Chris Printup, a founder of the streetwear brand Born X Raised, which became a fixture in Los Angeles’s fashion scene, died on Wednesday morning at a hospital in Albuquerque, N.M. He was 42 and lived in Los Angeles.
He died of his injuries from a car accident in Albuquerque on Sunday, a representative of the brand confirmed by phone.
Mr. Printup, known as Spanto, founded Born X Raised with Alex Erdmann, known as 2Tone. The brand quickly drew the city’s creative class to events like the Born X Raised Sadie Hawkins Winter Formal.
“Born x Raised is like a love letter to the city that I once grew up in, that’s gone now,” Mr. Printup, who was Native American, said in an episode of “The Canvas: Los Angeles,” a documentary series about the city’s artists. “This is me. This is who I’ll always be. And if you don’t like it, we don’t care.”
Born on June 6, 1981, in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Venice to Butch Mudbone of the Seneca Nation, and Cheryl Printup of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, Mr. Printup experienced poverty as a child, cycling in and out of juvenile detention and working as a drug dealer, he said in the documentary. Eventually, he wound up in a supermax prison, he said, where he decided to start Born X Raised.
The label, Mr. Printup said in the documentary — part of which took place on the set of a commercial shoot — was born out of the desire to “shine a light” on the Los Angeles of his childhood, especially Venice before it was gentrified, which he described as the antithesis of Tinseltown. “I had an idea and a feeling and an emotion and I turned it into this,” he said, adding that he had never studied clothing design, or dreamed of visiting fashion events in Europe. “There was no plan, there was no business model.”
In the episode, he described his life, starting with the struggles of growing up poor and then watching his hometown change. He worked as a craftsman in the sheet metal worker’s union, Local 33, he said, adding that he had started the brand as a “way to channel my frustration and anger.” In 2013, he and his partner started selling the line at Union, a Los Angeles clothing store.
Shortly after starting the brand, Mr. Printup received a cancer diagnosis. He underwent chemotherapy and lost 100 pounds and his hair, he wrote in a post on the brand’s Instagram in December. He worked all the way through the treatment.
“What I’m getting at is life is hard for everyone and I want anyone to know, that if you’re feeling discouraged or like life has given you too many handicaps – ITS OKAY. you’re going to be fine things will get better,” Mr. Printup said, adding that he had gone into remission.
Mr. Erdmann, the business partner, described Mr. Printup as an “indefatigable” force of nature who was gregarious and loved by all those he worked with. He said that Mr. Printup had been in Albuquerque for a traditional Native American ceremony, and that his father,, Mr. Mudbone, had died just two months earlier after a similar ceremony, also in a car accident. Born X Raised will likely hold an event to honor Mr. Printup, Mr. Erdmann said by phone on Wednesday.
“We’re not going to fold. We’re not going to stop telling this story. We’re just going to change how we do it, because we no longer have him,” Mr. Erdmann said. Of Mr. Printup, he added, “Every second day he had breath to do things, he would.”
In addition to his mother, Mr. Printup is survived by his wife, Anna Printup; a daughter, Marilyn A. Printup; two sons, David R. Garcia and Carter Printup-Specht; three stepbrothers, Cai Printup, Casey Printup and Willie Mudbone; a stepsister, Zyanya Mudbone; and his stepmother, Caroline Mudbone; ; , a brand representative said.
In “The Canvas,” Mr. Printup noted that had always been haunted by self doubt, but had persisted through it. “When are they going to figure out that I am not good at this?” he said. “I think anybody intelligent questions themself.”
Christine Hauser contributed reporting.