Downtown LA has truly become a mecca for the fashion industry; on every corner is a garment factory, a showroom, or a beautiful boutique. In the throws of DTLA we met Victor Xie, the designer of one of our new favorite brands, Victor Twist. Xie is a native Angeleno that has been there and done it all. With an extensive background in the industry with top fashion houses as well as a degree from Parson’s School Of Design, Xie has the chops to make it through the long haul.
Xie defines his own aesthetic as “unfussy,” but there is nothing boring about his brand new collection. Every detail has been planned and has a purpose. We sat down with Xie to take a peak at his brand new collection and talk about his design inspirations, his obsession with eyes, and dating in our technologically savvy world.
Labeling Men: Tell us a little about yourself and how you started the fashion industry?
Victor Xie: It kind of goes a bit back to when I was in college, originally I was studying something entirely different, but I wanted to do something creative so I decided to intern with one of my friend’s companies - they do women’s shoes. At the place I touched a lot of assisting, that’s when I decided to move forward with it. So I finished school and got my B.A. and then I went to Parson’s [School of Design] and worked in NY for mostly women’s wear in the beginning, I worked at Tory Burch for a while, Proenza Schouler and Alexander Wang. At that period I was kind of looking to starting my own thing, but that was the beginning of the economic downfall so I was traveling mostly, looking for manufacturers and sourcing stuff and I was traveling for almost half a year. I’m originally from LA, so I decided to come back and do everything from here at the same time working. We really wanted to explore what’s out there.
Labeling Men: So what inspired the shift to menswear?
Victor Xie: I think what it is, I see menswear as more relatable; I mean I’m a guy. Sometimes when I was working in women’s wear I was unable to grasp in terms of directions and what women want because the market is moving so fast. So I kind of stepped back and decided to do something I could relate to and doing something that I see the market has a niche and a need. Going forward doing something that’s a little bit different and I can see myself in or see my friends in.
Labeling Men: You mentioned you were studying something entirely different; what did you start out with?
Victor Xie: I started out Language, I was very interested in that in college but I always dabbled in the arts.
Labeling Men: When you started in the fashion industry, was the goal always to be a designer?
Victor Xie: Yes, I think the goal was always to have my own label and put forward my own vision, but I needed to gain some experience in terms of how to think and how to turn the creative process into tangible clothing that can also fit into the market.
Labeling Men: It’s always so cool to see a sketch become an actual product. How would you describe your aesthetic?
Victor Xie: Clean, modern, and unfussy. How I dress is very much, like I don’t accessorize, so I try to put attention to detail into the clothing. But keeping in mind that I think it is versatile and can be worn multiple ways. The vision I want to put forth is the detail is already in the clothes and already embellished so you can throw it on and go on your way. The main thrust of our clothing, I mean we don’t do suits or anything formal, it’s downtown and for you to play in.
Labeling Men: How would you label your own personal style?
Victor Xie: It’s very west coast, LA, laid back and relaxed. In the label, I like to do things like this jumpsuit that kind of scares me a little.
Labeling Men: Something you wouldn’t exactly wear…
Victor Xie: [Laughs] Yes, but I like to explore. My models always go forth with something that might frighten you a little, so I like to go into that. I have this obsession with eyes because of this horror story I was told as a child, so I like to face these daunting tasks I guess that’s unseen or I haven’t experienced before.
Labeling Men: How would you label the guy who wears your line?
Victor Xie: He is young and very modern and has a little unwillingness to grow up and playfulness.
Labeling Men: I can definitely see that coming through! What differentiates you from other menswear lines?
Victor Xie: I think what we do is paying attention to details and the material we source ourselves, and we are always looking for new things, and a lot of the fabric we do is very technical. The jersey you see is a high-tech jersey we do that’s cool to the touch and very easy to wear and comfortable. I would like to think I am putting something forward that’s not revolutionary, but more of an evolved form of menswear that’s changing from what’s already in the man’s closet and putting a little more flair to it.
Labeling Men: Awesome! Who or what would you say are your biggest inspirations?
Victor Xie: I think the different ways that men interact with society in general and different lifestyles. This season we really looked at athletic lifestyle and different boards - skateboards, surfboards - and we ultimately decided on sand surfing. We looked at more functional clothing and bringing a little more edge, making it more fashionable. Also, what really inspires me is a lot of the modern technology and the connection between science and nature. The ants was my obsession with [Salvador] Dali, he always puts ants in his paintings as a form of expression with sexual frustration. With the current dating atmosphere I think that’s relevant. Transforming it into a way that’s wearable clothing.
Labeling Men: It’s really cool, you wouldn’t really notice it’s an ant until you look closely.
Victor Xie: Exactly. We tried to make it more abstract, more like a grid. Our other inspiration was lines and grids this season; we wanted something a little more graphic.
Labeling Men: So, what is your take on the dating atmosphere?
Victor Xie: [Laughs] I think everyone is a little frustrated, they feel the need to make a connection. Everyone is so desperate to make a connection that they are will to try Tinder, or whatever is out there. But I do feel a shift in how everyone interacts. LA is little different than New York I would say. When I lived there you would just go to a bar or any social situation and anyone would be willing to start a conversation with you; that’s not the case in LA. When I go out with my friends, it’s weird when a stranger talks to you, you just hang out with your group. Everyone is not a New Yorker in New York so there is a willingness to reach out and make that first step to make the connection. In LA people think we are more friendly, but I think there is a barrier.
Labeling Men: I feel like everyone is LA is more judgmental, looks wise.
Victor Xie: But New Yorkers are much more vocal about it [laughs].
Labeling Men: Who would you say is your biggest inspiration or who you aspire to emulate?
Victor Xie: What we are doing is not related, but Dries Van Noten. I know our aesthetic is different, but what he does is classic, it’s always new, it’s always fresh and he always tries to do something very unexpected but keeping in mind that we are not trying to reinvent the wheel. [He] plays with patterns, plays with different silhouettes. The longevity also has some admiration too.
Labeling Men: What is next for you?
Victor Xie: We are putting out the next season and we are definitely looking to expand. We want to be more conscious about where our products come from, that is something we definitely want to be more aware of, especially in this time. Our stuff is made overseas but our team visits all the factories and makes sure everything is in a humane as possible way and a good environment. We have all these mass marketers; it’s hard to compete. We want to offer people great products at a great price. We don’t want situations where factories collapse during earthquakes. Also, our next season we will be doing more outerwear. Last season we focused on basics.
Labeling Men: Any advice for aspiring designers?
Victor Xie: Get as much experience as you can, work hard. A lot of the time this industry is a lot of hard work, but you don’t see the reward until later. But you have to keep on keepin’.
Shop the collection and find out more at victortwist.com
Interview by Mischa Teichgraeber
Photographs by Amelia Williams