I met Allie Teilz at her dome home in East Los Angeles- surrounded by trees, records, and beautiful suits to discuss her career, design and political work.
Starting a suit collection at 22 is a huge accomplishment, and you make it look so easy. How did it all start?
It all started when I was on tour with my boyfriend at the time. We had to go to this event and they brought him this beautiful rack of suits and they brought me dresses and heels, which really wasn’t matching my vibe at the time. So I tried on a suit and it was love at first sight. Then I realized that there was no one in the market that was making sexy, affordable suits for women. After a year of buying boys and men’s suits and altering them for my body, I decided to start making them on my own.
At the time I was living in downtown Los Angeles a few blocks away from the fashion district, so I started going to all the suit guys on the block and apprehended to learn how to make suits for DJ-ing and wearing on stage. Around the same time I was walking downtown wearing one of my red suits and at a stop light, I met these guys that were impeccably dressed in these beautiful suits. One of them was wearing a red suit as well and so I sparked up a conversation with them, and it turned out that they had a men’s custom suit line so we partnered up. The whole thing was about a four-year process from when I met them to when I launched in November.
You guys have done an amazing job. Your line is consistent yet diverse. What inspires the different looks in your collection?
The suits are definitely inspired by music. Whenever I watched soul train I always noticed a beautiful suit and was very inspired by the cover art from some of my favorite artists. Like the cover of nightclubbing with Grace Jones in that Armani piece is breathtaking, and definitely inspired by the Jackie Brown 70’s feel and Bianca Jagger. I love the classic feel, but also like to mix it with futuristic vibes.
On a side note, you actually met and worked with Grace Jones right?
Yes. Grace is the best. On a trip to Jamaica, I was DJ-ing a party on a dock in Port Antonio and she was there; it was incredible. I always play Grace in my DJ set but if there is an artist there I never really want to play their music because I’ve had some bad experiences before. I actually played a Frank Ocean remix When Frank was there and it didn’t go over well with him. So ever since I have been super cautious playing artists music. I asked Grace straight up if I could play some songs and she was like “I don’t give a fuck” and grabbed the microphone. For the next four hours, we played her entire catalog and she was just singing the most beautiful, mind blowing vocals over her music and we have been friends ever since. Grace is my idol. I can’t think of anyone who inspires me more than Grace Jones. I think she has such an amazing outlook on life and I love how gender bending and rule breaking she is. She’s just unapologetically herself; a true badass.
Speaking of gender-bending, the tone of your collection is almost genderless. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Well, what I’m interested in terms of fashion is being able to evoke confidence, strength, power, and really being in touch with both the masculine and feminine energy. Some of my favorite style icons were in touch with both sides. Like Bowie was incredible in the way he carried himself and the clothes he wore. His style definitely was in touch with his feminine side. I think its a really powerful thing for a person to feel comfortable and confident enough to have that duality. I don’t think sexuality is so cut and dry and we are at a time where we are seeing that balance transition into mainstream culture and fashion. Especially with the current state of the nation, I think its extremely important for women to take charge of themselves.
Do you have any advice for young girls trying to find their style voice?
I’ve always had my own style but when I was young I was kind of an outsider for this. I came from a place where everyone dressed exactly alike and if you didn’t you were an outcast. I’m really happy I didn’t let my surroundings curb that. So I guess I would tell them to really take the time to develop your own taste and style and don’t listen to anyone who insults you. Just be true to yourself.
Will you ever expand into children’s sizes?
Oh yeah my suits are really for everyone. We are working on having a feature on the site that is aimed towards kids but if you look at the sizing chart we start with 00 and go all the way to 18 because I want everyone to feel like they can rock a suit. I want my line to be inclusive to all body types and genders. Every suite is customizable because I want every body type to be able to feel comfortable, cool and sexy in any of the various cuts. We have customizable options from slim, wide, length, etc. It’s mad important to me that all of my suits are universal and will fit any body type. We have worked super hard on the sizing system to make it very clear and ensure a great fit. If you are in the LA area you can make an appointment to come in and get measured, and we can make something that is truly made for your body and fits like a glove.
What’s your process for picking up the fabric?
It all started with me not wanting to use wool. I saw a video about what goes down in the wool industry and it just scarred my brain. Most suits are made from wool but I think it’s pretty outdated because there are so many amazing fabrics you can use.
