In the summer of 2018, former University of Mary Hardin-Baylor linebacker De’Oryen Thornton and longtime sneakerhead Brady Gilstrap joined forces to introduce Waco to the high-end vintage and streetwear scenes. But it was not without tenacity and a major defeat that made the young entrepreneurs’ dreams a reality.
In the middle of his football career at UMHB, Thornton endured a career-ending injury.
“I tore my hip labrum, and I needed something else to do besides football,” Thornton said. “After 2016, I came home after surgery and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I started customizing shoes… I also distressed and tapered jeans.”
As a result of this, Thornton became popular throughout Waco for his sense of style. He attracted the attention of a few Baylor greats such as former basketball players Royce O’Neale and Taurean Prince, as well as former wide receiver KD Cannon.
“I was buying for them, when I met Brady,” Thornton said. “He had a lot of rare Supreme among other brands. When I decided to open the store, I asked him if he wanted to collaborate.”
Gilstrap’s love for street fashion developed when he was in high school.
“I was buying rare Adidas shoes that most people couldn’t get their hands on, and I was flipping them within my school,” Gilstrap said.
After high school, Gilstrap’s collection expanded to items from streetwear giants such as Supreme, Bathing Ape, Off-White and limited collections from Adidas and Nike. His collection grew rapidly, attracting the attention of Thornton and his high-profile clientele.
“I started selling stuff to De’Oryen, and he had a lot of really cool clients,” Gilstrap said. “He was helping me move my stuff faster, and all of a sudden he asked me if I wanted to start a store with him.”
He agreed, and so sparked the dream of becoming the pioneers of street fashion in Waco.
On Aug. 12, with a line wrapping around the building, ‘Culture Threads’ opened at 4604 Memorial Dr. The store was an instant success. But, this success was short-lived. Three weeks after opening, a burglary became a major obstacle in their journey of bringing the streetwear market to Waco.
“When I showed up to the store and everything was gone, I realized around $15,000 of my own stuff and a year and a half of my work was gone as well,” Gilstrap said. “A lot of these items don’t depreciate in value; they actually increase.”
In the world of high-end vintage, rarity and time are major price-determining factors. For instance, a pair of $100 sneakers has the potential to quadruple in price within the next year and sometimes the next month, especially if they are an envied limited release. Culture Threads had $20,000 worth of inventory stolen, with the majority of those items increasing in value daily.
Despite this devastation, positivity and resilience radiated between the two store owners.
“At that point it was defeating, but I just wasn’t going to stop,” Gilstrap said. “As soon as it happened, I knew that De’Oryen and I were going to get another store opened.”
The tenacity that continued to propel their vision was the result of their love for style and many years of hard work.
Little did the two know, not only would a successful investigation lead to the stolen merchandise being returned to them, but also their new store would be reopened within five months, and it would be worth over four times more than their original store.
“With our insurance, we got the money back and our security company also gave us some money,” Thornton said. “We waited five months and reached out to our supplier, Max Loughborough. We decided to go into business with him.”
Loughborough had connected both Thornton and Gilstrap with many of the rare items in their original store, Culture Threads. As a result of their friendship, Loughborough agreed to become the third owner in their new store.
Jan. 12 became a widely anticipated day by the streetwear lovers of Waco and the surrounding cities alike. After a plethora of struggles and unrelenting hustle, the three store owners opened their new store on the corner of 17th Street and Austin Ave., renamed Way Limited.
“I see Way Limited establishing itself as its own brand,” Gilstrap said. “If we can build the streetwear scene up in Waco, I see us being the pioneers and leaders of fashion here. We also want to create an atmosphere where people can not only get high-end streetwear or rare vintage, but also where they can hang out and socialize with people who share the same style and love for streetwear.”
You can follow Way Limited on Instagram @WayLimited, on Twitter @CultureThreadss or visit the store at 1621 Austin Ave.