Lately, packs of 20-somethings have been prowling the Los Angeles club scene donning plush, over-sized hoods in imitation of their inner beast- a manifestation of their wild nature trapped in the confines of a city. The sudden emergence of urban animals is due in part to Alexander Mendeluk, the designer and co-owner of SpiritHoods, who works alongside teammates Ashley Haber, Marley Marotta and Chase Hamilton to create a line of animal-inspired hoods. We caught up with "Squirrely" to talk about his love for L.A., charity and how to tell if you've got a great boyfriend.
How did you come up the idea for SpiritHoods?
We all love life, adventure, music, dancing and being wild. We are all animals at the core of it all. SpiritHoods came out of love for all those things. My brothers and I are all very close, we have played with different concepts over the years with the intention of bringing fashion and that wild energy we share together. What is mind blowing is the experiences you have when you go out with your tribe in the hoods. People are either like "F**** yea you guys are amazing! Let me pet you and take a pic!" Or their like. . . "Umm . . . I don't get it. Let me try it anyway!"
This is one of those things that everyone could have just shaken their heads at, but it's just taken off. What do you attribute to Spirit Hood's success?
I really think it's about time and place. We couldn't of launched in any other city (L.A.). People are always looking for the next new thing and everyone has been all about the SpiritHood tribe movement. But also our branding is key, you have to show your product in the right light. Marley, Ashley, Chase and I started rocking the hoods together all over L.A. We have fun, we have good energy and we spread that love around when we go out. So I think our energy branded the product well, it helped people get it and want to be apart of it. We have been trying to capture that and put a fashion spin on it. Also I think a lot of people are sick of the pretentious attitudes that come with the fashion industry. So when something is creative, out of the box and carries a fun vibe, people are more inclined to embrace it. I mean who doesn't like being different and having a kick-ass time?
Everyone from Kesha to Method Man love your line, but who would you be stoked to see wear your hoods?
The Pope. Or Lady Gaga–we have some crazy designs coming out I think she would love.
What animal do you channel and who's in your tribe?
I'm a flying ninja Squirrel–"Squirrely". Chase is a compound Monkey-Lion, Marley is a Double Rainbow Wolf all the way across the sky and Ashley is a CareBear.
What animals are supported by your charity, Product Blue?
Wolf, Panda, Polar Bear and Snow Leopards
Be honest, where is the weirdest place you've worn a hood?
I've woken up naked in just my hood a few times. Where? I shouldn't say...
When you're walking around town, do you ever see the hoods?
We do, and if we don't see them we always get people saying:"SpiritHoods! I just bought one!" Then I'll say: "Well why the hell aren't you wearing it?" and they'll say "Because I've been wearing it every single day for the past two weeks and my boyfriend made me leave it home tonight." That's a bad boy friend.
Where do SpiritHoods typically present?
We see a lot of them at music festivals and out in L.A. at night. Naturally, they are more popular in Los Angeles because that's where we manufacture and roam but recently Australia has gone nuts over them–it's winter there. We want to branch out to the east coast this fall, and we have some great new boutiques like Fred Segal picking up our line.
How does someone to wear a hood. Got any styling tips for us?
Some hoods are more fun and some are sexier. I love women in the Snow Leopard, Leopard and Wolf. Leave your purse at home so it doesn't get in the way when you dance, put your cards and cash in the secret zipper pocket, put on a fitted dress (nothing too distracting as the hood does a good job on its own), show the legs with a great pair of heels. They look great with leather. I also suggest giving it a shot at the beach or the pool with a bathing suit–too sexy.
What's a good comeback for a SpiritHood wearer to use against the haters (or confused parents)?
"Ok listen. . . are you done yet? Shut up for a second and just try it on. . . . get it now? Yes I'll take your picture."
If that doesn't work just tell them "I'm supporting the rehabilitation of Snow Leopards, Wolfs, Panda and Polar Bears in a time when encrouching environmental disaster and poor human practices are threatening their habitats and lives. Do you really hate animals?"
Foam and SpiritHoods are giving you a chance to channel your inner animal during our Wolf Hood give-away! Check out the details here.