It’s a happy coincidence that the men behind L.A. based True Love and False Idols share the same name. If it weren’t for that association, one might lean towards pairing the two in something other than their actual situation as founding partners — something like a cagefight, perhaps. Alex Vaz and Alex “2tone” come from two very distinct, very separate realms: hardcore punk/metal and rap. With alternate backgrounds in areas as varied as Fashion Design and Tattoo Art, its no surprise that the boys of TLFI generally incorporate several elements into each of their unique designs. However, what is surprising is how well those elements manage to work together; a characteristic personified not only by the success of Alex and Alex as a team, but also in the hugely diverse list of personalities that TLFI can count as fans.

Yep, from TV on the Radio to Chuck Liddell , TLFI’s been doing some serious time on the backs of high-profilers. And because this “premium streetwear” thing’s been blowing up in our faces for quite awhile now, we decided it would be a good time to chat with the two Alex’s about what exactly it is that’s helped propel their barely two year old brand into to the spotlight. Read on for a exclusive peak into the pleasantly diverse — yet beautifully aligned — minds behind TLFI, streetwear’s rising star.

JoshSpear.com: True Love and False Idols is a rather ironic name for a line based in appearance-obsessed Southern California. How did this pairing of words come to be?

Alex 1: I wanted to call it True Love and Alex 2 wanted to call it False Idols, so we combined them. I wanted to call it True Love because I feel like everyone is searching for that one True Love in life and my work would be it for me so far.

Alex 2: The honest answer: Alex 1 wanted to call the line True Love, and I wanted to call it False Idols. There you go. I might be the more cynical of the pair, hence the “False Idols” half.

JS: You each come from very creatively diverse backgrounds. Film, Graf Art, Fashion Design, Tattooer Apprentice — how does this combination of skills contribute to the uniqueness of your line?

A1: With me, I bring to the table a real manufacturing background so I actually know how to make garments, like tweaking the armhole in a tee to get it to look a certain way, etc.

A2: The Graff and Tattoo educations gives me the eye for composition, color, and lettering (I hand draw all the fonts in the line). And my film education coupled with life experience, music, books, all that crap- is what gives me the perspective and sense of humor which comes out in the line.

JS: Alex (Venice Alex:), it’s interesting that you came in to fashion with a history in Graf Art. Do you try to communicate messages within TLFI’s designs like you would in a piece?

A2: Yeah, definitely. There is always some sort of message, something being said. Some of the shirts are almost a complete story (as self-aggrandizing as that sounds)… for example, the “Young Turks” shirt. It reads “INVINCIBLE – The Young Turks” – it’s framed by a pair of lions, and underneath the text reads, “Young Talented and Driven they were poised to take over the world, until a cruel twist of fate stopped them in their tracks.” It’s a little more involved than most Tees. I guess I get a little carried away, because I doubt that the average guy buying the stuff actually gives a shit, he’s just attracted to the design and text. It is different though, because when I was painting, the message was communicated with the style and colors of the lettering.

JS: This trend of “Boutique Streetwear” has been met with equal parts acceptance and disdain, i.e.; the average shopper who can throw down $200 for a hoodie, as compared to the type of person you typically see on “the street,” are often two very different people. What’s your take on the idea that glamorized streetwear is just the latest personification of Corporate America “milking the ghetto?”

A1: Corporate America is really just fulfilling a need. People are always wanting to “floss,” so a lot now have realized, ok, I’m driving a BMW, I got my Rolex with the ice on the face and the newest Air Force 1′s that you can only get in Japan… so why am I rocking some gear you can get at Sears? Basically, people want to dress the part, so now they’re taking to the gear that is sold at a higher price and usually of much better quality. A lot of it, to me, stems from the East and the way a lot of rappers are dressing out there now- which will always filter down into the streets. The only way corporate America is really milking it is if you’re buying that Corporate America version of what the real premium
streetwear brands are doing. There are tons of brands out there that are run by some big apparel company that are basically just turning a profit on a look, especially in the premium realm of things.

A2: Our line is basically a representation of where we are at with clothing design. Designwise we sat in between the premium market and the streetwear market because my design pretty much began from streetwear, being that I’ve been around it since I was 16 or so. We chose to use finer fabrics, and complicated fabrications that resulted in a higher price and attracted more boutiques and department stores than streetwear shops. It all came together that way organically. As far as the “the latest personification of Corporate America milking the ghetto;” that doesn’t apply to us in any sense. We are not corporate, we have no traditional backing, and I’ve paid my dues. We partnered with a silkscreening facility, and we basically have been making it happen with no real staff.

We are offering a better product for people that know the difference between cookie cutter bullshit and conceptual designing. I’d like to think that folks drop loot on our stuff, they are buying it because they have to have it, not because they need people to know they dropped a grip on some clothing. In truth, the reality is both of those guys are buying TLFI.

JS: It seems like you appeals to a wider variety of stereotypes than your average, new-ish clothing line. You can count indie rockers, rappers, and, um.. Chuck Liddell… as fans. Any idea what is it about TLFI that makes it so universally appealing?

A1: We aren’t trying to pigeonhole ourselves into one look. As partners we’re very different, I listen to a ton of punk, hardcore and metal and you’ll always find me at those shows, where Alex 2 is more into the rap side of things. But we do have our similarities. like we both love UFC and all that MMA stuff, another reason we just signed a license deal with Throwdown, a big fight brand. That’s a whole ‘nother topic though. I’d say everyone can look at at least one item we make and somewhat identify with it, and that’s why we have such a wide variety of people into it.

A2: I think it’s just loud, has a lot of attitude and its well executed. The fact is, we are a pair of guys who are drawing from our lives to create this line, and you can see it in the design.

JS: We’ve lately become huge fans of line-specific mixtapes… got a TLFI Fall special you’d like to share?

Neighborhood #2 (Laika) – Arcade Fire
Feenin’ – Jodeci
Karma Police – Radiohead
Chaney Can’t Quite Riff Like Helmet’s Page Hamilton – Evergreen Terrace
Lake of Fire – Nirvana
Mayday – Palehorse
Ivory Tower – Blacklisted
Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N’ Roses
Rabid As Wolves – Fight Like Hell
The Deepest Sleep – I Killed the Prom Queen
Oh Comely – Neutral Milk Hotel
Chains and Things – B.B. King & Carole King