ARTICLE WRITTEN BY: GRACE WIDYATMADJA for CTORRES.XYZ/COMMUNITY
For aspiring designers, the world of fashion is one that requires resilience in the face of hardship. With an overwhelming amount of support, 25-year-old visionary Alexander Lozano has crafted the Long Beach based streetwear brand Vanity Slaves Worldwide.
HAVING A CHAT: w/ brand owner, Alexander Lozano
C: Hi Alex! I'm excited to dive in and chat with you about your brand. Let's start from the beginning, what inspired you to start a clothing brand?
A: "I kinda noticed in the sixth grade that people with nicer clothes, like for example this clothing line called “Famous Stars and Straps” ...if you had that then you were better than everybody else. Everybody in school had that clothing line. They started a group and you could only be in that group if you had that clothing line. For a little while, I wanted to be a part and be like them so I went to Zumiez at the Lakewood Mall with my mom and basically asked my mom if she could buy me one of those shirts. But when we were going to get it, I realized it was $40 for the shirt. I told my mom I didn’t want to get it after all because I remembered we could get blank shirts and get 10 of those shirts for the price of this one. So I started wearing blank shirts and I thought it was alright. I didn’t really care but at the same time I wanted to be unique so I started customizing my own shirts. I would draw on them or when I bought the shirts, the store could customize whatever I wanted on the shirt. I was from Bellflower so I would always ask them to put Bellflower on the shirts. Then I just started wearing shirts that said Bellflower on them. I started customizing shoes just at my house by drawing on them, spray painting them. I would customize hats, I would customize anything. I started doing it for so long and I would always have hats that were customized and stuff and then I told my friend two years ago that I wanted to make this and this but I was never really about it. I would just talk about it. When I moved to Long Beach, my friend pushed me to try to release a few things and I thought if I’m going to do that, I might as well pay a photographer to make it official. I paid a photographer. I got a lot of support and after that, I haven’t stopped. It’s been a lot of love and support. Ever since I started, I kept going and I haven’t given up yet.
C: I love to hear that. I'm glad you're getting the community recognition you deserve. I've definitely heard of that brand and all the other over-priced brands at Zumiez, haha. So tell me about your brand name: Vanity Slaves Worldwide, what’s the meaning behind it?
A: I used to play this skateboarding game called “Skate” and you can create your own character, team, and your own logo. They had this logo on there, it was a V and S and basically I thought “Oh I like this a lot”. I made a team on there and called it “very successful” but spelled it wrong on purpose to make fun of it. Anyways, basically I liked the “VS” a lot so I started putting “VS” on everything but I didn’t know what I was gonna call it. One day I just sat and opened the dictionary to look at words that started with V and words that started with S. I thought about it for days and I came up with Vanity Slaves. It’s like a joke about people who spend all their money on important stuff they think they need to look a certain way... People really want big brand stuff because they’re a big brand but it’s like, you’re paying for the same fabric that I pay for but you’re spending $70 or $80 for a shirt just because it has a big name. What I’m saying is why would you spend so much when you could help out a small business? Like people think that having brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton will make them look cool and make more people like them, but I’ve never cared about that. I’ve never bought one designer thing in my life. I’ve never wanted to because I’ll always have that mentality of “why would I buy that when I could get cheaper things?”
C: Understandable, I don't really get the appeal of brand names either. Paying so high for clothes that are so basic, I don't like that. How would you describe Vanity Slaves Worldwide clothes for those who've never seen it?
A: I’d say streetwear... Little by little, I started to cut out the middle man so now I print all of my own shirts, I make all of the designs myself, I take all of the pictures myself. Over the last year of having this brand, I’ve been learning but as of right now I’d say my clothes are streetwear. I plan on doing more though.
C: Nice, well I'm excited for what's to come. Now I'm curious, how do you come up with your designs? What's the process of bringing your ideas to life?
A: Sometimes I’ll create the design first and then I’ll make the shirts and then I’ll make different colorways. Then I’ll see if people like them and then decide to release them. I work with vinyl and basically vinyl is like the plastic I put on the shirt. Usually when I go get the vinyl, I’ll spend like $300-$400 to get the colors I need and I make sure to get extra colors so that I can experiment. I usually just sit in my room and look at all the colors I have and try to think of something cool. I’ll make a sample shirt and if it comes out good then I’ll post it and if people like it then I make them. Either I’ll have the idea or I don’t have the idea and I think and try to make something up with the colors that I have.
C: That's a dope creative process. It sounds like you just let your mind do it's thing with the colors and then you end up creating something fire, love that. What do you see for the future of the brand? What are your hopes for this company?
A: Well, I’ve only been doing this for a year and a half but ever since I started I’ve had a lot of support. I feel like before this I could never really focus on one thing. I would start things and I would always give up but I really enjoy this. This is what I’ve been wanting to do so like, I don’t see myself ever giving up because I love it and the amount of support I’m getting right now makes me not want to give up. Especially during Covid-19, I’ve been investing in myself a lot and I bought myself a machine and I bought myself a lot of materials. I had a normal job. I worked at a car dealership and basically when Covid-19 happened, for that first month I had no idea what was going to happen. So I started working more on my brand and I saw myself snap and I thought “Okay, I’m going to take this seriously.” Every single day, I was just working, working, working but by the time they called me to go back to my job, I didn’t want to go back because I was releasing so much stuff and I had so much support. I quit my job basically and now I do this full time. Everyday, I drop a lot of content because this is my job now. I need this to work out for me because I don’t have any backup plan. This is what I want. Eventually, I’d like to have a couple stores and maybe even be in a couple stores. I know it kinda contradicts what I said when I didn’t want my mom to buy an expensive shirt but I’m not gonna raise it from the price I have right now. Even if I get a million followers, I’m gonna stay at this same price that I have right now which is kinda low because I want people to be able to purchase it. Right now if you go to Zumiez, the shirts are like $50 or $60. I think my prices, like $35, are more acceptable. I want to keep collabing and have a bigger team so Vanity Slaves can be more than just clothes. I have a lot of artists that I think are really good that aren’t really up there yet but I would like to have a photographer and someone who shoots video for me so I can have those artists to shoot clothes that I make and hopefully this will help promote them. It’ll allow them to be a part of a label that I own. They’ll be a part of Vanity Slaves.
C: Damn man, those are some major goals. I need to take some notes, haha. The idea of branching into the music industry is genius and I hope you make it happen! So far, how has this journey been for you and what has this meant for you?
Honestly it means everything to me. Since I started this clothing line I’ve changed my whole mindset and my whole life. Before this I felt lost. I didn’t really know what to do with my life but now every morning I wake up happy. I know exactly where I’m going and I know exactly what I have to do. I’m so positive and motivated. I know that this is going to work out for me because I’m investing all my time, I’ve invested a lot of money. I’m a great person and I believe I’m just getting what I deserve. If you ask me what this means to me, it means the world to me. Every single day, you’re gonna see me working on this because I love it. I’ve been wanting to do an interview so that people will know more about the backstory of the person that makes it.
C: Well I'm so glad we were able to have this chat and I hope your supporters now have more insight on the man behind the tees. :) I can't wait to see what you create in the future, Alex. We'll chat with you soon!