DISTINCT Curator Lauri Firstenberg speaks with Alvin Alexander the creator of Coolidge.
Alvin Alexander was born and raised in Compton. He presently lives and works in Los Angeles. Creativity was a critical part of Alexander’s upbringing. His father was a city planner who loved photography, fashion and textiles. At the age of 16, Alvin started taking photographs and concurrently would shop for vintage clothing at Good Will and the Salvation Army and repurpose vintage athletic jerseys. Having worked for Habitat for Humanity, Alexander’s interest rests in rebuilding his community.
Coolidge will produce collaborations with established contemporary artists and donate proceeds to a charitable cultural organization that is dedicated to the transformative potential of creativity and community.
Can you tell me how Coolidge was conceived?
The name references Calvin Coolidge who was the president during the Harlem Renaissance.
Coolidge is inspired by a group of artists, poets and musicians including Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday, who came together during the Harlem Renaissance to collaborate on innovative ideas and designs. They represented a secret society of individuals from different creative fields and this has inspired the model for Coolidge.
Coolidge is a collage of ideas and a collective of creative individuals working towards a common goal.
The emblem for Coolidge is the tiger. Would you share the significance of this symbol for you?
The logo of Coolidge is the symbol of a tiger on our patch. In Chinese culture ”the tiger is full of life and embodies the spirit and drive to achieve and make progress."
What other forms of creativity inspires you?
Creative writing, photography, interior design and sewing.
What are you reading and listening to right now?
Reading Jonah Berger's Contagious.
Listening to Nipsey Hustle, Frank Ocean, Stevie Wonder.
Your project includes collaborations with contemporary artists. How do you approach incorporating artist ideas and imagery into your vision?
No individual is more important than the project and the product. I want to create an environment for a selfless display of creativity for the artist and I. I want the artist to be inspired by the Coolidge vision and it's far reaching community. Using natural talents which were generated from their community, artists are encouraged to express their truth.
Who do you envision as your user/customer/audience?
The consumer is not looking for mass market but rather to be an individual. They are looking to elevate classic American streetwear. Generation x and millenials who buy online and buy from thrift and consignment stores who buy their clothing unconventionally.
How do you think Coolidge adds to the conversation between the intersection of art and fashion?
Locating underground artists and linking fashion and design to create underground products.
People are currently spending money on products they don't give back to the community but Coolidge is dedicated to giving back so a percentage of the proceeds will go back to the community towards creating social change.