Andreina Mendez, aka @Bombiris, aka &♛ (which is the Trap artist name I gave her but she has yet to adopt) is the kind of Instagram “it girl” that you want to be friends with. From her beginnings as a fashion blogger (see: My Idaho Closet), to her newest project, the online vintage clothing store AS IF, the Venezuelan native exudes a down-to-earth, yet cool-as-hell vibe in everything she does – and boy, does she do a lot. In addition to occasionally blogging and running her store, she writes for E! Online Latino as a fashion columnist, styles mannequins for the windows of local clothing stores, and DJs a weekly set at 416 Snack Bar.
On Instagram, this hustle-heavy lifestyle is clearly evident in her public persona. Her clothes look like they’re actually lived in, her hair is no-fuss, her poses irreverent and goofy, and yet her style is always on point and entirely hers. We met up on a recent sunny and sublime Sunday afternoon at Parque Centenario to discuss personal style, vintage shopping secrets, feminism, and more.
So how did it all start?
As a blogger, people always asked me about the clothes I wore, and that’s how I decided to start selling them. The Bombiris page I started 6 years ago, just as a personal Instagram page.
So you were one of the earlier Instagram users.
Yeah, when they used the sepia filters (laughs). I have photos from back then.
Tell me more about how your personal Instagram account became an *Instagram account.*
It was gradual at first, and then it grew a lot. I had 2000 new followers when I was included in an article on Buzzfeed about the best female vintage fashion bloggers on Instagram. I couldn’t believe it. I woke up one day and I watched the followers climb from 100, to 200, and I was like ‘what the fuck?!?’ I’m gonna google it because something happened.”
Where does the name Bombiris come from?
Bombiris because in Venezuela people called me ‘Bombacha’. When I started Djing in my 20s with a group of girls, everyone gave themselves a nickname, and since I wore puffed sleeves, one of my friends started calling me ‘Bombacha’, and I was like ‘okay, I’ll be DJ Bombacha’. From there on, nobody knew me as Andre, but as Bombacha. But then I came here, and we were at the Luna Park, and a friend called me screaming ‘hey, Bombacha*, come here!’. That’s when I thought, ‘nope, I’m done’. And I switched to Bombiris.
*Argentine slang for panties
When did you start doing the Asif store?
I started last year around September because – I don’t know why I started. I took the plunge. I was like ‘yeah, I’m gonna do it’ because I wanted to to do it for a long time. It was like a breaking point for me because I got fired, so I was like ‘I need to start a business or do something because I need to start making my own money without depending on anybody. So, that’s why I started it. Plus, I always loved going vintage hunting.’
So what do you look for in clothes?
If it’s vintage, I like for it to be a mix of unique but also usable. Sometimes I buy things that are super unique but then I can’t sell them, as there’s a very small public of people that buy things that are out there and extravagant. Generally, I try to find pieces that are not super 80s, rather a mix with something a bit more 90s, with simpler lines. We’re living in an age in which people are putting more value on clothes, and are more open to used/thrifted clothes. I try to take advantage of this. The rest is used, that I bought in fast fashion stores.
What is your philosophy towards fast fashion?
The truth is that I’m not going to say that I don’t consume it and that we shouldn’t, because unfortunately, my economy and my salary don’t allow me to buy designer clothing “de autor” — even if i would love to. So I have to buy clothes that I can use a lot and isn’t too expensive. So yeah, I know the story of fast fashion but I don’t really have an option, personally. I would love to use clothes from independent designers, of higher quality, but this is what I can achieve with my current income. For example, when there are really trendy things that I like, I buy them in the fast fashion store because it’ cheap and when I get bored, I sell it.
What would be your advice for smartly shopping fast fashion? What things do you look for?
If there is something super trendy, I look for it there, and if not, then I look for super-basic things, like a black pair of pants, a sweater. I use mono-colored things a lot. I almost never buy patterns, unless they’re stripes or something super classic.
So you avoid patterns as a rule in general?
Yeah, exactly. I almost never buy patterns because in fast fashion, it’s such a large scale…if you wear something with a very unique pattern you’re going to see 500 more people with the same thing. And then you don’t want to wear it anymore.
When you’re looking in places like this, in used clothes stands, what are you looking for?
Sometimes I go to parks, sometimes I go to the little places in Abasto, sometimes I go to churches because they sell donations, and I get vintage things at a really good price. In these places, I’ll examine whether the quality of the material is good; like this dress is vintage but it’s not cotton, it won’t get damaged quickly. With vintage cotton it gets easily worn-out, so you have to look for fabrics that are thicker. If it’s winter, really thick fabrics, and in summer, generally speaking, I wouldn’t recommend cotton but something more like this (points to dress).
I’m also looking for silhouettes. I love vintage for the silhouettes and there are lots of vintage pieces that use the same silhouettes as right now — so you can be super current, using things from the past, and apart from that, you feel special for having found this unique piece that nobody else has. And that’s another thing I love about vintage clothing – I don’t like to look the same as everyone else, and it gives me enormous happiness and satisfaction to find something super cheap and super amazing. It makes me feel like the queen of the world.
