By Jacklyn Tran
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
As Alfred Lape strolled the walkways of UW as a student, it wasn’t the department he was headed toward that indicated his passion in life. It was what he did while walking between classes that was telling. Instead of his head being stuck in a book, he was lost in his yarn and knitting needles, weaving together his latest concept of a hat. Ambling along the stone paths that so many others had taken at the university, Lape at the time was unaware he would soon be creating his own trail.
Today, 26-year-old Lape is a creative director, visionary, owner, and the soul behind LAVSH, a premium men’s fashion line. He has foregone the idea of using his history degree to base his career, opting instead for the opportunity to make his own mark in fashion history.
During high school and college, Lape studied the style of others in magazines and videos from all over the world, used his knitting and crocheting as a way to release creative energy and relieve stress.
When he enrolled in an introduction to apparel construction class at Seattle Central Community College, he had no idea he would leave the class with much more than basic sewing skills. There he met his instructor-turned-mentor, Jacque Goldsmith, an experienced seamstress who has worn many hats in the fashion industry throughout her 25-year-and-counting career.
“I was struck by his curiosity and creativity,” mentioned Goldsmith.
As Lape remembered, “We started talking more and more and she saw my potential. Everything she told me to do, I would do it and do it quick — read a book, sew this. I did it as fast as I could because I was serious about it. She’s been kind enough to share her knowledge with me. … She’s been there to lead the way for me.”
From technical to social aspects, the paperwork and business side of things to the artistic side, Lape has had to delve into it all. Luckily he hasn’t let the words of discouragement dissuade him from his vision.
“People have told me to be realistic, to go back to school, do something else. But I’ve had the courage to prove [myself], to go beyond all that,” said Lape.
Then there were those who dared him to dream, like best friend Danny Prasad, whom he met when he was 12.
“Danny has encouraged me, he helps me coordinate events, socializing, networking. He believes in me enough that he comes out of pocket to pay for business trips or for fabric when I can’t,” said Lape.
With his design work all-encompassing, Lape has no time to find a day job. He lives and breathes fashion. With each piece handcrafted by him alone, he often finds himself sewing 16 to 17 hours a day.
Although he may not be living lavishly now, Lape envisions his success constantly and shows so much determination it seems inevitable.
But extravagance is not the only thing that LAVSH represents. “LAVSH is about living a lifestyle — not just about money but about abundance of other things, too. [It’s] like going to the gym to get yourself physically right and [having] good relations with your family. It’s about having a balanced life,” explained Lape.
With few Asian American role models in the industry, Lape has been able to identify with one of the youngest and most successful in the business today: Jonas Bevacqua, founder of Lifted Research Group, better known as LRG clothing.
“I want to take over the world but still spread a message and live a dream,” Lape said. “Especially being a minority, you don’t see it much out there. I used to look up to Black culture and then found Jonas and saw so much of myself in him. Just to see him make it is like seeing myself make it.”
With his own company, Lape wants to create a platform for others with potential that have struggled to find opportunity and faced as much adversity as he has. But the hardships haven’t slowed him down, and to show for it is a line that can be best described as innovative; the collection has bold pieces that are reconstructed and original, which makes a statement while still giving off a very refined air.
“I have worked with many young designers and was impressed with Alfred’s use of ordinary fabrics in extraordinary ways,” Goldsmith said. “His design aesthetic and mix of colors and patterns showed a high level of sophistication that is rare for a young designer.”
Lape has recently styled Super Cr3w, the season two winners of MTV’s competition show America’s Best Dance Crew. His garments have also found their way into the hands of Will.I.Am, of the Black Eyed Peas, and Talib Kweli, among others.
With a promising future ahead, Lape has one constant goal in mind.
“My mom came from the Philippines with a suitcase,” said Lape. “She’s been a single parent to me and my brother since my dad died. … That’s why I grind hard — to help her. I want to retire my mother, who’s helped me financially. Retire my mentor. Give back to the friends who’ve fed me along the way.” (end)
For more information on LAVSH, please visit www.lavshlv.com.
Jacklyn Tran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.