Trash Los Angeles
I started designing and making clothing in downtown Los Angeles as early as 2004. I also lived in downtown Los Angeles for a little over 4 years. A person can’t live or work in that part of LA and not be seriously exposed to the rising homeless population in and near Skid Row. As a local resident you experience the two sides of the coin.
First Side: Rent is pretty expensive and the last thing the majority of people want is to be approached by belligerent people at 4am demanding money.
Second Side: Keeping yourself from being desensitized by the fact that so many people find themselves living on the streets without proper shelter or fundamental resources. This makes you feel like you want to do something about it.
A high percentage of people living in Skid Row have some type of mental illness and unfortunately many are addicted to drugs. So, as motivated as one can be at just going around and helping people living on the streets it’s not always the safest thing to do. Just like any city you start to recognize and come across the same faces, so I found myself starting small.
For example I would notice this older woman sitting in a wheelchair with a really old and thin blanket so I went out and bought her a brand new thick blanket. Additionally, on my daily walks I would come across a homeless man named, Frederick, who was always pushing around a cart of recyclables he would collect to trade in for money. Frederick would never ask for change, as he was a very proud man who wanted to work for his money. I made a deal with him that every time I would see him I would run back home, grab my bag of recyclables and meet him downstairs with it. This went on for years and we became friends.
In the summer of 2015 I moved to Santa Monica and assumed I would see less people living on the streets. Well, of course nothing can ever compare to Skid Row, but I was astonished at just how many people were struggling out here as well. It actually brought to the surface an even more serious issue.
In downtown Los Angeles it was the local residents who became desensitized because they lived there for years and had to deal with a lot of the extreme situations with people living in Skid Row, but out here it was a tourist town. Santa Monica is a global destination from visitors all over the world who want to check out the Pier, Third Street Promenade and nearby Venice and Malibu.
It was the same kind of acceptance that “this is okay” and interacting with people in need was interference from what was really important…Shopping.
It’s not that anyone is necessarily bad or even wrong but the majority of people just don’t know what to do. Most people are grinding, hustling, and for the most part surviving.
What if there was a simple way to raise money to help and spread awareness?
What if a person got something really unique and in return it helped another person who truly needed help?
Inspired by the forgotten faces from the streets of Los Angeles
In addition to being a fellow “fashionista” I have always been a musician. I spent many years fronting my rock band and touring different cities including playing for the Marines, Navy and Air-force in Okinawa, Japan and Guam. Since I can remember I always had an affinity for rock and roll culture and lifestyle.
I would constantly rip off the sleeves from new shirts or slice off a few inches from the bottom of a shirt that was too long. I still have favorite band shirts that have tears and rips in them and have even shrunk through the years, yet I still wear them.
In the early 90’s the grunge clothing look was not only accepted but very trendy. Some of us never got over that look and some of us have learned how to blend the look of grungy but still look “classy”.
I started experimenting with the idea of creating seriously high quality USA made clothing (actually hand made in Los Angeles), but spending even more time and attention in trashing it up. I thought about all the fun ways I could trash up the clothing.
•Take it to the gun range.
•Soak it in bleach.
Yet, when I put it on it would feel beyond soft and it would fit and drape my body perfectly.
Trash Los Angeles was born.
Let’s be perfectly clear about the name of this brand. In no way, shape, or form is Trash Los Angeles a reference to any person. Trash is not a reference to anybody. The name is a reference for the clothing being “trashed“. I can fully appreciate that without knowing or understanding the origins or backstory of the brand that there will be people who either don’t get it or just like anything…are perfectly offended.
Being a rock and roll singer, believe me that I am okay with that. More importantly, if any type of offensiveness brings discussion or attention to the topic at hand well then that is success in the realms of spreading awareness for a huge social issue right here in our hometown.
No persons whether homeless or not will have their likeness shown without full consent. All persons are paid for their assistance. The beautiful people living on the streets that I have met and talked with through the years are anything but trash.
Look like you don’t care. Prove that you do.
-Tal Mir of Trash Los Angeles