So there’s something about the treasure finding, the actual process of it.
Yeah, because not everyone likes to go through the racks, the search. I love it. There are places that I go to that have clothing in heaps — and the other day I found Levi’s 501 vintage for 60 pesos. Like “whaaat!?” And it looked great on.
So how would you describe your fashion? How would you describe your look?
It’s going to sound super cliche, but I really believe it’s quite eclectic — I don’t like to fit into any one stereotype. For example, I love a lot of rock music but I don’t like to dress all in black, and if I go to a concert I try not to do it. Your way of dressing defines you – I like vintage and relaxed looks more than anything. During the day I like a deconstructed look, and at night I like to go into production mode, put on hoop earrings and super big shoulderpads – everything exaggerated. I don’t put myself in a box.
Do you have any signature fashion move that you do a lot?
Sunglasses. That’s my thing. That and I use a lot of sneakers because when I moved here I started walking a lot everywhere, and I had to adapt.
Buenos Aires Streetstyle.
Exactly. It just so happened that at the moment I was personally transitioning to wearing sneakers, there was the boom in street style and the sneakers became super fashionable.
What’s your favorite fashion trend happening right now?
Right now, I think it’s the small sunglasses. I believe they are super impractical and I love how everyone thinks they’re super cool when they wear them. But you have to own it. At the same time, it’s funny, because in 5 years everyone’s gonna feel very ridiculous in those photos back then.
What would be your advice for people who want to go to flea markets or vintage thrift stores?
Okay, first, don’t wear what I’m wearing right now. Try to be more low profile, I’m wearing a vintage dress, sunglasses…
So you wouldn’t wear this when you’re actually shopping?
No, when I’m shopping I’m very low key because if they see that you’re into fashion, they charge you more.
Oh my god, that’s so smart, I never thought of that before.
Right, with this on they’ll charge me twice as much.
Also try not to look excited, right?
Exactly, never look excited.
I always pose like that.
Why do you do that?
I used to be a blogger and then I started hating the blogger girls because we were all uniform, all wearing the same thing, and we were supposed to be different because we were showing personal style but yet it was like we were wearing a uniform. That came with a pose because they were all posing the same, I just couldn’t. So I started doing stupid poses in every picture that I’m in.
One of my favorite things about your Instagram is that it’s not pretentious and it doesn’t take itself so seriously.
Yeah, I hate when people think that I’m pretentious. I cannot take it. Because I’m not, I hate when people take me seriously (laughs).
On that note – what are your stain removal tips?
Toothpaste, baking soda…
What fast fashion trends now do you hate?
Ugh, every single one. Because it gets massive and people don’t even care if they look good with it or not. That’s what I sort of hate, like ‘dude, just be yourself’. I always say ‘try to be unique, find your personality, blah, blah, blah’ but a once a friend said to me ‘what is wrong with being normal and wanting to fit in?’ and she does have a point but me, I prefer looking different and standing out.
You don’t do a lot of male fashion, right?
I don’t because it’s very hard in Argentina to find men’s vintage. So, what I do is if I find a rare piece at a very good price, I get it. It’s not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t find good clothes. I mean, here in Parque Centenario we just saw those shirts but they probably cost a price that I cannot resale.
Who do you follow on Instagram? Who are your favorites?
I follow a lot of Spanish girls: Miranda Makaroff, I love her, she’s very unique and has a humble personality even though she’s fucking famous, and she has a lot of fun, and she loves being naked and show the female body as a temple and she’s also an artist so I love her. And she’s very funny, which is essential for me.
I follow these girls that have a very simple style, I also follow a lot of Parisian girls, because right now I’m more into simple clothes but pretty, so I follow like Adenora, Jeanne Damas. Also Simi & Haze, they’re Spanish and they’re twins, they’re like 18 years old. They’re friends with Kendall and Bella Hadid but they’re like super fun all the time and they have the most amazing, rich life, but they dress very cool – they wear sneakers all the time and oversized cargo pants with tops. I really like them. Oh, and Juliette Lewis.
Do you feel any affinity with any certain decade?
I think mostly 80s because I love the colors and the exaggeration of everything. A lot of drama, a lot of makeup, a lot of clothes, shoulders, the waist like this (gestures) all super tight. It all seems like that era was just too much fun. I love the gym clothes from then, the leotards and the lycra, how they wore things like legwarmers to exercise.
How has Buenos Aires influenced your fashion sense?
When I came from Venezuela, I really was impressed with the style here. You’d see people wearing stuff that — mind you, I’m from Venezuela and people are more conservative and if you wore something that was a little bit uncommon… I don’t know, once I was told my style was ‘psychedelic’, but that’s because they don’t understand the way I dress and that’s the only word they could come up with. It’s totally unrelated to psychedelia, but okay.
So you feel freer to explore.
