For Those Who Sin
An Interview with Owner/Designer Alex Miller
Based in Los Angeles, For Those Who Sin has developed a cult following for their confrontational designs that often reference themes of revolution, death, and the transience of life, calling us to make the most out of the time we're given. The clothes don't attempt to hide the designer's hand. Wisps of thread, hand painted designs, and carefully distressed details add up to give a sense of a life lived hard and well, not in the glitz and glamor of high society but in the grit and grime of the underground. We spoke to owner/designer Alex Miller to find out more about the up-and-coming brand:
When did you start For Those Who Sin?
I started the brand about two years ago, but it was a completely different concept. As of two months ago, I completely switched everything and reinvented the brand and that’s when I linked up with Luis and John from Lush Network.
The items in your collection share a darkness that is edgy yet playful. What are your inspirations for the designs that you create?
I would say the edginess and darkness almost comes from an alter ego of mine. Many people have this misconception about me that I worship the devil or something. I get all kinds of different stuff, but those who know me well know that I’m a fun and energetic person. But, it really comes from an alter ego of mine that comes from my love of poetry, films, plays, and such. It also comes from underground scenes that I’m into. I’m just not a hypebeast person. I know that’s really popular right now, but that’s not who I am. I really find my inspiration in the underground scene through all the grit and dirt.
When you’re brainstorming ideas for new items, what is your creative process?
The creative process is always really different. I guess having the inspiration come and go and keeping track of it all and making notes. A lot of the stuff I will think of when I’m in the shower or when I’m sleeping so I keep a notebook close by and I’m always writing ideas down. Later on I go and sort through and say okay I’m going to you use this, I don’t want to use that. As far as creative process, almost everything is illustrated, so I start with an illustration from anything, whether it’s something I want to do for a pop up store or a t-shirt design, everything always starts with an illustration because for me it’s about getting my ideas on paper and refining those into final products.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that embodies For Those Who Sin? If so, What?
I guess one that I use a lot would be, “skin withers, and bone turns brittle.” It comes from a song by a guy named Sturgill Simpson. It’s ironic because he’s actually a country music singer, but it’s someone that I listen to a lot and he’s one of the only country music singers that I listen to. He sings about very spiritual and in depth stuff that most country singers don’t touch on and that line is a quote I pulled as inspiration. Basically it talks about not being a cliché, and living life to the fullest. We only have this small period of time and we have to do things in life that are meaningful as individuals.
What does this quote – “skin withers, and bone turns brittle” – mean to you?
I was working a 9 to 5 job, sitting on my ass doing design work and I just knew it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. I quit the job and left that next day. I packed up all my stuff and went to Nashville where my sister was living, stayed there for 5 days, then got a flight to LA for a job interview where I ended up getting the job. I just decided, okay I’m going to live here now. I started meeting people and created this opportunity for me to grow into the role I was trying to do. I always reflect and look back and think I’m so glad I did that because this is what I should be doing and the path I should be following rather than going to school and getting an education, getting a job, getting a girlfriend, getting married… that just wouldn’t fulfill me. I don’t think it fulfills a lot of people, but a lot of people continue to do it and I think they’re miserable even though they may not show it. If that’s your thing and you’re happy, then great, but I don’t think a lot of people are happy.
Many of your leather and denim jackets include hand-painted designs. How much time and effort do you put into each one?
A lot of time and a lot of effort. Each piece is handpicked. I’ve been into vintage for years. I have connections out here for large vintage warehouses and special vintage places that I go pull things from. From there the details are put on, or taken off, they are either reconstructed or deconstructed. Then the paintings go on them… right now we are doing a lot of pieces where we’re taking vintage leathers and completely redoing all the hardware on them, so all the zippers and all the buttons and then updating them. It can take anywhere from a day to a month, it really just depending on which piece it is. I’m always working a bunch of different ones, and at certain times I pick them up, I put them down, there is really no time frame on them, when I feel like they’re done, I put it away.
What rules, culture, or structure exists in this workplace to create collaboration and a creative environment?
I would say culture wise that I think that everyone [at Lush Network] is busy. Everyone is doing something. Since I was young, I have always surrounded myself with people who are trying to better themselves and do better things and just do cool shit. I have lost a lot of friends over the years because I am not who I was when I was 16, and I have people who are doing the same shit that they were doing when we were 16 years old. I am always trying to find new people to surround myself with, that are doing cooler things than me, doing better things than me and are more successful than me, and I would say that’s the culture here. Everybody is kind of on that path too. We’re all creating shit and doing cool stuff as opposed to just doing normal shit every day.
Tell me about an item or project you have completed that has made you most proud of your brand?
I guess the start of it. Some of the first pieces I ever did I am still the most proud of just because of the excitement of the rebranding. I got really good reactions out of some of the stuff that I started doing. For some of the first pieces, I didn’t quite know where I was going with it, but then I was showing some things to people and got great reactions and it felt right and I was thinking, this is the right direction I want to go in and people are taking to this, let's see where we can take this. I would say that up to this point that is what I have been most happy about...that re-branding change.
What other plans do you have for your brand going forward?
There is a lot going on right now, we [Alex and Lush Network] just did a run of some new buyers. We were just in Paris, New York and then Vegas. We are in production for a lot of new pieces, it’s kind of a capsule right now that I am working on and then we will be sampling for a whole new collection for 2018. So just really growing. I do not want to be one of those brands that takes off and skyrockets and then just kind of fades off, basically like a flash in the pan. I am not really that person and I do not want to be that brand, I’d rather have a slow gradual increase and keep growing as opposed to just up and you never hear about it again. So that’s where it’s headed...taking it one day at the time, one piece at the time.
What is the biggest sin you have ever committed?
[laughs] that’s a deep question. I could not tell you… I don’t think that I have one and I’m going to leave it at that. I’m an angel and have not committed any sins…
Interview by Morgan Vickery