanted to become the Chicano Johnnie Cochran after I graduate.”
So how did this attorney come about opening a shop in the Tenderloin? For Nate, fashion was something that always intrigued him growing up. As an undergrad at UC Berkeley, he spent his free time creating small batches of t-shirts and sweatshirts. However, he never really saw an opportunity or future in fashion design as a profession. It wasn't until meeting his business partner Justin Bautista that he gained the confidence to pursue his creative passion in a more serious capacity.
“I had known Justin for years, but in 2014 we decided to move forward with our concept of designing and selling sweatshirts, t-shirts, and hats with an athletic heritage, varsity type of feel. After some hard work and growing interest from the community, we were able to open the doors to the Tilted Brim store at the end of 2016,” recalls Nate. “We chose to open in the Tenderloin because of our personal history to the neighborhood and because the community affords a sometimes rare opportunity for first time business owners and sons of immigrants to see their business thrive in San Francisco.”
When given the opportunity to design and sell a collection of UC Hastings-inspired merchandise, Nate was honored. “I had a fantastic experience at UC Hastings. It allowed me to stay in San Francisco to receive a strong legal education and set me up for success as a lawyer,” says Nate. “The only thing I felt missing at times was that complete collegiate feel that usually comes with an undergrad sports program or traditional college campus. My hope is that this collection can help harness that communal school spirit and create a bond between those wearing the gear on campus.”
The initial capsule collection features a sweatshirt, hoodie, two t-shirts, and a hat with original designs that are now available at the Tilted Brim store (706 Larkin Street) or online at tiltedbrimsf.com. Twenty-five percent (25%) of the profits from the sales of the UC Hastings-inspired merchandise will be donated to the UC Hastings Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP).
“We’re excited about the opportunity to collaborate with UC Hastings on this project, which directly makes that connection between the school and the Tenderloin," says Nate. "So far the collection has been really well received and we hope to keep expanding the products and our relationship with UC Hastings in the future.”