January 11, 2018


Whether he’s creating one-of-a-kind leather jackets or tailoring pieces of art, Javier Tellez has an eye for minutiae

By day, you’ll find Javier Tellez at Glass Optical, managing the office and choosing statement frames for the Bishop Arts shop. By night, you’ll likely catch him in his Oak Cliff home studio, creating clothing patterns using squares of paper and a ruler. Though the JVRTLLZ label hasn’t made its formal debut, you may have seen his work on Dallas Contemporary curator Justine Ludwig, model and stylist Al Tidwell, or Midnight Rambler co-creators Christy Pope and Chad Solomon—all of whom have recruited Tellez for his dark, deconstructed designs and custom leather jackets.

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Justine Ludwig and Al Tidwell wearing JVRTLLZ

He relies heavily on word of mouth and social media, namely Instagram, to promote his work. “I’m trying to do this for the long run,” he says. “I have a great job right now and it’s my bread and butter, but this is where I get to have fun. You can’t be a broke artist and enjoy your life!”

Tellez was born in Mexico, moved to Dallas at age 10, and earned a degree in pattern design from El Centro College. He cites everything from skateboarding videos to the mid-’90s internet boom as influences. A “dreamer” under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Tellez says he won’t let political unrest or nerves get in the way of his work—or disrupt his focus.

“You just have to keep trying,” he says. “Thanks to DACA, I was able to open my own business. I’m able to go back to school—I mean, designing is not all I want to do. It has opened many opportunities for me.” He’ll use the first JVRTLLZ collection, created from deadstock and repurposed (taxpayer-funded) military clothing, to make a subtle political statement.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a designer more versatile. His design work and connection with Ludwig landed him a gig as the Dallas Contemporary’s tailor-in-residence. His first project was a month-long installation for Laercio Redondo, which included designing patterns from scratch and converting measurements to fit the space. He recently helped install Pia Camil’s exhibition, “Bara, Bara, Bara,” refitting and stitching together panels of secondhand tees  from Mexico’s street markets. He’s currently working on a curtain that will divide the main part of the museum into sections.

These unconventional applications of his skill set have allowed Tellez to further his eye for detail and give his artistic sensibilities a tangible purpose. He’ll put those skills to further use in an upcoming venture with business partner Priscilla Barroso. Slated to open in Fair Park in early 2018, The Shop will serve as an all-in-one stop for manufacturing, marketing, branding, and merchandising for independent designers and artists who lack the resources necessary to execute their own visions. —Hilary Lau

The Details: Follow Tellez and his latest artistic exploits on Instagram @jvrtllz.