The first of anything feels monumental. Acknowledgement, if not outright documentation, is warranted no matter the insignificance or grandeur of the task, experience, or event about to unfold. It's the first. The first will never, can never, happen again. Without placing more undue significance on this being ALITY Design's first appearance in the living room, let us describe the furniture.
Yes, this is the living room and you are invited into our house. Early on in the creation process of ALITY Designs — the creation of the brand, not the clothes, two different stories which we'll arrive to in due time — we stood firm in the idea of acceptance. We jokingly, not jokingly at all, said everyone is invited into our home except assholes and racists.
Then we sat with this half joke for a while. Do we open our doors so widely to let the assholes and racists into our home? Maybe we can teach them something? Maybe they'll see that inside here life is beautiful and decide to take a seat on our ethically sourced rug, woven of natural jute fibers thinking, dang, maybe I will sip some oolong tea and embrace new ideas.
Then we said, nah. Good rule. Boundaries. Everyone is invited into our home, our living room, except assholes and racists. We are here to elevate the unique, to uplift the other, and to normalize adherence to the conflicting mantras of not giving a fuck and deeply caring for others.
We align with boldness that doesn't get spooked by its crassness, while still holding space for empathy and the idea that there are billions of ways to live and experience life.
Back to the furniture.
The living room has three pillars. Three columns of exposed steel that hold up our space; low-key luxury, slow fashion, gender free. As we tell stories, share our brand values, and create a voice through taps, conversations, and keystrokes, we aim to grow around these three pillars.
We will go off topic. Trust. Yet to be indoctrinated into the formality of brandhood, we have room to get weird. To seek unabated exploration, free from self judgment or stringent oversight from a manager wielding a brand book. As long as the adventure down the rabbit hole serves in our pursuit of life, we'll pen our open book.
The living room is spacious and cozy, vibrant and laid back. The living room is clean and can get dirty fast. Like a stereogram image from your youth, you see new things when your eyes go blurry and come back to the clear. Go there, come back. Go there, stay there, live there.
Along the back edge of the living room is a wardrobe, naturally. Heavy dark oak with carvings of cherubs doing ungodly things. Feisty winged babies making you question your morals. Inside is our debut collection LAYERS. Hoodies, joggers, t-shirts, one badass vest, and a freshly cut jacket with an unusually long back-story hang inside the armoire, waiting to be touched, to be lived in.
Metaphorical and digital as this living room may feel, whenever I envision it as a physical space — note the switch from the "we" of ALITY to the "I" of the writer, more on that later — it is a circular sunken living room, enclosed by those three steel beams, and is the focal point of a house perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Wander, chit chat, tune into the ocean's excited mix tape of barking seals, pounding waves, and swaying kelp beds, then settle down deep. Sink in, feel something, grab a velvet cushion and figure out why you're here.
We're here to create space for the in between, a platform on which the Other can stand, and a movement that embodies acceptance, uniqueness, and self-expression. May this living room serve as a gathering place of half-baked ideas, a striking match for yet-to-be explored interests, and the staging ground for big thoughts.
What is low-key luxury?
Low-key luxury is a soft dichotomy of how richness is defined. Richness that is felt before being seen. Inhaled before being heard. Experienced wholly through multiple avenues. Low-key luxury is the energy emitted by the subtly fierce and equally by the outspoken challenger. Low-key luxury refrains from shouting yet is not quiet; can spit verse and sit back in silent observation as the world spins.
Champagne at the beach, a humble decline of consumerism for consumerism's sake, a spoonful of dulce de leche at noon, low-key luxury shows itself in many forms.
ALITY Designs is low-key luxury made to fit all of who you are. We fit into this story in a very tangible way. We make luxury clothing that exudes confidence and propels one forward in the direction they desire. We make the clothes, you make yourself.
Low-key paired with luxury is a staple of who we are. Doing without trying. Magnets in your pocket, pulling others into your realm. A subtle power and confidence that feels right, attracts right, and sharpens the edges of what it means to hold grace.
