Monday, September 1, 2008

VH1 Driven

LET ME INTRODUCE MYSELF...My name is Alfred Lape & I am 26 years old. I have been making things since I was 17. My bestfriend Danny Prasad recalls I have been designing since he met me at the age of 13. It all started when I saw the video, "the light" by Common. I noticed the beanies he was wearing, but they weren't normal beanies, later I realized they were crocheted beanies. I would go around town trying to find that specific beanie, but I had no luck. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had my first mentor, my grandma who showed me how to crochet. To enhance my repertoire, I read books on crocheting.




































Common had so much style, but more than his style, he spoke about real things, influenced, & inspired people-including myself. It influenced my upbringing & the way that I grew up looking back retrospectively. With LAVSH, it's not just about making a great aesthetically looking product, but I wanted to inspire people, have a message with the brand, & be a platform to discover talent so they to can live their dreams. I'm an example that my dream is possible & is unfolding. Who would think a kid can start a clothing company at age 24, without a formal design education.

I was also inspired by the style of the b-boys & how they put their looks together. Growing up seeing Seattle's own Massive Monkeys crew, I recognized & admired them for their talent, how they got the ladies, & sense of style. They were the older cats & I looked up to them as I was a younger kid.

I just did things as a hobby & loved making things, but I never thought I could make a future out of it. After highschool I took the conservative route, I went to college to pursue a "real" career as people have told me. My family has always encouraged me to get into the medical profession. A cultural typical thing, common to the filipino culture. Ask any of your filipino friends what their parents do, I guarantee there is large percentage that are in the medical field, probably a nurse lol. Matter of fact, guess what my mom does? She's a nurse. My aunts a Pharamacist. Her husband is a Perfusionist. My brother does computer IT work, not in the medical field, but a "respected" profession. My bestfriends are nurses, work in a the medical laboratory, dentists, professors, etc. I felt like the the odd ball out, going against the grain & it was challenging because I had no one to relate to.

I went to college & tried to pursue nursing, biology, ultrasound. But I didn't enjoy it. I could remember studying for chemistry exams all night & I hated it, but when I would work on a piece all night long, the time went by fast & I loved it. From then on, I decided to major in something that I was interested in & graduate as fast as possible because I didn't want to dissapoint my mom & be the first generation in our family to graduate in America. Simultaneously, while I was in school I evolved from creating hats to creating garments for people, interned, & sold in local boutiques. Then in 2007, LAVSH was conceived.

The line is independent right now, meaning there are no investors yet. It's like I'm a music artist without a record label. Honestly, it's either have $100,000+ or give up on a dream. I decided to sew things myself, pray, & have faith that a way will be made out of no way. Luckily I was blessed to had family, friends, giving me money to buy fabric because they believed in me. My train of thought was I will prove to investors, people who tell me I'm crazy, be realistic, & the industry that I have a serious work ethic, heart, & determination. So, I flew to New York & LA myself to create the line on my website. I sewed 66 pieces myself in 4 months in my bedroom. For example, I created 8 jackets, 8 collared shirts, & 8 pants. They are art pieces to me, my body of work of ideas, a portfolio of my range at this point in time. To those that don't understand the craft, to finish one jacket, it generally takes two days, about 16 hours per day of labor(To all my friends who want free clothes, that's kind of the reason why I can't, it takes a long time & it costs money for materials). I felt like Kanye's spaceship song.

"Y'all don't know my struggle
Y'all can't match my hustle
You can't catch my hustle
You can't fathom my love dude
Lock yourself in a room doin' five beats a day for three summers
That's a different world like Cree Summers
I deserve to do these numbers
The kid that made that deserves that Maybach"

I would listen to a lot of inspirational music because I felt like quitting so many times. Touch the sky, Can't knock the hustle, Grinding, Hero, There is a Way, A Dream are the soundtracks of my life. Sometimes things feel impossible, like the amount of money going to a fashion school like FIDM, could be a downpayment to start a line. It's a challenge just to pay to learn the skills of creating apparel, let alone have the capital after to even start a line.

Every other image on the website that isn't being sold in the store are one-offs, meaning they are 1 of 1, since there isn't an investor & I couldn't produce another line. From those styles, I am concentrating on doing custom pieces for anyone interested. Now I understand what Kanye was talking about when he made "Through the Wire,"he came out of pocket & paid for the video himself. When I buy fabric at fabric stores, generally I will go back 2 weeks later & the fabric will be discontinued. That's where LAVSH is at right now, making one-offs whenever money comes in. It's pretty much a mixtape, where people can see my talent, until I get signed so I can drop an album, in my case, another season/line.

I just wanted to shout out & thank you to everyone who has guided me & been an influence on my life. God, for blessing me to do what I love & for making a way. Jacque Goldsmith, my mentor, who taught me everything I know as far as making clothes, I will pay you back for everything. My single parent mom who raised two men, that's why I work hard because of you so I can retire you one day. Danny Prasad, my bestfriend since we were 13, for encouraging me to never give up, instilling confidence & for helping build LAVSH. Jonas Bevacqua, for always encouraging me & telling me I got talent when I doubt myself. Kevion, for instilling us to Dream Big & for sharing his knowledge. To all the stylist who have styled the biggest artists in the world because their words of encouragement has been a louder voice in my mind to drown the voices that have told me to stop. To the artists that inspire me: Andre 3000, Kanye, Pharrell, Jay-Z, Q-tip, Will.I.AM, Diddy, Mos Def, & so many others. To my brother, bestfriends Karen, Andy, David, Albert, Joey, for feeding me & giving me money to keep this LAVSH dream going.

3 comments:

  1. wow... i gotta say i love your story! the struggle, your dream and your courage and dedication to make it happen.So inspirational. keep doing your thing this will happen for you> i can already tell by reading this that you are a wonderful guy with amazing talent yet humble and grounded at the same time> *nancy J

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  2. Keep doing your thing man, the skills are there, the passion is there and the drive is there...everything else will fall into place.

    Bless!
    -Spexxx

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  3. You are such an inspiration to other indie designers like myself. Please keep it going! Your designs are so sick; there's a definite future for you!

    I, too, went into healtcare. HATED IT. lol

    ~Mi

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