J Balvin knows a thing or two about starting from the bottom in the United States. Before becoming a staple in reggaetón, he was Jose Álvaro Osorio, an undocumented worker painting houses, trying to make a living in the U.S.
Fast-forward to 2022, and Balvin — now a Grammy-nominated musician with countless hits — has found a way to give back to his roots.
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On Tuesday, Miller Lite announced a new iteration of the brand’s partnership with Balvin: a streetwear collection, named BodegaWear, designed for the runs to the neighborhood convenience store. Most importantly to Balvin, all proceeds from the streetwear line sales are set to go to the Acción Opportunity Fund, which supports corner stores and Latinx-owned businesses.
“Even though I have this different life today, I can’t forget about my beginnings and where I come from,” he tells Rolling Stone. “When you go to the bodega, there are a lot of people there that don’t have papers — that’s just the reality. Imagine a day without Latinos. The day would be frozen.”
To celebrate the launch of the new line, we spoke to Balvin about his favorite fashion trends this summer (“Every time I pull up in all-black I feel just like Batman.”), his recent collabs with Anitta and Ed Sheeran, and the meetup he had with his hero, Jay- Z:
J Balvin is all about the Latino gang. Talk to me about BodegaWear. Why is giving back so important?
With us Latinos, that’s our thing. Going to la tienda. We just transferred our DNA to this collab, keeping it street. I know the struggles. I used to be [undocumented] working here, painting houses. I know how it feels. I have this empathy for my people because I know how