Continuing our series of interviews with tattooed clothing brand owners we spoke with Brooklyn based designer Alyssa Key of Love Brigade (seen in the photo above). Although the clothing doesn’t look to be influenced by tattoo culture fans of Love Brigade believe in the brands concept and motto so whole-heartedly that many of them have gotten the logo permanently tattooed on their skin.
Inked: What was your first tattoo?
Alyssa: Oh boy. Hmmm. Let me preface this by saying that this tattoo I am about to describe was definitely the first of its’ kind, before it became a derogatory tattoo. My first love (at age 16) was a graffiti artist, and while looking through his sketchbook one day, I discovered a sketch of really cool Native American smoke he designed. I knew that was to be my first tattoo. So I took the sketch to my friend Santana at Fountain of Youth in St Augustine, Florida and told him “let’s do it!” Then the question of “where?” came up. I thought, mind you this is 1995, “wow, a really beautiful spot that no one has done yet would be on my lower back.” So bam, that was the perfect place and we did it. Fast forward a few years, girls all across the Southern US start getting tribal tattoos and they become coined as “tramp stamps.” Currently, it is one of two pieces my back piece is strategically covering.
Inked: What is your most memorable tattoo?
Alyssa: My evolving back piece. The tree covering my back is a customized and conceptual “tree of life” that grows as I grow. I have a survival anniversary date of a near-successful suicide from 8 years ago, on Oct 4th, 2003. Each year, on that day, I add another leaf. The goal is to remember to keep going so that the tree will be as fully bloomed as possible.
Inked: Why do you think Love Brigade consumers get the logo tattooed?
Alyssa: We have a mission and culture that is easy to love. The brand represents love, music, and fashion. My concepts for our collections and all things we touch reach many supporters, and they feel confident enough in the brand’s decisions to make it a permanent part of their own representation.
Inked: Do you have any Love Brigade tattoos?
Alyssa: Two years ago, alongside my old business partner/best friend/lover Christopher “Tinypants” Dang, we both got “We are One” tattoos, which is the slogan of the company. Mine wraps itself around the roots of my tree, symbolizing that it is the foundation of all that I grow.
Inked: Can you tell us about the logo?
Alyssa: The logo was created to be a visual and literal representation of the name. The heart representing “love” is joined by two chevrons representing “brigade.” I desired something that said the name without having to spell it out. This logo is one of our biggest assets.
Inked: How/when did you start Love Brigade?
Alyssa: I conceptualized the company and mission whilst at Fashion University in London. I wanted the name to represent a marching force of passionate people seeking to fulfill their dreams, at any cost. These people I later coined “souldiers.” After leaving London in 2005, I launched the brand here.
Inked: Which retailers carry Love Brigade?
Alyssa: Currently, our line is sold exclusively in our retail store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and online. Prior to the economy, we were selling in 20 cities in the states, 6 major stores in Japan, a few in Canada and UK, and with a few major online retailers. I pulled in the reigns on that bit once I saw what was happening to other brands. Those brands, unfortunately, are no longer around.
Inked: What are some staple pieces in your line?
Alyssa: Our denim for our men and women, it fits nearly every body. The men’s denim is called the Dangerpants [and] our women’s, the Infamous Denim. Aside from denim, our logo-branded any thing sells through very well.
Inked: What’s next?
Alyssa: Starting with Spring, we are focusing our efforts much more online. I may even be launching a motorcycle line for women. The signs keep telling me to so sometimes you have to listen!