Pleasures is a fashion brand that looks to create an identity beyond just physical garments. Founders Alex James and Vlad Elkin transform their inspirations of alternative 1990s subcultures and the DIY lifestyle into clothing that evokes feelings of nostalgia. It comes out in pieces like the Heroin Bob memorial T-shirt and the Sid Vicious love letter coach jacket. The hope is to get younger generations hip to what is actually influencing them, not just what influences their influencers.
Here Alex James discusses why he’s into the clothing choices of Italian youth in the 1980s and the enduring power of Telly, the virgin surgeon.
How did Pleasures begin?
The concept started out of sheer boredom. I was living in a new place and had a creative itch that needed to be fulfilled. My friend and partner Vlad always said that we should put out our ideas as opposed to just talking about them. When Edison Chen opened his 3125C art pop-up last year, he asked us to participate. The brand first debuted on June 6, 2015 in Los Angeles.
How does Pleasures distinguish itself as more than a clothing brand?
PLEASURES is based on my past life experiences. Our graphic concepts represent specific time periods in our lives—tangible feelings and expression real people can relate to.
On the Pleasures website, a tab that says “Consume”pops up. Why did you decide to use that language instead of something more neutral like, “Shop”?
Society is here to consume. What a better way to say, “Hey, buy me.” Our website is very minimal. You can get a real feel for the brand from our visual mood board, aka our Instagram. We are exploring more printables, such as zines, posters, and large format canvases.
What are some pleasures that exist in everyone’s mind?
Everyone has all types of thoughts on a wide scale of emotions, from the most pleasant and uplifting, to the darkest and disgusting. It’s whether you choose to keep them in or release them and show who you are.
What subcultures from the ’90s influence your fashion and expression of today?
The east coast hardcore/punk scene raised me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Going to shows, you meet all types of people. At a very young age I was a sponge absorbing and observing my surroundings. The concepts of DIY, believing in yourself, and not following trends still holds true with me today.
What are some youth subcultures from the ’90s that are important to you that most people may not know about?
The Sandwich Bar Boys of Milan (aka Paninaro), who wore the illest outerwear. They were on Stone Island and Moncler before anyone knew anything. Mexican Party crews of LA—they were on some next level shit. I would see photos in zines and hear about them, but I never go to experience it first hand.
What’s your favourite scene from Kids?
I remembering going to see Kids in NYC back in the day. The opening scene with Telly really draws you in and holds your attention for the duration of the film.
What’s your favourite scene from SLC Punk?
My favorite scene is when the guys head into a liquor store and the attendant behind the counter is looking at them crazy. He asks if they are Nazi devil worshippers and then Stevo shows his stick and poke 666 tattoos on his ass. Classic moment in American cinema.
Why do you think the ’90s have such an impact on fashion and subculture today?
Fashion is cyclical. People who grew up in the ’90s now have some money and the means to push their ideas. To me, it was one of the best eras in history on a global scale.
Do you think today’s youth are missing out on something by having access to everything?
In a world where accessibility is everything, it leaves you thinking about the days of pure exploration. Take some time to disconnect from all your devices and go outside. You may find something you never know existed.