ALITY invests in the essential cores of what it means to be luxury; high-end fabric, custom adornments, and small batch production. We do not stand on the shoulders of a luxury label or hollow brand identity. We earn the badge of luxury by walking down Quality Lane.
What is slow fashion?
Slow fashion is an approach to the creation, distribution, and consumption of clothing that considers all aspects of the production cycle, product inputs, and everlasting attributes of garments. Slow fashion is not one thing, it's many things and includes participants on both the supply and demand side of the threads.
Slow fashion has depth. On the surface, which is no less significant than its core, slow fashion is about producing clothes sustainably, using ethically sourced materials, and paying fair wages for labor. This layer of slow fashion has layers unto itself. A durable jacket made by hand entirely of upcycled materials is one piece to the slow fashion puzzle. Trend agnostic joggers made from natural cotton fibers is another. Scrap fabric transformed beyond Joseph's wildest techno color dreams or clothes passed down from one generation to the next, are yet further layers of this hand-picked purple onion.
The core of slow fashion is curbing consumption. Finding the sweet spot of self expression and restraining from buying or producing with catwalk seasons, whims, or momentary trends. Chronologically, slow fashion far predates fast fashion. But it took the blatant wastefulness of fast fashion to define slow fashion and bring about a renewed desire to wear clothes with a story, dare we say a soul.
Perfection is not a prerequisite to slow fashion. Intention and consideration are. Do better is the mantra. Turns out, doing better is fun, feels good, and is readily available to people who buy clothes and companies who make clothes. One decision at a time.
We participate in slow fashion in the way we source materials (striving for 100% USA made), contents of material (sustainable fabrics and GOTS certified dye), repurpose scrap fabric (team hoodies, drawstrings, multiple collection), and support small businesses and small batch production (non-industrial, L.A. made, local artisans).
These official credentials go to the core as well. ALITY Designs creates clothes with integrity, longevity, and a life beyond the stitch. Our clothes are made to last, in a figurative and physical sense. Our designs are timeless, essential, and made with deep attention to detail and everlasting quality.
Why gender free and not gender-neutral?
Gender free is the core of our origin story. The genderization of clothing has been a lifelong pain point for our founder and namesake, Ality Richardson. Drawn to the boy's or men's section for comfortable cuts, high-quality fabrics, bold prints, and depth of color, yet pushed to the girl's or women's section because of her identity as female. That feeling of not fitting in and not wanting to fit in gave Ality the inertia to create the in between.
Save a select few pieces of clothing designed anatomically for physical attributes of human bodies, to perceive clothing as gendered is laughable. Ask the opinion of a skirt, jacket or trousers. They'll tell you. The skirt cares not what is between your legs, nor does it pay tribute to softness or stubble. A jacket will fit broad or slender shoulders whether those shoulders belong to them, her or him. Pink and Blue get the biggest kick out of all the huffing and puffing. So do babies.
This is not to say we ignore the human body. Contrary, we study the human body and make clothes to complement it. The waist on our joggers is of such high quality and structure, most people fit into most sizes. They simply scale up or down depending on personal desire for oversized or a closer fit. Our hoodies and t-shirts fit the wingspan of a condor in flight and a hummingbird in pursuit of nectar. Just as nakedness is not always about sexuality, our bodies are not always about gender.
In creating the messaging for ALITY Designs we lingered on the topic of clothing made for everyBODY. Many of the words in this vocabulary space felt limiting, bland, or somehow less. Powerful as they can be, words like androgynous, unisex, gender-neutral, genderless, gender-inclusive, ungendered, non-gendered or fluid didn't sit well with us.
Free was the only paired word next to gender that captured our spirit effortlessly.
To stand for everything is to stand for nothing. Cliche and true. Simple and strong. We stand for gender free. Full stop. Not just gender free clothes, but gender free at large. Freedom to do as you please with gender identity, gender pride, and gender labels.
Gender free gives one limitless freedom to be as proud or dismissive of gender as they feel on any given day. You are free, not less, not neutral, not non, or un. You are free to be all of it, none of it, some of it, or, not acknowledge the topic at all.
Consider this your open, standing invite to the living room. Your spot on the couch, armchair, or steps has been reserved. You always have a place here.