So I’m hoping you’ve read part one of this interview and have learned all about Alyasha’s Teenage years. You’ve taken a break, eaten, scrolled through your instagram feed, maybe had a little sleep and are ready to consume more words. Ok then! Part two, lets go:

Given Aly’s obsessive and diverse range of denim and casualwear influences from the 70’s until now, it’s no surprise that his newest venture, Thee Teen-Aged, is a culmination his back catalogue of denim, music and style. Founded in early 2017, Thee Teen-Aged is an apparel brand with a very strong attitude. Its Rock n Roll meets dapper, restrained yet subversive…. and a little tricky to pin down reference-wise. I asked Aly to shed some light:

A mentor said something to me a long time ago when I was working for another brand: “not everybody’s going to get the messaging but as long as they get the aesthetic it doesn’t matter” And if you over-explain yourself then the wrong people are going to gravitate towards it.  

This is gonna sound shitty to say, but here’s my theory:

Bottle service is for the corn balls. The real VIP? They walk up and the guy holding the clipboard gives them a nod and they’re either in the kitchen with the owner or in the DJ booth. I want Thee Teenaged to be that brand. And I don’t mean that in the elitist sense… it’s a part of a culture. There’s an exclusive end to it, sure, but that’s the way Stussy started, that’s the way Supreme started, it was open to the public but if you don’t get it, well… see ya later.

Alyasha at home : photo by Kate Berry

And do you think this ‘exclusive’ side to the brand will intimidate people?

Someone said that to me recently about Teenaged. They said: “I was intimidated cos of this whole greaser thing!” and I was like “what, do you not know how to wear fucking clothes?!  “You’re being a pussy!”

 I’m not afraid to go to the fucking Ren fair but I’m not wearing a tunic or a helmet or armor. I like that shit, I wanna see those motherfuckers joust! But I don’t need to go in costume. I know that’s an obscure analogy… but it’s the same with skateboarding. You mention skateboarding and suddenly people are like ‘oh you’re a skate brand’ And we’re really not. 

I think most people see clothes like a uniform.

Well in that case people shouldn’t wear jeans cos jeans are for farmers.

Ha! I personally feel very uncomfortable in Vans cos I’m not a skater and I don’t have a Slayer tee shirt cos that shit’s too heavy for me. I hate girls who wear Slayer T shirts who are not into Slayer [Aly shakes my hand enthusiastically at this point] I love what you’re doing and I understand it, yet I’m not your customer. But I think there’s plenty of people out there who are your customer or who would want to be your customer.

And I will be there for them! That’s the beauty of the apparel industry.

This is where we hit on a very relevant point. I’m not a skater, I’m not a greaser, I’m not any of the boxes that Thee Teenaged could be forced into but do I get it? Hell yes. Do I understand each and every reference, hell no. Does it matter? Nah, not at all.

The secret of building a great brand is creating a world that people want to be a part of. Like Aly experienced when he first moved to New York; he was thrust into the city as a hippie outsider and was drawn to the intoxicating, evolving trends that both inspired him and allowed him to become a part of something.

Thee Teenaged pleat-front jacket : photo by Kate Berry

Clothing trends are a bi-product of human nature: to fit in, to feel a part of a crew or community, to show your stripes, express your tastes, play a character or to be accepted. Aly had seemed to me from the outside to be the sort of person who was anti-trend and yet here he was telling me his style-story, painting the complete opposite picture (if you haven’t read part one, get back and read it you idiot)

As you probably know, I work in trend forecasting and sometimes that upsets the heritage lads, purists and artisans who believe fashion fads are only for the high street or the juniors market which they scorn.

But ironically, heritage itself has become a trend. A trend that started with a dude named Roy and is in the middle of dying a horrible death with 5 thousand Roys all trying to be just like Roy, most of whom don’t even know who the original Roy is. Roy must be so pissed about it.

Teen-Aged denim : photo by Kate Berry

The age-old question when you work in trend is always ‘What’s next?’  and in the case of heritage it’s something I’ve been discussing a lot lately. So I figured Aly would be a great person to ask. I was right.

