Alexa Stark challenges the idea of over consumption by creating a ‘less is more’ approach to her fashion designs. “I have a fascination with nothingness,” says Alexa, whose models are often clothed from the waist up, standing barefoot in an empty space, forcing the viewer to be directed to the clothes.
A graduate of Parsons The New School of Design in New York, Alexa grew up in New York City — her father was an art dealer and her mother a stylist. From both her parents, Alexa developed a love for the arts quite early, but it wasn’t necessarily fashion. In fact she describes her growing up period as anti-fashion. “I did everything the opposite. I chopped off my hair and wore boys’ clothes. I got frustrated with not really understanding my feminine side and what that meant to me, and not having a crazy amount of money and going to school where a lot of people did, wasn’t easy,” Alexa picked Parsons because she felt it offered the best fashion program, but grew to hate it. “It was like going to business school. There was no campus life or dorm life.
In the midst of New York’s high-end clothing industry was this anti-fashion girl who felt more disconnected than ever. She preferred vintage stores to brand names. She wanted to make a statement without becoming just another designer at Marc Jacobs. While in New York, she designed sustainable clothes made from reworked and found vintage fabrics, selling it on the streets and eventually starting a pop-up business called Mustard. “There were three of us that focused on clothing, and others were involved in the graphics. ” Shortly after, she help start Absolute Beginners that was run by 11 students and professors from Parsons, which lasted one year because it got “too tricky.”
After two decades of living in New York City, Alexa was ready to ditch the designer labels and flashy logos. “I was searching for a place where my lifestyle could also be represented in my clothes.” Alexa, who simultaneously appreciates and congratulates Portland’s independent way of thinking, also felt trapped in a sort of fashion bubble. “It’s hard to find a global community here. It’s a great place, but it’s limiting in a sense because you end up making clothes for the clients of Portland. We have so many great ideas; we think locally, and our materials are great, but it’s a thing that we need to bring outside of this place. She enjoys using materials like hemp, organic cotton and felted wools, which embody the Portland consumer but the looks themselves represent a more diverse demographic. And she does plan to expand her business to Japan, Korea, Germany, Holland and France. Alexa admits to living solely off her work.