You can instantly recognize Alix Higgins’ designs for their color prints and sporadically placed text. Forever inspired by Tumblr, the 28-year-old eponymous designer has found his niche by creating clothes that play at the intersection of youth culture and the internet. Higgins’ signature aesthetic is as if your MySpace has been dug up and snippets of your About Me have been scanned, collaged and printed onto long strips of nylon.
Take, for example, the glittering sunset stripe that looks like it came out of a printer that’s almost empty and is adorned with words like “fairy,” “baby,” and “immortal.” Perfectly fitting amid the revival of the Y2K aesthetic and no doubt why Alix Higgins’ designs have been popular with the likes of Grimes and Hunter Schafer.
Almost two years ago, during the pandemic-related lockdowns, a photo of Higgins wearing one of his own designs in his studio apartment became the first unofficial “lookbook” for the brand. The image prompted a flood of orders, first from friends and then from locals in Sydney, Australia – giving Higgins the excuse he needed to launch his eponymous brand.
Growing up in a remote coastal town in Australia, Higgins felt bereft of his creative opportunity, prompting him to seek it at the most extreme level. An early obsession with fashion history at the age of 10 led Higgins to pursue his own fashion fantasy. This aspiration led him to Paris, where he completed a Masters of Fashion at the Institut Français de la Mode and worked as a print designer at Marine Serre during the label’s rise.
Now back in Sydney, Higgins has just launched his first full collection, A Gift From The Fall, for his eponymous brand. The pieces are rich in text, with key words and phrases drawn from the collection’s title. The collection’s name refers to Higgins’ experience of finding something positive in a time of so much turbulent change. “When I was preparing some of the fabric for the show samples, my printer asked me if I was okay. He was very worried about me dancing on men’s graves,” he tells me, half-jokingly.
For a label still in its infancy, Higgins’ collection has a sense of growth and maturity. It’s not necessarily the introduction of understated, muted pieces, as the sharp colors are still there, as are the skin-tight silhouettes. Instead, it’s the move toward more classically fashion-forward pieces, the result of more draping and couture techniques that Higgins honed at IFM, that allow him to meld the old with the new.
What started as an exploration of color and printed text during his graduate and masters collections grew into a full collection. There are parallels to Marine Serre’s printed second-skin pieces, although Higgins’s seem reimagined for the more fluid, expressive consumer – those who, like him, grew up scouring the web and spending hours on Tumblr feeds to spend.
For Higgins, staging his first runway show at Australian Fashion Week last spring was a crash course in realizing a vision. Luckily, armed with a team of friends-turned-collaborators, A Gift From The Fall became a gift for all of us. To mark the launch of the collection, we caught up with the visionary designer to understand the allure of print, Australia’s most controversial silhouette and the brand’s future plans.
On camouflage and polka dots
“I always did the gradient sunset strip. I try to challenge myself every season and expand my brand’s vision to see how maybe I can do things I hate in my own way. Last season it was camouflage and I wanted to try more militant styles. This is where silk camouflage came from. It was really exciting to work on this season. I wanted to make polka dots, which I usually hate, but they’re really fresh, bright green. Both [the] Polka dot and camouflage, these are prints that feel a bit dated and daggy to me, but they’re also iconic and universal, so I tried to reinterpret them. I end up loving her.”
About brand muses
“It’s a tricky thing. I’m always particularly inspired by musicians and performers. This frenetic energy on stage is the immediate starting point when I think of design. It [also] helps that a lot of my friends are very creative in their own personal style so they inspire me. Also, it’s a lot of what I want to wear.”
On skirts as “menswear” and Speedos on the catwalk
“I like to wear skirts and identify as a man. For me it was never a political statement. Most of my friends are queer and wear whatever they want. If that happens to be a skirt from a 2008 Prada collection with a terrible sweater, then that’s it. It’s never put me off whether something is men’s or women’s fashion. My brand is the same. It’s universal because I think that’s how people dress.
In terms of Speedos on the runway, my brand is unabashedly commercial. Swim is a commercial product that sells very well for me, but I also think it’s the pinnacle of sexiness. So much of what I had in mind for the show was to show the body, so swimwear allows me to build a silhouette [for] the body with a speedometer base.”
About fashion as a tool for self-discovery and expression
“That has always been the thesis of my brand and what fashion meant to me. It was always about communicating my identity. I don’t quite understand what trends are and why people care so much about them. I think brand loyalty is much more interesting. I’m obsessed with the designers communicating what I’m interested in, [and] when they’re still communicating the same ideas a season later. My brand has always been about [being] a tool for people’s identity and tools that I couldn’t find anywhere else on the market.”
“The Australian Fashion Week show was such a big moment for me. It was my first show and it opened a lot of doors for me. Right now I’m really enjoying the glow and warmth it gave off. There will be another show and I’ll be putting out a small collection at the end of the year. I’m also working on my band Patamon now that I have some time between collections. There are other things in the mix. Consolidation of production and brand codes. Sounding out partnerships and hopefully a space offer soon. All in all, the future looks bright.”
Shop Alix Higgins’ A Gift From The Fall collection here.