I have a lot to say on this subject! So all these elements in heritage that were made to make a man a man have had the opposite effect. This might sound very sexist but I was raised by a staunch feminist so there you go:

If you spend more time manicuring your beard than your woman does getting ready for work, are you the guy that we’re talking about? It’s not a macho thing and it sounds really shitty but dude! You’re spending time looking rugged. So you’re primping, which is the antithesis of the look you’re portraying. Then, all of our contemporaries are using the same fucking guy, making the same fucking product selling to the same fucking dude. The same teetotaler, coffee, craft beer, beard oil, throat tattoo horse shit!

He’s on the crest of some fucking waterfall, or in the Grand Canyon with his Redwings and his waxed cotton mac and his enameled cup and all of the same shit, with the crossed arrow artwork. But he’s a suburban chump, he moved from the suburbs of Los Angeles to Portland to live the part. It’s annoying. And it’s a bummer cos there are guys that actually are those dudes, so I feel bad for them.

It’s one big blob now. Even in the presentation. Many brands are just making one single brand.

Alyasha talks me through his denim : photo by Kate Berry

But don’t you think that might happen with Thee Teenaged?

No! It Won’t!

Why not?

I’m not saying we make better product by any means. We’re very proud of our product but quite frankly and transparently our product isn’t very different. But our brand absolutely is and that’s the important thing. Cos when your brand looks the same then you’re fucked. All those other brands have joined the party to become part of the ‘one brand’.

OK, but just being devil’s advocate here, with all these trends there’s always well-intentioned, really cool guys who start something and everyone copies. So I’m just saying…

Maybe it’ll happen… it might get the jump on us, maybe not, you never know. That’s always the roll of the dice. When April 77 launched I was like ‘fuck this is sick! Rock n roll, denim, the guitar pick in the coin pocket’ the hangtag is a little vinyl. I was like ‘I’m in!’ The brand is so much more than product. Its attitude! Your favorite bands have attitude, your favorite films have attitude! That’s why there’s only one Doctor Who to me, the only doctor is Tom Baker because he had attitude. Out of 19 doctors there’s only one. 

So build attitude! That’s why we as humans gravitate towards things that either have an aesthetic or an attitude. But once that whole bubble is one giant blob, then you’re sifting through so much of the same thing. ‘oh these guys did a BLUE enamel cup… SICK!’ hahaha

So. Are we gonna make some things that are similar? Sure. But it will be presented with attitude and that’s me being transparent and honest and maybe shitty but hey.

Alyasha’s home : photo by Kate Berry

I don’t think thats shitty at all. So if heritage was all about the lifestyle more than the attitude…

This is my own cynical opinion but when people advertise themselves as lifestyle brands I think ‘well what’s the lifestyle?’ What IS the lifestyle, dude? Is it like a gym-fitness lifestyle? What are you talking about? Seriously, what?!

The whole LA boutique thing is funny cos they are selling a ‘life style’ and yet it’s all just pottery and smudge sticks n stuff, really.

And what is that, the Beatrix Potter lifestyle?! What is that?! (Laughs) what are we talking about?

It’s Instagram isn’t it.

Its emulating imagery opposed to doing.

I think the strongest brands out there that cut through the crap are the ones who don’t over-think.

Yeah, I had someone say the other day ‘the styling for your photos is great’ and I was like ‘there’s no fucking styling. And largely in a lot of the photos its simply jeans, tee shirts, flannels, and jackets. But everybody in the photos put it together themselves.  The styling is the photography.

Aly’s team is tight-knit but perfectly formed. He’s sharing the legendary Z-Boy skater George Wilson’s space, he’s got Tony on press and marketing and the talented Connor Wyse on all that gorgeous imagery you see in their Instagram feed. They are a unit and although I was mostly chatting with Aly, the whole team were sitting with us, interjecting, adding their opinions, talking skate and subculture and generally shooting the shit. It’s a gang, it’s a micro-subculture. And I guess that’s why I have this suspicion that they could inspire the next style movement, because its authentic and pure and intoxicating just like Aly’s denim tales of yore.

Every music reference, subculture shift and fashion nuance of Alyasha’s youth has been soaked up, obsessed over and learned from. Let’s see if Thee Teenaged becomes its own movement. I bet there’s someone out there who’s gonna collect the shit out of those Teenaged back pocket flashers 😉

That back pocket flasher tho
Alyasha at home : photo by Kate Berry
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Trend forecaster, denim designer, industry journalist and author of Denim Dudes.