ALEXA WEST & SOPHIA DiRADO | Textile Designers, Students, BFF's
Part of the Clothes Are Just Clothes photo series, this is a conversation with THE KIT. Founder and Creative Director Daniel Vosovic and friend, exploring the relationship between fashion and self.
Photographed by Timothy Mulcare
D: Thanks for coming by! Can you introduce yourselves?
S: I'm Alexa West.
A:...and I'm Sophia DiRado.
D: Well this is already going horribly (laugher)! So how do you two know one another?
S: We go to school together. We have every class together.
D: Are you serious? I didn't know you had every class together?
S: Almost every class.
A: Together almost everyday for four years. We really like each other (laughing)!
D: That much is apparent. So jumping right in, what role does fashion have in your daily life? Does it matter to you?
S: No it doesn’t (laughs). Of course it does! We've both decided to go into apparel/print design.
D: Why is that? You guys are officially studying textile design correct? Why choose apparel as a career path?
S: I see it as a creative outlet in the day to day. Something very little to do for yourself. I also think it gives you a sense of pop culture and a variety of inspiration from different people. It's an art that you can go outside and see.
A: It's an everyday art. Everyone can express it their own way. I feel like in a lot of ways it can dictate your mood for the day or how you feel about yourself for the day.
D: Do you feel you dress for your mood or is you mood dictated by your look?
A: I think I dress for my mood.
S: Yeah but if your mood changes during the day or you wear something a little risky and halfway through the day you're not feeling it as much, it will definitely effect your mood.
D: Speaking of moods. I heard that there's a story involving the power of a changing mood and how fashion played a role in it.
A: So a bit of backstory, I have a really nice leather jacket that I love wearing, it's really nice and warm, super soft, I love wearing it. In all honesty, it's one of the nicest things I own (laughs). Here it is. So the story is, Soph was going out on like a fifth date with this guy and...
S: I had been seeing this guy a few times: drinks, museum visits, he was a slightly older French guy.
T: Oh... what was his name?
D: Well I have a surprise for you Sophia… Emile, come on out!
S: (laughing) I'd probably just start laughing if you actually did that! So Alexa and I had just started becoming closer friends, we had just moved in with our other friend, Alexis... a trio. So we'd all hang out together and this night I was getting ready, I had this blue velvet top on and these cute jeans..
D: Something to really get the boys excited.
S: (laughs) Yeah the blue velvet! SO I had this denim jacket on that just didn't feel right, so Alexa offered me her lovely leather jacket. Which was really really nice and as you know, a big step in a friendship as it was a really expensive piece of clothing and she trusted me with it. So I put it on, head out to meet him wearing the denim jacket on top, cause it's like 30 something degrees, like it's not snowing but it's definitely cold.
A: Yeah it was after that massive snowstorm in New York, February or March maybe.
D: And you're wearing a denim jacket? I feel like your mother.
S: Yeah but everything was melting and it was kinda getting warmer so I was overly optimistic. I didn't want to carry too much weight on me. By the way, I am notoriously SO BAD with directions.
A: She doesn't know the difference between uptown and downtown.
S: I do now! Oh, at that time. True. It's such a simple concept that I just didn't understand!
A: The numbers go up. Where were you meeting?
S: This little dingy bar in the east village called Shoolbred’s. Somewhere on East 12th Street.
A: I think it's closing.
S: Oh man, that's sad. Well I'd never been there before and had to navigate getting there on my own. I put my music on when I left, was in such a good mood, hopped on the train and messaged him "Hey, I'm running a few minutes late, the train was delayed". So I got off the train and it's like you are coming out of a rabbit hole. That's how I always feel when you walk out of the subway and you don't know where you are. So I just continued to walk using the directions on my phone, no ear buds because in NYC I always try to act like I know what I'm doing (laughs). "300 feet. Turn right. Turn left. Turn right." So I'm following the directions and I look down at my phone and the battery is at 10 percent. It's dark. It has started to rain. There's nobody out and it was like a Friday night so things should have been happening… people should've been out. I look around and it's not there. I’m not where I'm supposed to be. So I text him "I'm really lost, I don't know where I am" and... my phone dies immediately after it sends. I'm lost. No clue where I was. It's pouring rain. It was so cold out. So I decided to walk back to the main street. I can't remember, I think I ended up in Alphabet City all the way on the east side. So after wandering around like this for awhile I finally figured out where I was and retraced my steps and just kept walking to find someone or something. In the middle of this freezing rain I see a bright red light with the bar name SHOOLBRED'S shining out to me.
D: You're like ‘Ahhhhhhhh’!
S: Totally! After 30 minutes of walking, not knowing where I was, wearing awful shoes, soaking wet, and I go in looking around for him and I'm like "I'm here! I made it!", and he's just not there. It’s such a tiny bar and I knew he wasn't there. I went to the bathroom and said "It's ok, you're fine." So I went to the place next door, it was a deli. I don't know what happened to me, I was a mess. It was a messy night for me. I think I lost my wallet or something at that time, or I didn't have my debit card. I only had twenty dollars on me. I had planned on using these 20 dollars to buy a drink and buy a ticket for the subway home.
D: Dude, this story is so painful.
S: I know, I was so stupid!
D: Not stupid, you were optimistic, it's all good.
S: I go into the deli and I buy a phone charger with the last 20 dollars I have and it was like $19.50. So the guy was nice enough to let me charge my phone in the deli for a few minutes even though they were closing. So after a few minutes of all of us waiting, I was like 'OK I have 30% percent, that's fine'... and then all of these texts start coming in from him "How do you get lost in New York City? I don't understand?" I got tired of waiting so I just left"...
A: He wasn't even worried. You texted that you were legitimately lost and he wasn't even concerned.
S: I ended up walking back home all the way across town in the pouring rain, pissed off, disappointed. "He's missing out cause this would make the best movie scene of all time! I'm going to make millions off of this one day!" I have phases between anger and forcing myself not to cry.
A: Sophia tries to act like she's tough and has a really tough exterior.
S: It's true.
D: But she's a softie deep down.
S: So soft.
S: So I'm making my way back to the dorm and I keep saying "You're not gonna cry. You're not gonna cry. This is New York City, you don't cry here.
D: (laughter) That's a good rule. I love that! "It's New York City, you're not allowed to cry here.
S: You just wait until you're home and then you can do it there. So I get to Alexa’s room and knock "Are you there? Are you awake?" It must've been like 11:45pm or something.
A: No you didn't even call and our door was always open - you’d always just bust through! Just like every morning (laughter). So there was a hallway before you got into our bedroom, and I hear her walk through the door and I go to the end of the hallway…
D: You hear wet, swamp footprints.
A: It made me want to cry. She was just standing there soaking wet.
S: Her roommate Alexis saw me first cause her bed was nearest the door, and she just looks at me in pure shock, gasping. I walk in and start screaming! Everything happens at once and and we're all just peeling the leather and denim off of me. “Get this off of me - I hate it!”.
D: So to sum this up.
S: That jacket ruined my life (laugher)!
D: That's an intense story.
A: Yeah but it also was a good friendship moment too because this was also when we were starting to become closer.
S: The first time I broke down in front of her. So, there was some good that came out of it.