SUSTAINABLE FASHION ADVOCATE, FOUNDER OF BIRD TROUBLE
Written + Photographed By Kelley Mullarkey | Video Produced By Sean Stillmaker
One of the most magical aspects of fashion is the ability to transgress though different eras by channeling the particular style of the time. There’s a certain emotional state in all of us that’s dependent on the experience we feel when we put on a garment that truly mirrors the imagery we’re so desperately trying to relate and connect to.
We can’t be 60s flower children by default. We were born in between generational shifts and the end of the Cold War. We only know the feeling of the summer of 69’ through Patti Smith, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, faded Polaroids, hand-me-down shift dresses and the fragmented tales of past Woodstock goers.
In her lace homemade Swinging Sixties mod inspired dress, gemstone fingers and secondhand leather cowboy boots, Alexz, the designer of Bird Trouble, a sustainable and repurposed bag line, is a mixture of Carnaby Street meets Summer of Love flower child meets Mexico City.
An inquisitive charismatic soul hungry for inspiration and authenticity, Alexz uses her sartorial freedom of expression to explore the decades of the past, better understand the culture of today and channel the magnetic allure of the 60s that keeps so many of us constantly on our toes.
“I feel like I’m trapped in an era I don’t belong in,” says Alexz sitting crossed-legging on her bed, covered in tattoos, surrounded by an array of beat-up vinyl records, Bob Dylan books and colorfully painted skulls.
Her bedroom, an airy bright space that serves as both her home nest and work studio reminds me of a sort of archaeological mobile suitcase that has been sprinkled with magic dust and brought to life. Little trinkets of animal bones, Native American artifacts and seashells in glass bottles filled with sand line her dresser tops. A dreamy sanctuary from the outside world, this peaceful place houses pieces that tell an equally fascinating story that only solidifies how insanely interesting Alexz is.
“A lot of the furniture came from a gypsy that used to live in the apartment above me. One day she just picked up and left town, leaving behind a bunch of her things, which eventually found a new home with me,” explains Alexz.
Born with a wanderlust mindset and a strong sense of a bigger worldly picture, Alexz has always craved the nomadic adventurous life on the road, which shows through her vibrantly alive personal style.
Raised on frequent doses of summer road trips with her father, a motorcycle riding nonconformist, Alexz knew that she wasn’t meant to stay in one place for too long.
“I’ve always sort of been restless. Moving and getting to see things is what’s important in life. It’s how you grow. It’s essential to living.”
Far from the early days when she told her best friend in the second grade that she wanted to be an artist, Alexz has evolved into a full-fledged creative life force, using every ounce of herself as a canvas and an extension of her self-expression and desire to be part of something larger.
Stemming from her punk rock adolescent phase is her dire love of music, which she attributes to being the greatest inspiration in her life and the foundation of her sartorial identity. Having spent her high school days in the suburbs of Chicago hating every class besides art and fashion design and getting tattooed in the basement of her friend’s house, Alexz made t-shirts which she sold on live journal to snag extra cash to attend punk rock shows in the city.
With just a few bags under her arms Alexz moved to Chicago by herself at 18 and continued to uproot with her journeys taking her to Philadelphia and the California bay area where she started her sustainable bag line, Bird Trouble, which she named after a punk skinhead band from the UK.
The label combines her love for music, thrifting and repurposing. Sourcing previously loved materials from estate sales, vintage stores and garage sales, Alexz creates beautifully handcrafted bags and wallets inspired by buildings found in Mexico, her close-knit group of like minded friends and musical influences of the 60s.
“I’m a modern day hippie. I listen to too much Bob Dylan and Hank Williams and enjoy being in calm places. I seek to find the peace in everything. I like to believe I integrate that into my lifestyle and designs.”
Devoted to bringing awareness to the wasteful nature of the fashion industry Bird Trouble serves as a vehicle to promote change and sustainability as well as a platform for other small business owners to connect.
“I think it’s important for people with small businesses to talk to each other and learn. Fashion and creativity thrive much better that way. Bouncing ideas off of one another and building a community together is an enriching experience for everyone involved.”
Showcased throughout her wardrobe is a sense of uninhabited nostalgia that Alexz emulates perfectly. Pieces like her beloved vintage camel fringe suede jacket, reworked leather ankle boots, and Clash band tee all play into her love for the 60s rock n’ roll, while an array of geometric print mod dresses and high waisted jeans explore her bohemian aesthetic.
Her body serves as a canvas through and through fusing together all her inspirations resulting in a manifestation of originality. From her Moon Shiner tattoo sprawling across both of her legs, which pays tribute to Bob Dylan to a sewing machine situated on her left forearm, Alexz wears and celebrates everything dear to her heart.
Alexz truly is someone who views the world though a cosmic kaleidoscope, constantly examining her experiences with more love than most know what to do with and fueling that straight into her various forms of self expression.