Mana Talk New Clothing Line & Importance of Voting: 'Latinos Have Witnessed Corruption at All Levels'

Chris Costoso
Fher Olvera of Mana wearing a shirt from the Ritos del Sol clothing line.

On the night they took the stage at Madison Square Garden during their 25-city Latino Power tour, the members of Maná entertained the 18,000-plus sold-out crowd with guitar riffs, reggaetón-remixed versions of their hits and passionate Mexican ballads. But as Dominicans, Mexicans, South Americans and Central Americans literally wrapped themselves in the flags of their respective nations, it was also evident that the Grammy Award-winning group's music symbolized pride and hope in what has been a politically contentious season.

This fall, Maná will continue making a statement through the launch of their first-ever fashion line, Ritos del Sol. Featuring everything from Dia de Los Muertos printed T-shirts ($24-$30) to rock-chic skinny jeans ($37-73), the line reflects the band's personal aesthetic while also doing some good. A percentage of all sales will go to the group's Selva Negra Foundation, the nonprofit it created in 1995 to raise awareness and help take action towards saving endangered species in their native Mexico.

As the tour wraps its final stop Friday in San Antonio, Texas, Billboard caught up with drummer Alejandro Gonzalez Trujillo to talk about the collection and the election season.

How did the band decide to start a fashion line?

A Mexican company called Rio Sul approached us to ask if we were interested in producing our own clothing line. We had wanted to collaborate with someone who already had an established company, especially one that was environmentally friendly and paid good wages. We loved the company we were working with and started putting together the designs about two years ago. It was a process of throwing ideas together. We wanted it to be very Mexican, with imagery of everything from the rainforest, animal prints, to the Day of the Dead. We wanted images of the moon and sun, and symbols of indigenous art that would reflect Mexico’s native cultures. A lot of names were thrown at us, but we went with Rituals of the Sun. It’s Mexican and has a lot of power.

How is the band’s style reflected in the line?

Fashion should be cool but also fun. The line reflects images and colors we all really like. It was a fun process to collaborate with the designer, Daniel Mee, who has previously worked for brands like Marks & Spencer and Arcadia, because we’re four different individuals as a band with different tastes, and you can see it in the line. Each one has one way of expressing his fashion. The T-shirts are in everything from neutrals like blacks, grays, to the military prints that Sergio likes to wear to wild brighter colors and animal prints that Juan and Fher like. I’m about anything that has skulls, skeletons or indigenous paintings of ribcages. I love artsy abstract style and contemporary art. One '80s pop-art T-shirt line that inspired me was black with white painted on drops and stars. We designed one that was white with black paint drops. If you look closely at the line, there’s something for everyone.

Why is it important that part of the proceeds benefit Selva Negra, the environmental organization the band co-founded in 1995?

Humanity has destroyed the environment over the past sixty years. If we created the problem, we have to be part of the solution. Sea turtles are endangered, so we are committed to benefiting them with the line -- every item you buy goes to saving a sea turtle. One of the organization’s recent projects focused on raising 140,000 sea turtle eggs to release along the West Coast. [The organization also helps with the reforestation of Southern Oaxaca and helps vulnerable communities access and develop green gardens.]

What are your hopes for the collection in the coming year?

We just launched and we’re still on our first step. Fashion is about art, design and creativity. It’s just another extension of our brand, and we’re still developing where we’ll be into the next year.  I would love to see us doing cool leather jackets in the future.

What has motivated the band to be so outspoken about the Latino vote throughout this tour cycle?

We need to use our platform to help with registration and with getting out the vote. Latinos have witnessed corruption at all levels in their home nations, so many think their vote doesn’t count. We try to ask the question:  Who is going to represent you in the Senate or in Congress? It’s not just a matter of the presidency. We try to share the message that someone who works in manual labor has just as important a vote as Warren Buffett. The Latino community has helped build the country, politically, economically and societally. A vote can be life-changing.

What’s the response been like from the community?

We’re not just rock musicians; we’re also citizens. We were inspired by John Lennon, Bob Marley, Bono and Sting. We always saw how they took advantage of that platform to say things that are important. We see the impact in the press we get. If they discuss issues that matter to us in articles, we know in some way we’ve gotten our message across. [Lead singer] Fernando [Olvera] always says you never know if the future woman or man who will be president is in the crowd. We need to channel positive energy to inspire new presidents.