Producing everything from a seven-foot-long snake-shaped pillow to the world’s first totally recycled cotton T-shirt, EVERYBODY is reinventing what a fashion company can be — with help from a network of magically diverse collaborators.
Iris Alonzo and Carolina Crespo. Photography Harry Eelman.
"They're on the same universal trip," says Iris Alonzo of her friends Margot Jacobs and Ed Brachfeld. Margot is a landscape architect and Ed runs a production company. When Iris asked them to dream up a product, any product, that she would then manufacture through her new company, EVERYBODY, their first idea was "shaman wear." In the end, they landed on a capsule collection of just-so basics including an oversized sweatshirt and a flight suit. But they still included the slightly shamanic-sounding "Safe Place Poncho," a voluminous hooded twill pullover, in their offering.
EVERYBODY, which launches today, is a new kind of fashion and design company, headquartered in Los Angeles. If fashion brands have traditionally maintained their power by carefully communicating the vision of one or perhaps two established designers to the masses, EVERYBODY is the slightly hippyish internet-age reconfiguration of that top-down system: an open-source model for creating pieces designed by the very people who need and want them.
Iris and her co-founder Carolina Crespo talk about themselves more like community organizers, or spirit guides, than designers or creative directors. Their business plan involves bringing together eclectic groupings of like-minded friends and some local LA heroes, teasing out their ideas for products that would truly benefit them in their respective lives and professions, and ushering those products into existence. They will then release the fruits of those collaborations in organic batches, avoiding the traditional, seasonal fashion calendar. Iris and Carolina will commit to manufacturing each product for at least one year, "to give it time to evolve in the world," and will share ten percent of the profit from each sale with the product's designer.
Both women have spent years working in the fashion industry, and, after leaving their most recent positions at American Apparel, decided, "If we're going to do this again, each piece we put out, we need to make sure it's a product that's worth making." They also wanted to continue working with the long lists of Los Angeles manufacturers they'd cultivated, and to make sure that that their production process would be as ethically and ecologically sound as possible. "We have zero percent flexibility on that," they agree.
This fall, EVERYBODY will roll out pieces including: a unisex workman's jacket designed by artists Kalen Hollomon and Mae Elvis Kaufman; poetry-inscribed postcards by illustrator Dallas Clayton; a range of little black dresses by writer and chef Kiki Kudo; a boxy reversible top by Christopher Young (alias Grandfather), a 20-something artist who a friend of the company met in a Los Angeles Trader Joe's; sweatpants whose exact proportions were dictated by Prakash Gokalchand, a 74-year-old chess player who holds court in the park where Iris walks her dog; a snake-shaped, seven-foot-long batik body pillow masterminded by pioneering tech investor and Ettore Sottsass mentee Jean Pigozzi.
Adwoa Aboah, the recent i-D cover star and founder of women's mental health initiative Gurls Talk, also has a project in the works that will launch with the second round of products. "I can't say what it is yet but it's EXTREMELY comfortable," says Iris. Her friend's two-year-old son, Akira, will also supervise the creation of a tightly edited clothing collection inspired by Iris's admiration of his look ("Why can't I dress like you but just scaled up?" she has wondered in the past). And perhaps the ultimate fulfillment of the brand's all-inclusive mission: Iris's dog Charlie will consult on the design of a perfect custom-made leash. "We always imagined the brand as a sort of stage," says Iris, who envisions the products coming together in a "beautiful cacophony."
"Fashion is a very dirty industry," she continues. "Word on the street is that it's the second dirtiest after oil. And then there's the fashion aspect, which can be superficial, not very soulful." From its sunshine yellow branding to its profit-sharing model and enlightened production processes, EVERYBODY is a very human antidote to all that. Today, alongside Jean Pigozzi's "Hungry Snake Pillow," Iris and Carolina will also launch the world's first totally recycled cotton T-shirt, made entirely from the (usually discarded) cotton scraps swept up from factory floors.
Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Harry Eelman