Viscose is my favorite because it’s super durable. You can spill on it or throw it in a suitcase for a week and it will still pop out like it’s right off the rack. I also love the satin and silks we use because they have a nice hue that catches the light beautifully. So the process of picking out the fabrics came down to what will stand the test of time, fabrics that won’t contribute to the wool industry or any kind of abuse, and what will look good on people performing, or simply a day at the office.
How are you able to keep your prices so low?
The price point is low because the first tier of suits are a poly blend which doesn’t have a large margin for profits because I would rather take less of a cut to ensure people are able to be suited up in a well-made piece of clothing that doesn’t support poor labor practices or any of that. It was super important to me to be able to visualize who I wanted to rock my suits and I didn’t have any interest in making something that was unattainable or an arm and a leg to buy. So we worked really hard to keep the price point low so that kids, artist and cool people could rock them and not just people on runways. That wasn’t an interest of mine. They start at 275.00 and go up from there. But the 275.00 suits are really beautiful and have a really 70’s feel because of the poly which is very breathable and durable.
Where are your future plans with this collection?
Right now we are working on the prom and spring collection. Which will be more lightweight and breathable. One of my favorite looks is the punky London look like shorts and a blazer, so there will definitely be some shorts and skirts in there.
I’m working with this amazing print maker named Shelly Mars right now. We are going to do some beautiful patterns kind of geometric and really dope. We are doing some two tones which will be really cool and playing around with patterns.
Let’s switch gears from your suits to your activism. You seem to have your hands in a lot of the various social movements. Can you talk about some things that are important to you outside of your fashion?
There’s a lot of really bad things that happen in the world and I’ve always felt an intense need to speak out for those who can’t necessarily use their voices and not to just acknowledge injustices but to actually work towards eliminating some of them and making the world a better place.
I think it’s so horrible that racism is still so alive in America, and sexism too. Especially in my industry it’s still running really ramped and there are still so many things that are happening in the world and I think its a shame that people don’t speak up about them. I think all art forms are amazing vehicles for social change. Where ever you can make a statement that will impact people or shed light on some injustices is really important to do so.
We’re living in a really critical time right now and it’s really important that people speak up and use their voices for others. Women rights, humans rights, animals rights I want to do what I can to work toward eliminating some of the darkness and hatred in this world. I’ve always found through music, fashion, art, whatever tools you have; you need to use those to try and eliminate some of the darkness.
I recently read an interview where you state you want to redefine what it means to be a woman. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
Spreading confidence, self-love and helping women feel comfortable in the clothes they want to wear. As I was entering the industry I was always being pushed towards having to wear a dress or wearing my hair and makeup a certain way and it’s not like that at all. Women can wear pants and a shirt and still be sexy.
Do you have any advice to girls living in smaller cities who might not have as many outlets?
I can speak from experience of growing up in a smaller town with a very sexist vibe that is pulsating through the city. My advice, don’t let anyone get you down and stay true to yourself and if you do encounter it then don’t let it stop you from doing what you want to do. Put yourself into your work and ignore the sexism. I know it can be very overwhelming But I truly feel that it is a dying breed and society as a whole is moving away from this sort of attitude. We need to unite and stand together with our sisters and if we see cases like that stand up for your friends, for you sisters and yourself.
If you see sexism happening around you, on the internet or in person it’s very important that you speak up. We are stronger in numbers. I do believe we have the ability to stand strong and united and be above the horrible sexism that is alive in the world.
What are some of your hobbies outside of fashion and music?
I love martial arts. I’ve been doing karate for a couple of years and just got into jujitsu and it’s really fun. I love hiking and reading. I’m always down for an adventure like traveling and seeing different places and meeting different people.
So what’s next?
Right now I’m working on the new line and an EP. We also have been working with people who make solar panels for pockets so even if your suits in the sun for 5 minutes you can slide your phone in and it will charge. Working with the tech community and testing new products with different fabrics has been really exciting. Working on music and designing new things and trying to combat some of the evil that’s happening in the world we have been working toward setting up women on skid row who are going to job interviews because the homeless problem is so bad in LA. We have been trying to develop a program where women can some down to the office, get suited up and look all star and polished of job interviews.
*Feminist Babes- From left top: Cooper T. Moll Bianca Lemaire Baby Corvus Mellori Felicity Jayn Heath Julianna Lacoste Allie Teilz Brittany Chung Nina Tarr Lindsey Troy *