21-year old Alexander Liapis didn’t see his designs come to life until college, and didn’t launch his label BLEACH until early this year—but in its short lifespan, BLEACH custom denim has garnered a cult following with references to everything from Greek mythology to Travis Scott. Below, the Arizona-based designer speaks to his Southern upbringing and coming of age within the fashion industry.
Where are you from, and where are you now?
I’m originally from Birmingham, Alabama, and I’m currently in Phoenix, Arizona.
What is your first memory with streetwear? Were you introduced to streetwear and fashion through a specific person/place/event?
Growing up in the South, Lil Wayne and The Hot Boys influenced a lot of my style. I like to take new technologies and incorporate them into the older look of the ‘90s and early 2000s, a time period that I draw a lot of influence and personal memories from.
If you had to compress your personal style into one outfit, what would it be?
Any unreleased BLEACH tee, soon-to-be-released two-tone BLEACH denim (probably the pink wash), and a pair of my many customized Air Force 1’s.
When did you first feel inspired to create your own designs? When did you first start selling them?
When I got to college in LA, I was exposed to Illustrator and Photoshop for the first time. Most nights I stayed in the library until five in the morning, using their computers, and even gave up playing football for the school because I was so into design. A few months later I began selling album covers, T-shirts, and hoodies, until I ended up falling in love with denim.
Describe your design aesthetic in one sentence, if you can.
Anything that pushes the preconceived “limitations” that I was told when I started learning clothing design.
Where do you feel the most inspired?
My inspiration comes from everywhere. It can come from a song lyric, a movie scene, going for a run, even while running errands. For example, the piece I’m currently developing hit me while I was in the shower, and I began sketching it with the steam on the glass.
Which living designer do you most admire?
This question is hard, my answer changes as I learn more about high fashion and incorporate bits and pieces of other established design houses in my work. Currently, I really admire Vivienne Westwood’s work. Her style really ushered in the punk rock scene, which really influences our current streetwear climate.
What’s your biggest creative or career milestone so far?
Becoming self-sufficient was a big moment for me. Also, every DM I get from happy customers makes my day and keeps me going strong!
How do you want people to feel when wearing your designs?
I want people to feel a heightened sense of confidence. I want them to feel motivated to make positive change in their lives, just like how making the clothing motivates me.
What would you most like to change about the current fashion industry?
There isn’t much I would change. It’s a flawed industry, but it almost feels like a right of passage. For example, I didn’t like how quick people are to take advantage of you and get free things. It hurt at first to see artists you look up to ask for free pairs for promo, and then never get a tag on Instagram. But that comes with the territory, and if you can grow from that and continue to pursue your goal you can make it in the industry. I would also change the practices of the industry to be more environmentally friendly, although more measures are already being taken in this regard. Lastly, I’d get rid of sweatshops that are paying seamstresses a nickel per seam, that is an unjust business practice that BLEACH will never be involved in.