Student Profile: “The Multicultural Ambassadors of America” at Tailored Heritage

How Tailored Heritage came about sounds like the workings of fate. When three, first-generation born Americans came together at USF, they all shared a similar vision to impact the world at a local and global level through fashion. From this fateful meeting and a series of opportune events, Tailored Heritage was conceived.

USF students Umar Issa, Cesar Martinez and Milton Smith are the visionaries behind Tailored Heritage — a platform that aims to bridge cultures and societies through style.

Tailored Heritage is not only just a brand, platform, or project. It is an outlet for them to voice their own opinions, to share their perspectives, and to document what inspires them. Ultimately, Tailored Heritage is their journey and it is depicted in different forms of media via blog entries, video, photography, and music. They aim to bring cultural awareness through their media.

The creators of Tailored Heritage pose surrounded by city culture. (Photo courtesy of Tailored Heritage)
The creators of Tailored Heritage pose surrounded by city culture. (Photo courtesy of Tailored Heritage)

“Tailored Heritage has been a really long process for all of us in terms of formation. It has also been an organic process, meaning the pieces have fallen in place really well,” Umar said. “Tailored Heritage itself has been about creating the brand, and  2013 was the big year for molding what we’ve become.”

On their website at, which just launched in Nov. 2013, they state in their mission: “Each region of the world has a unique and beautiful way of dress. By documenting these fabrics, stories, and lifestyles, we hope to build a better understanding between peoples across the globe. In doing so, we will also learn more about our own multi-cultural roots and incorporate our discoveries through the clothing that we wear.”

Each of them have a favorite piece that embodies their own heritage and identity. For Umar, who is Syrian, French, and Indian, he wears traditional prayer-beads around his wrist to represent his Islamic background. Cesar is Latin American and wears a gold-plated elephant hair ring that belonged to his mother when she was 16, and was then handed down to him. And Milton, who is Latino and African-American, accessorizes with gold earrings because it is another means of his self-expression besides clothing.

“All our different backgrounds tie together as we bring our own skill points to Tailored Heritage,”Cesar said.

Cesar is a junior business administration major who works on the development of Tailored Heritage as a brand, by networking with other creative individuals that share the same values and beliefs.

Umar is a senior international studies major, minoring in Middle Eastern studies whose coursework at USF has focused on exploring various cultures, peoples, and societies.

Milton is a junior U.S. history major, researching narratives of the past, and how our history has translated into the modern world.

With their cultural backgrounds and different areas of study, they are able to collaborate and be “Multicultural Ambassadors of America,” as they aspire to be. While they contribute different skills and perspectives to Tailored Heritage, they all share an experience.

“One thing I can say about all of us, is that we’ve all been abroad and immersed in another culture one way or another,” Milton said, “That’s something we all have in common, and it’s what we take with us when we do Tailored Heritage.”

Umar studied abroad in Morocco, Cesar traveled to Spain, Majorca, and Egypt, and Milton studied in Italy for four months, as well as visited France and Spain. In their worldly travels, their experiences supplement their vision in being ambassadors and bridging cultures and societies.

“This ambassador idea works on so many levels. We’re ambassadors for America being that we’re all first-generation, born

Tailored Heritage creators flaunt their style on a park bench in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of Tailored Heritage).
Tailored Heritage creators flaunt their style on a park bench in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of Tailored Heritage).

Americans. It is our identities and our different cultures that we’re sharing with people from the outside world to see that there is more to America,” Umar said. “On another level, we’re ambassadors to America for our cultures. Where we’re from and where we travel to, we want to show the beauty of those places and show the authenticity of it through the clothing of those places.”

In addition to their website launch, Tailored Heritage has built its online presence through various forms of social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, Tumblr). More recent travels the Tailored Heritage team  embarked on was a week-long trip to New York City, where they gained inspiration and met with other creative individuals. They were also named the 2013 Pioneers of Style by the American shoe brand, PF Flyers, and were featured on PF Flyers was established in 1933, and was popularized as the American all-purpose shoe in the mid twentieth century.

Their plans for 2014 are to further develop their perspective and to allow room for collaborations with other creative minds and brands.

Their short term goal is to showcase the history and culture embedded within San Francisco. Their first short film, which was shown at CAB’s Campus MovieFest last semester, highlights a small, local business in SF called Parkside Market.

“The people [at Parkside Market] are Palestinian. They’re so genuinely nice and they make the best sandwiches,” Umar said.“I don’t think this could happen at a better place than in SF. It’s such a unique city and our immediate goals is to showcase San Francisco in a beautiful light. Luckily at USF, we have the tools to do that through technology and working our teachers and the students that we know. We’ve been blessed to have this opportunity at USF and in SF. Its really the start of Tailored Heritage.”

2 thoughts on “Student Profile: “The Multicultural Ambassadors of America” at Tailored Heritage

    1. Style is independent and def. I get a lot of compliments about my personal style literally every day, pf flyers, over cuffed jeans, newsboy caps vintage button ups and colorful socks just to name a few of the items that i continually rock on a day in and day out basis. Ive always been intrigued by vintage clothes and jewelry so i guess im a old soul!! I’ll be visiting your store real soon because i only live 50 miles north of you guys in Fairfield, Ca. Would love to maybe do a couple of photos for u guys in the very near future if possible, Thanks. Mario T Fields

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