LA Fashion Icon Chris “Spanto” Printup Leaves Behind a Legacy of Sincerity

Featured image credit: Born X Raised

As much as we love Los Angeles, it does have more than its fair share of plasticity. Yet, if you dig through the influencers, TikTok challengers, and nepo babies, you can still catch glimpses of the city’s true soul. Sadly, one of the clearest windows into the beating heart of authentic Los Angeles culture unexpectedly passed away on June 28 at the relatively young age of 42. Chris “Spanto” Printup was a beacon of community, culture, and LA fashion. With his instantly recognizable Born X Raised streetwear line, he drew attention to the issues that mattered to him and his community. And though his sincerity never wavered, his road was rarely easy.

Born X Raised Elevates LA Fashion with Sincere Streetwear

Photo credit: Born X Raised

It was 2013 when Spanto first launched Born X Raised; a clothing line that honored the original spirit of Los Angeles. But this brand was always about more than LA fashion for its creator. He was communicating an impassioned cry that was in the hearts of generational Angelenos, many of whom didn’t recognize the city around them. 

As Spanto himself admitted, Born X Raised arose from pure vision. He freefell into his concept with no guidewires or safety nets; no investors backing him, no business models providing structure. Initially, it was just a man and a car trunk packed with 36 t-shirts. But those shirts led to other shirts. And soon, the car trunk was replaced by boutique clothing store, Union; the first establishment to carry Born X Raised. 

Fast forward through the decade to hotly anticipated collabs with the Dodgers and the Rams selling out in mere minutes. Any event Born X Raised hosted was a guaranteed go… assuming you were lucky enough to make the cut. Sure, there were celebrities there. But Spanto never forgot where he came from because he never left. His vision was always first and foremost, and the brightest shine that Hollywood could muster would never distract him from it. 

A Potent Spark of Inspiration Penetrating the Darkness

Photo credit: Born X Raised

Spanto grew up in Venice surrounded by art, music… and poverty. His mother, a true Renaissance woman, was a writer, a visual artist, and a musician. His father, who lived on the streets of Venice, busked on the boardwalk, sonically painting summer sunsets with classic blues. In desperation, Spanto turned to selling dope to keep his head above water. 

It was while in a jail cell, as far away from his place as an LA fashion legend as he could get, that his vision came to him with stunning clarity. Trying to meet the ideals of the alien landscape Los Angeles had become only dragged him down. It was when he turned back to the original community and culture of the city that he found something worth his investment. 

Born X Raised became his valentine to the golden vistas of an LA lost in time; a way of breathing life back into a city long dead. It was a brand soaked in authenticity and, with that authenticity, the tears of a longing heart. 

His community recognized that lamentation. After all, it was in their hearts too. And the moment he opened the trunk of his car in 2013, it was also emblazoned on their chests with pride.

The Unforgiving Road Forward

Photo credit: Born X Raised

Yet, Spanto’s dream wasn’t easily realized. Despite the trials and sacrifices of clawing himself out of a stacked system, the gods demanded more from this westside Odysseus who only wanted to find his way home again. In July 2013, Spanto was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), a terminal illness that demanded costly treatments. Meanwhile, Born X Raised was still in its infancy, bringing in barely enough money to sustain itself. 

In 2017, Spanto was still undergoing chemotherapy. While his body struggled to recover, his finances were utterly crippled. Many visionaries would read the writing on the cosmic wall. But rather than turning away from Born X Raised, Spanto took his bedridden moments as an opportunity to forge the future of LA fashion. 

Working closely with his business partner and creative director Alex 2 Tone, Spanto kept his focus on Born X Raised’s next season even from his hospital room. As mounting medical bills took his home and car, he kept his eyes fixed to the golden hues of his LA. By 2018, Spanto was cancer-free and on the path to pulling himself from financial ruin as Born X Raised continued to pick up inertia. 

Bringing Authenticity to LA Fashion

Photo credit: Born X Raised

Spanto was rare in that his dream never compromised reality. Rather, his dream engaged with reality. He found inspiration in his Apache and Seneca heritage, often referenced in the designs of his streetwear. 

That realness even found its way into his marketing campaigns. Instead of using traditionally glossy models, he used family members and friends to showcase his designs. Who better to usher in an LA fashion brand so completely infused with authenticity than real Angelenos? Likewise, when Born X Raised eventually went on to collaborate with Levis on a collection, Spanto took it as a chance to pay homage to his late father. 

While Spanto encompassed all of LA in his vision, it was obvious that his heart was in Venice. He said that his family had lived in the community for over a century, so his roots ran deep. Born X Raised became his outlet to express the multitude of feelings that he associated with the changes he’d been watching consume his neighborhood throughout his life. 

Finding the Blessing in the Mouth of a Curse

Despite the poverty that encompassed so much of his life, Spantos couldn’t help looking back fondly. He even credited that poverty in being instrumental to bringing his beloved vision to life. In adversity, he discovered his voice… and it was a voice that found echoes throughout his community. 

In a 2022 interview with Fuse, he put it best by saying, “Growing up poor, you have to have an identity. You have to have something that you can call your own, because you don’t have material items.” And in the last decade of his life, Spanto took what he called his own and shared it with his community. 

Giving Until the Very End

Earlier this year, Spanto was approached about a collaboration with Nike: the Born X Raised Nike SB Dunks. As part of his pledge to the community, he vowed to donate a pair to each member of the graduating class of his alma mater, Venice High School. It was a gesture that exemplified Spanto’s spirit, blending humanitarian efforts, civic pride, and a chic taste for fashion. We can only imagine in what other ways his heart would guide him to bless those around him. 

On June 25, Spanto was involved in an automobile accident in Albuquerque. It was just months after his father passed the same way. Three days later, at 7:56am MDT, Chris “Spanto” Printup was pronounced dead, leaving an unfathomable void in not just the LA fashion community, but the city as a whole. Having overcome poverty, legal trouble, a terminal prognosis, and the broken heart of a fading city, Spanto’s sudden passing feels particularly cruel. 

Photo credit: Born X Raised

Nike issued a statement announcing the postponement of the Born X Raised Nike SB Dunks in the wake of the tragedy. In the meantime, a family grieves a son, a father, a husband. And a city grieves a legend. Born X Raised redefined streetwear by filtering it through uncompromising sincerity. It will no doubt continue to inspire through such a pure sentiment, even as yet another window into the original LA closes forever.  

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