We sat down with Alife’s Rob Cristofaro to learn more about the brand’s roots, hiatus and recent resurgence.
Tell us about Alife’s origins. How did it all start?
Alife was a project that was created by myself and 3 other individuals. Arnaud Delecolle, Tony Arcabascio and Tammy Brainard were the founders of Alife. It was created to fill a void of creativity in New York at the time that we created it. It was built to share a very niche, creative lifestyle with a broader audience.
We were four individuals each with specific specialties – we formed like Voltron and made things happen. We put our lives into building what we believed in. Alife later would spawn into a clothing brand but originally it was a creative workshop. The primary motivation for starting the company was to spread our love of product, art, lifestyle and quality to whomever wanted to come for the ride.
What does the name mean?
As answered for a previous article for Highsnobiety:
“1999, Midtown-New York City, four individuals sat in the office of a fashion/trade publication where we all had worked, discussing our new venture which was to be, Alife. We discussed for days/weeks what we wanted this new endeavor to encompass and finally decided that the name should portray bringing inanimate objects to life – or [creating] hype around product that wouldn’t necessarily have hype prior to being launched into the environment that we would create. The name we came up with was “Artificial Life.”
We came across the name while looking through an old Lenny Kravitz album I believe. Anyhow, Artificial Life had proven to be too long for the various applications that we were being faced with so the name was shortened to Alife. Alife we believed, was the description of the top of the food-chain in terms of anything that it touched. Quality goods, quality projects, quality people. No bullshit, just real documentation of our surroundings in the Lower East Side of NYC at a time when there was NO venue of this nature at that exact time. Part lab, part launchpad, part workshop, part gallery, part meeting place. Top class, A-list, Alife® New York Shit 1999.”
In your own words, describe Alife’s aesthetic.
Quality goods, quality projects, quality people. No bullshit. It is a New York experience that translates into all that we do.
What about the core of the brand? Is there a particular mission or goal?
The brand focused on the lifestyle that we were active members of. A creative lifestyle/community that encompasses all elements that surround us and build our lives. Alife did things our way and if you liked it you partook in our experiences, if you didn’t, you open your own space and teach what makes you happy. I always viewed Alife as a stage. A place that anyone with something they believed in had the ability to show the world what they had. Alife was just the curator, we were not the jury of success or not. We were just a platform to introduce you or your product to the world. It was a very creative wave that we were riding in the Lower East Side of NYC.
I am a NYer and I pride myself on the knowledge and NY perspective that I practice, live and study daily. The artists that we curated were people who were experts in their perspective fields.
What has Alife contributed to global streetwear culture?
Alife launched as a creative platform that dealt in hard and soft goods, art, and retail. Alife gave birth to a new era of independent retailers which became a distribution channel that allowed lots of young brands to have a place to sell their goods.
The model was often imitated but never duplicated. Alife is a New York-centric brand with deep roots in the New York underground. We put out to the public pure New York documentation.
Why did Alife decide to go on hiatus?
Alife went quiet to clean up the interior of the company. We entered into deals with partners that we believed were of the same mindset as us. We thought the people that we were getting into business with were of the same independent mindset as us. That was a huge mistake as not even six months into our agreement our “partners” had proven to be utter and complete failures. Nothing but a bunch of lying, deceptive, money hungry, non-talented people that thought they had the know-how to market and produce Alife. They were proven failures. Anyway, fuck all of them.
So the hiatus was Alife reorganizing to the point that we are at now which is having the ability to deliver goods to market and have an engine that can bring our ideas to reality. This is a new era for Alife and the opportunity to produce like we have not been able to at any point to this degree in the past.
What was the reception like from the street culture community?
It is just beginning and it is being received well.
What can we expect from Alife in the future?
You can expect us to shake shit up as usual.