As evidenced by the fact that ye olde Americana doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, I may be speaking mostly for myself when I say I miss the days when streetwear was streetwear. And when I say streetwear my friends, I mean streetwear. Reminisce with me for a moment back to a time when one could find the youth of the city draped in all-over print hats, jeans in varying states of full blown day glo hues and t-shirts that demanded a particular sort of attention (most often through clever combinations of conventional logo’s and that tried and true stalwart of the English language, “fuck”). It was a special moment. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and when it came to those defining years when streetwear was pushing culture, not a mainstream part of it, nobody did it better than Alife.
Alife was without question one of the more daring and innovative streetwear lines in a genre that was already seen as something of a loose cannon in a world that was still recovering from 3XL’s t-shirts or mainly concerned with SB Dunks and Levi Shrink to Fit’s. The line was a statement of color blocking mastery, with the occasional experiments in ridiculous logo jacking, Cookie Monster eyes, polka dot crews, and impressive heather’s and basics. Basically, it was everything a great streetwear line should be, irreverent, brash, innovative and immaculately conceived. If you saw someone else with Alife in 2006, you know they put in groundwork to get their hands on a piece.
Before I get emotional describing how genius it was for Alife to be producing selvedge jeans in 2006 with a plaid cuff lining long before everyone began dressed like a J.Crew catalog, or how they moved before the market, flipping traditional oxfords and khaki’s into flippant all-over print takes on classic pieces before you all traded your Jordans and Street’d your Etiquette, let me just say this. It’s sad to see some of the once dominant streetwear lines reduced to pale imitations of basics you’d be far better off buying at the Gap.
There’s a reason we were all attracted to these brands back in high school and college, and it’s not because they could find an innocuous way to sew their logo along the waist line of a half assed, cheaply produced chino pant. Streetwear was glorious when it still knew that it was streetwear.
Applause for one of the best to have ever done it.