TAILOR PROFILE SERIES VOL. 15 WITH LEXI SMITH
This series follows Tailors from around the world–highlighting their craft, passions, love for the brand and the impact they have on bettering the planet through extending the life of your garments. For Vol. 15, we interviewed Lexi Smith from Los Angeles, California. This volume explores Lexi’s passion for circular fashion through her love of thrifting, upcycling, and patchwork designs as a Tailor at Levi’s® Topanga Plaza.
MEET LEXI SMITH
Tell us about how you got started in fashion and design.
I went to FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) and graduated with a Bachelors in Fashion Design. In the beginning it was challenging trying to balance the different facets of the curriculum but it only made me work harder. Everything I learned in school was considered the standard of the industry. I quickly realized after graduating that my design process is unconventional and it allows me to create in a way that is unique to me, which is represented in my work.
Tell us about your journey as a Tailor for Levi’s®.
When I first stepped into a Tailor Shop I was blown away because it was how I always envisioned my own studio would look like. I started out with Levi’s® as an in-store stylist, but got a chance to work with the Lead Tailor at the time. I enjoyed it so much that when I found out that the Topanga location was hiring a Tailor, I knew I had to go for it. It’s been really cool connecting with customers and teaching them something new in the Tailor Shop.
Tell us about your love for denim.
The versatility and classic style of denim has always inspired me. Denim has transcended the decades–from mining pants in the 1850s to becoming a Country Western staple in the 1920s, from facilitating the path for women's liberation in the 60s to being a pillar of counterculture in the 1970s. And today, it’s even a part of luxury high fashion. The versatility of denim creates endless possibilities and that’s why I’m consistently drawn to it.
I love finding random thrift stores in different cities and exploring the racks looking for one of a kind treasures that someone left behind. Each piece tells a story and that’s the ideology I want to follow when I create.
What’s the intention behind the upcycled vintage pieces you created for the Levi’s® archives?
Through these pieces I want to tell a story that represents my outlook on present-day fashion. I want them to embody a new wave of upcycling, making people more aware and conscious of where this type of fashion can go. Sustainability is the onward trend of the industry and I want these pieces to speak on that.
What is your first memory of having a connection with an artist or designer that inspired you to start your journey?
In 2019 I worked backstage at the BET experience for a fashion show. One of the designers was Karl Kani and his collection really changed my view on luxury streetwear. Seeing the 90s influence represented in his designs made me more confident in wanting to create inventive, vintage influenced pieces.
Where is your favorite place to travel to gather inspiration?
Going on road trips brings me the most inspiration. I love finding random thrift stores in different cities and exploring the racks looking for one of a kind treasures that someone left behind. Each piece tells a story and that’s the ideology I want to follow when I create.
Through these pieces I want to tell a story that represents my outlook on present-day fashion. I want them to embody a new wave of upcycling, making people more aware and conscious of where this type of fashion can go.
You are well known in the Tailor community for patchwork designs. What’s your process for designing a piece?
Draping is a big part of my process. When I go to thrift stores I always pick up as much denim as I can find so I can repurpose it. I usually cut it all up and just start playing with different shapes and silhouettes on my dress form. I can quickly determine what ideas work and don’t work. I try not to overthink the process and just let the concepts flow.