Exactly, that. Buenos Aires gave me the freedom to dress how I wanted, without being looked at, which was wonderful. Most people don’t look at you and that’s fantastic because you can be yourself. Obviously, if you receive ‘compliments’ from your fashionable friends that’s great but, for example, in Venezuela, people would look at you and criticize you, like going ‘oh, look what she’s wearing’. It was absurd. That doesn’t happen here. That’s how Buenos Aires influenced me. It was good, it gave me some freedom.
The other day I went to a gay club, and I was wearing a see-thru tank top that showed my boobs. Obviously, I wore something on top of that on the bus but when I got there, I took it off and no-one was staring. I felt so liberated. It doesn’t happen all the time, but I’ve seen lots of people here on the street that make me go ‘wow, I wanna wear that’.
So who are some of your style icons?
Brigitte Bardot, Twiggy, early Madonna, any icon from the 80s. In the 90s, Julia Roberts. More than anything, actresses from the 90s and 80s. I follow Instagram accounts that post images from that time because it’s the style that I most identify with.
What’s your favorite piece of clothing currently?
Right now, it’s this leather jacket with huge shoulder pads. I look like a rugbier. That belonged to my aunt when she was young. She gave it to me and it has a lot of sentimental value. I wore it last night, people thought it was the coolest.
When did you became interested in fashion? When did it start?
I think it’s always been like that, because my mom sew. She made dresses for my Barbies, and I would dress up the Barbies, cut their hair, so yeah, it’s always been like that. The thing is, I didn’t know you could off of this, of working in fashion. I thought it was just dressing, and having fun with the clothes and whatnot. Then it gradually became a job, a wonderful job, which made me get into it a lot more.
What do you see as the future of your Insta, of your store?
Right now, I hope I’ll be famous in about 2 months (laughs). I don’t know, I really like Instagram, and I would love to get paid by brands and stuff, but the thing is you have to have a lot of dedication to it and you have to lie a little because the reality is that a lot of the influencers right now bought the followers. There’s like a dark web about influencers right now, like, I found out and it’s dark. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that, because all my life since I started the blog, I’ve been trying to be this very real person, transparent person, so if I do it it’s because I sold my soul to the devil. Maybe I’ll do it, I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it, because if they’re doing it and they’re getting paid, I should do it.
How much does it cost to buy followers?
f you wanna get like a 100,000, you need U$S 1000. If you wanna get 3,000 it’s not that expensive. It’s a crazy world.
Does that make a difference, from 9,000 to 12,000?
Actually, you have less than 10,000, a lot of people don’t take you seriously. Once you hit that 10,000 number that changes. It’s crazy. It’s stupid that here in Argentina, especially, or maybe in Latin America, I don’t know, they don’t check if you have real followers. They just check the number. You can buy them and people will hire because they don’t check if they’re real or not. You can buy likes, you can buy comments, it’s an insane world. You have groups on Instagram, like chat communities, where you send your picture to the group of bloggers and they all comment to elevate the reach of your picture. And then you have to do it for them, to create engagement. But it’s not real, it’s a crazy world.
So, the future of my Instagram is probably going to be like the same thing, I’m trying every day to be less posed, more like ‘whatever, I just want you to see my clothes’. That’s what I care about the most. Check the earrings and stuff instead of going ‘oh you’re so pretty’.
I haven’t really thought about the future of my Instagram, it’s going to be whatever comes. I always try, though, to make it a pretty feed, with nice colors – I’m very into colors.
How do you see the intersection nowadays between womens fashion and feminism in spaces like Instagram and Facebook?
If I have followers, sometimes I really have to talk about it, because it’s gonna sound ridiculous but there really are girls that read what I write and they write me all the time via private message so they really hear what I have to say. Even though I don’t say a lot, when I have the need, for example, the other day I saw this picture of a book and they had to cover the nipple because if you show women’s nipples it’s sexual and they delete your post. And it’s stupid, you know? So that day I really had to repost and talk about it, I even translated the thing and it was very long but yeah, sometimes I feel the need to do it.
When the abortion march happened, I found an image and posted it on As If’s Instagram page. It was a drawing of a clothes hanger (which is supposedly used for doing abortions), with the green background, so it matched the site and at the same time you could make a stand. I said to myself ‘yes, I have to do it’. Sometimes it happens when talking about Venezuela, I have friends who have lots of followers and there are horrible things happening in Venezuela, and they don’t talk about it because the image doesn’t look good on Instagram. You should be a spokesperson for everything that’s happening, including feminism. Actually, some of us were kind of asleep, we didn’t know, and then you gradually realize that…
And what’s happening in fashion is that, for example, I follow a lot of young local girls that are freeing themselves from stereotypes. If I wanna show my body, I’ll show it, if I wanna dress in a certain way, I do it. This evolved into this kind of sisterhood where we’re all supporting each other. The other day I was saying that we should stop criticizing other girls based on what they wear, if they show their butt or not, etc. We’re supposed to be there for each other because we’re already getting screwed. Let’s stop confronting each other and support ourselves.