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Laila Wayans and Westy Perkins, the founders of 1321bleach.
Their latest collection of hoodies.
The designer duo in action.

    Up - And - Coming: In conversation with 1321bleach

    11 February 2020

    Los Angeles,

    By Katja Schmolka @katjaschmolka

    COOL FACTOR - Fashion meets Music & vice versa

    Laila Wayans and Westy Perkins like to do things their own way. That tells their appearance already. Laila with her long black braids that reach almost to her hips and Westy with his short blonde dyed hair both wearing the 1321bleach hoodies from the collection. The duo is a statement of self-expression and creative freedom. 

    In their tiny apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, every piece by 1321bleach is one of a kind crafted by hand from scratch. The duo merges artfully their vision of music with shades of extraordinary modern, goth and punk translated into their collections. When Laila and Westy are not dyeing and distressing fabrics, then they can be found DJing in the underground scene of Manhattans up-and-coming clubs and some of the hippest private parties. 

    How much is your brand influenced by music and fashion? How did it all start out? 

    Laila & Westy: Much of our relationship has always been based around music and fashion because we have similar interests. I remember being in highschool and we came to school both wearing the same fucking awesome hoodie and from there we knew that we had similar taste. We would listen to SOPHIE and always talk about music and clothes we thought were cool. After moving in together, it happened naturally. We would find clothes we thought were cool and take them apart/bleach them in our bathtub, and after making stuff for ourselves and our friends we decided to start taking it more seriously and sell it. At the same time, we started learning to DJ in our apartment instead of going out because no one played what we wanted to hear. We listen to such a wide range of music from PC, to screamo, to trap, and random SoundCloud artists that we started DJing so we could have fun when we went out and listen to what we wanted to hear. 1321 is split 50/50 between music and fashion, but also there isn’t really a difinitive title to what 1321 is, even though right now it’s primarily clothes. 1321 is anything and everything that we like and think is cool. 

    What is your brand’s message?

    Laila & Westy: I guess our message is just do what you want to do and don’t over think things. You don’t have to please people, just make things for yourself and someone somewhere will fuck with it. We started this for ourselves and people happened to like it, which still surprises us because we never really thought that people would resonate with it as much as they do. So yeah, I guess our message is to just be yourself. 

    The hoodies are made from scratch. Please tell us more about the creation process.

    Laila & Westy: At the moment, we are using blanks which we hand print our design onto. It started out super DIY we had no idea how to print hoodies or anything, we just looked up lots of stuff online and watched YouTube videos and then eventually got the supplies. Our first batch of screens were made in my bedroom, Westy build an exposure unit from scratch in our 500 square foot apartment. We ordered screens online and photo emulsion and used our bathroom as a fake dark room and our shower to rinse them. It was defintely lots of trial and error, as we didn’t really know what we were doing. We still don’t really cook food in our apartment because of this, we kind of ruined everything trying to learn how to make these hoodies. The design itself was made super randomly. We were watching the show The Act at the time and it triggered some inspiration, so we started editing pictures of Gypsy and Nick and eventually ended up putting our smiles on their mug shots. 

    What are your inspirations?

    Laila & Westy: There’s so many things that it’s honestly hard to even put into words. We draw inspiration from literally anything and everything. 

    Laila: Musically, I’m all over the place, but some of my favorites right now are Playboi Carti, Alex g, Laura les (osno1), Babyxsosa, Momma. 

    Westy: I listen to a lot of Arca, Aphex Twin, Death Grips, Sophie, Uzi, Carti, Sinjin Hawke, Zora Jones, Dylan Brady, Laura Les, Yeezus. And if there’s any influence to us fashion wise, it’s  Stacy House.

    Laila, you also have been studying music at NYU—do you remember a moment in your childhood which led you to music?

    Music has always been a part of my life from a very young age. I started playing the piano when I was around 4 and then, when I was 7, I picked up the drums because I wanted to play in my school talent show. I remember I literally formed a band with my classmates and we played " I love rock and roll ". Since I was young, music has always been my favorite part about life, so from the moment I started, I never really stopped. Since then, I’ve continued to play the drums and currently play in a band. After attending NYU, I have gotten more into producing/DJing, but it wasn’t until this past year that I’ve started to take myself seriously as a producer. As of now, I’m DJing under 1321 and making trap beats that I hope to sell to rappers and other artists. 

    Westy, your background is in fashion, having graduated from FIDM in Los Angeles. When was your magical moment of knowing that you wanted to pursue a career in that field?

    To be honest, there wasn’t really a “moment” I knew I wanted to work with clothes, it was all relatively gradual. I remember in high school, I just wanted to dress cool and, looking back on it, everything I wore was trash, but my college counselor was like "Why don’t you look into FIDM?" and I just figured why not, considering I didn’t really have any strong interest in going to college in the first place, but fashion was important to me, and then on the idea of making my own clothes grew, I guess. I knew what I liked during a given moment, but tastes evolve. Going to school for it made me hate fashion, though. I thought I was done. I didn’t care much while I was there and I didn’t care at all until, like, a year after I graduated. When I moved to New York, I wasn’t even thinking about clothes. I was just sitting in my room learning music production all day for months. It’s once I stopped taking things so seriously and stepped back sort of that I started to love it again. If I got anything out of school, it was a small understanding of graphic design. But still, most of the designs for 1321 are made on our phones. Laila and I just like the same shit, so it was cool to be excited about something with someone else. 

    Music and Fashion: How do you incorporate both in your brand? Do you host events?

    Laila & Westy: We are currently working on our first cut and sew collection that we hope to have out by summer! Other than that, we’re working on making more mixes this year and an EP that we hope to put out along with the clothes. 

    Do have a favorite place in NYC?

    Laila: I don’t know if I have a favorite place, specifically, but I love walking around the Lower East Side and Chinatown. My favorite part about NY is the fact that you can really just get up and go whenever. There’s no waiting on anything because everything is at your disposal and it’s so easy to get around. I sometimes just walk around and listen to music for fun. 

    Westy: Lower East Side definitely is the best neighborhood in Manhattan. I don’t know if it’s my favorite place, but honestly, I love our apartment. It’s messy as fuck and we have like a sink for a kitchen and my room is a bed, but it’s where everything is. It’s our studio. We make music, DJ, sew, dye, and do everything in here. The memories in here are important to me and it has a lot of character. We have this table from IKEA that is just stained to shit from all the dye/ink trials and bleaching, but I love it. The apartment represents the brand a lot. It feels like something we’ve built. 

    Are there any future plans?

    Laila: To produce a song for Playboi Carti and watch him perform the song wearing 1321bleach.

    Westy: Maybe to have a runway show, eventually. I want 1321 to have as many dimensions as possible and I think runways offer that chance. I love making visuals and shooting/editing video. I think if we could have a runway featuring our music, clothes, and visuals that would be crazy. I’ve had ideas from various runway shows for years. I don’t think clothing is very emotive. I think it’s either cool or it’s not. But in a runway show the different mediums in combination can be very emotional. I just would love to curate a whole runway down to the models, the way they walk, the landscape, weather - I don’t know, everything. 

    Thank you for the interview.

     


    Credits

    images courtesy of 1321bleach.com, @1321bleach



     
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