You can instantly recognize Alix Higgins’ designs by their technicolor prints and sporadically placed text. The 28 year-old namesake designer, forever-inspired by Tumblr, has found his niche creating clothing that plays into the intersection of youth culture and the internet. Higgins’ signature aesthetic is as if your MySpace was dug up and snippets of your About Me were scanned, collaged, and printed on long reems of nylon.
Take the glitchy sunset stripe, for example, which looks as though it came out of a printer with a cartridge running low on ink and adorned with words like “Fairy,” “Baby,” and “Immortal.” Perfectly fitting amidst the resurgence of the Y2K aesthetic and no doubt why Alix Higgins’ designs have been popular among the likes of Grimes and Hunter Schafer.
Almost two years ago, during pandemic-induced lockdowns, a photo of Higgins wearing one of his own designs in his studio apartment became the first unofficial “lookbook” for the brand. The image resulted in a flurry of orders, first from friends, and then Sydney, Australia locals – giving Higgins the excuse he needed to launch his namesake brand.
Growing up in a remote coastal town in Australia, Higgins felt deprived of a creative outlet, which led him to seek that out at the most extreme level; an early obsession with fashion history from age 10 led Higgins on the pursuit of his own fashion fantasy. That pursuit took him to Paris, where he completed a Masters of Fashion at Institut Français de la Mode and worked as the Print Designer at Marine Serre during the label’s rise to popularity.
Now, back in Sydney, Higgins just released his first full collection, A Gift From The Fall, for his eponymous brand. The pieces feature a lot of text, with key words and phrases stemming from the collection’s title. The collection name refers to Higgins’ experience of finding something positive at a time of so much turbulent change. “When I was preparing some of the fabrics for the show samples, my printer asked if I was okay. He was very concerned that I was dancing on the graves of men,” he tells me, half jokingly.
For a label still in its relative infancy, there’s a sense of growth and maturity to Higgins’ collection. It’s not necessarily the introduction of understated, toned-down pieces, because acidic colors are still present, as are the skin-tight silhouettes. Instead, it’s the shift towards more classically fashionable pieces, the result of more draping and couture techniques Higgins honed at IFM that allow him to fuse the old with the new.
What had started as an exploration of color and printed text during his graduate and master’s collections evolved into a full collection. There are parallels to Marine Serre’s printed second skin pieces, though Higgins’ seem reimagined for the more fluid, expressive consumer – those that, like him, grew up trawling the internet spending hours on Tumblr feeds.
For Higgins, staging his first runway show at Australian Fashion Week last spring was a crash course in realizing a vision. Luckily, armed with a team of friends-turned-collaborators, A Gift From The Fall became a gift to us all. Marking the collection’s release, we caught up with the visionary designer to understand the allure of print, Australia’s most divisive silhouette, and the brand’s future plans.
On camouflage and polka dots
“I’ve always done the gradient sunset stripe. I try each season to challenge myself and expand the vision of my brand, to see how I can maybe do things I hate, in my own way. Last season it was camouflage, and I wanted to explore styles that were more militant. That’s where the silk camouflage came from. This season was really exciting to work on. I wanted to do polka dots, which I typically hate, but they’re really fresh, lime green. Both [the] polka dot and camouflage, they’re prints that to me felt a bit dated and daggy, but they’re also iconic and universal, so I tried reinterpreting them. In the end, I love them.”
On brand muses
“This is a tricky one. I’m always inspired by musicians and performers in particular. That frenetic on-stage energy is the immediate starting point when I think about designing. It [also] helps that a lot of my friends are quite creative in their own personal style, so they inspire me. Plus it’s a lot of what I want to wear.”
On skirts as “menswear” and speedos on the runway
“I love wearing skirts and I identify as male. For me, it’s never been a political statement. Most of my friends happen to be queer and wear whatever they want. If that happens to be a skirt from a Prada collection from 2008 with a horrible sweater, then that's it. It’s never stopped me, if something is menswear or womenswear. My brand is the same. It’s universal, because I think that’s how people dress.
In regards to Speedos on the runway, my brand is entirely, unashamedly commercial. Swim is a commercial product that sells really well for me but I also think it's the height of sexiness. So much of what I envisioned for the show was showing the body, so swimwear allows me to build a silhouette [for] the body using a speedo base.”
On fashion as a tool for self discovery and expression
“This has always been the thesis of my brand and what fashion has been for me. It’s always been about communicating my identity. I don’t quite understand the driver behind trends and why people are so interested in them. I think brand allegiance is way more interesting. I become obsessed with the designers that are communicating what I’m interested in, [and] when they’re still communicating those same ideas a season later. My brand has always been about [being] a tool for identity for people, and tools that I couldn’t find elsewhere in the market.”
“The Australian Fashion Week show was such a huge moment for me. It was my first show, and it opened a lot of doors. For now, I’m really enjoying the glow and the warmth that came from that. There’ll be another show, and I’ll release a small collection at the end of the year. I’m also working on my band, Patamon, now that I have a little time between collections. There are other things in the mix. Firming up production and codes of the brand. Exploring partnerships and hopefully a spatial offering soon. All in all, the future looks bright.”
You can shop Alix Higgins’ A Gift From The Fall collection here.