Soaring from New York, my next feature takes residence down South, creating an entire brand all on his own.
Joshua McLeod, age 20, currently studies as Savannah College of Art and Design. His major, Fashion Marketing and Management with a Graphic Design minor, has allowed him to create an incredible brand, Victor + Alexander. His site, www.victoralexanderco.com, features Lifestyle choices and incredible fashion, which is available to purchase. Currently in Hong Kong to study abroad, Mr. McLeod graciously granted me time to get a glimpse into his most fashionable life.
With such a fantastic site, it seems as though his enticement for fashion must have sprouted early on in his life. “I first became interested in the fashion world in middle school. I was known as the guy with the most shoes. I loved getting dressed for school and seeing people’s reactions to my outfits. But looking back, I could not dress at all. Better believe those photos have been burned and no longer exist. My interest in fashion went away after middle school and I started to focus on film and graphic design. The interest came back during my senior year of high school. I was scrolling on Pinterest and I came across the “Men’s Fashion” sections which I never even knew existed and I just began pinning, and pinning, and pinning. A lot of the fashion I saw I couldn’t afford, so I thought I would try to make it. The first item was a bow tie. I watched YouTube videos and read blogs and I figured out how to make a bow tie. I was so into it that I bought tons of different patterned fabrics. I decided I should sell them, so I did. I was successful at it, but I wasn’t ready to commit. So I stopped with the bow ties and shifted my focus back to graphic design.”
And with a simple view of his site, we can see that the fashion aspect resurfaced. We all have experienced times of fashion uncertainties, but we soon find our way. How would Mr. McLeod describe his way, his style? “My style in terms of clothes is honestly what ever I feel like wearing. If you look at my closet you’ll see anything from very minimal black or white t-shirts and graphic tees all the way to preppy button downs and bow ties. It really just depends on how I’m feeling that day. When it comes to my design aesthetic, both in fashion and graphically, it’s very minimal and geometrically inspired. Fashion is just another way to express myself. It just goes back to how I get dressed in the morning. I think of fashion as a mood ring, some days I feel bubbly so I’ll put on a bright blue woven shirt with a polka dot bow tie and blue oxfords, other days I’ll feel like a bad a** and wear tattered black jeans, a black graphic t-shirt and a leather biker jacket.”
With the idea of style in mind, Victor + Alexander was born. What insight into his creation can Mr. McLeod present to us? “Victor + Alexander started with my idea of “If I can’t afford something, then I can figure out how to make it.” In August of 2013 I came across this menswear bag by one of my favorite designers and I thought, “I can’t really afford this bag, but I bet I can make it.” And I did. I loved the feeling of spending 4 long days making something that I wanted so badly. I decided that maybe this is what I should be doing. That October I designed and produced a collection of vegan leather bags by hand, and was amazed by the feedback. I never launched that collection however because I wanted every bag to be perfect. While working on the next collection I started blogging about my process and also began to incorporate my own personal outfits into the blog. Come January 2014 I had a small following mainly made up of my family and close friends. I decided I would start a YouTube Channel to share my idea of “If you can’t afford it, then make it” I did weekly videos on Fashion Do It Yourself projects and my following grew.
My first collection of 4 bags launched in April of 2014. Each and every bag that was ordered was (and still is) handcrafted by me. I believe that a handcrafted item reflects the creative spirit of the person who made it. It was kind of surreal when I got my first order. It’s an incredible feeling when someone pays for something you’ve made, something you worked hard to produced. That’s when I realized that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. After that collection, I launched 2 collections that Summer, one titled Sorbet + Sherbet (A collection of brightly colored bags) and the other Operation Hong Kong (A collection to raise money to help me study abroad in Hong Kong).
The name Victor + Alexander derives from my 2 grandfathers, Victor McLeod and Alexander Quilon. Victor, who lived in a small town in North Carolina, was a loving husband and a hardworking father of six. And Alexander, a fisherman from the Philippines, worked hard to keep his wife and six kids happy and satisfied. These men living across the world from one another had one thing common: dedication to their families. I wanted to honor that dedication thought the start of Victor + Alexander.”
It truly is an incredibly site, one with more to offer than just fashion. “On the Victor + Alexander you’ll find 2 parts. The Lifestyle Blog & the Online Storefront. On the blog you’ll find my outfits of the days, collaborations with other bloggers, and Do It Yourself videos. On the Online Storefront you’ll find my latest collection of handcrafted vegan leather handbags. You can also find a short documentary on Victor + Alexander under the About section.”
As for the fashion aspect, what might viewers be able to purchase from the shop? What is the full value they are buying? “Victor + Alexander offers handcrafted vegan leather handbags for both men and women. Each bag starts with an idea. That idea is then translated into sketches and designs. I then draw up a pattern and begin to build the bag using the best materials and tools. All of the bags are inspired by geometry. I love clean silhouettes and simple shapes. My favorite piece so far has to be the Nico Tote inMidnight Saffron. It was very experimental and it ended up being a really cool and architecturally inspired bag. ”
With such an impeccable idea, the sky is the limit. Where does Mr. McLeod hope to take his brand? “I have this gut feeling that 2015 is my year. It’s my year to expand beyond handbags and into smaller vegan leather goods, as well as handcrafted apparel and home decor. I want my bags to be offered in small specialty shops and boutiques around the country. I would also like to invest (and to find investors to invest) more into my brand to obtain better tools and materials to produce my bags, but I still want my bags to be handcrafted by me or by someone working for Victor + Alexander.”
And in the next 5 to 10 years, I am positive that there will be a tremendous growth in the company, one that will take him as far as he hopes to go. But that is just where I see him in the years to come, where does he want to be then? “In the next 5 to 10 years I see Victor + Alexander having it’s own brick and mortar shop in New York. I fell in love with New York as a kid when my mom and I would take the train from our home in New Jersey to the big city. New York is so diverse and everybody there has a story to tell, and I want to continue to write my story alongside those individuals. I know New York is a hard place to start a business, but I truly believe in that I can do anything if I put God first.”
Well, anything is possible with talent such as so. It was truly an honor to be presented with such an incredible site. I do hope everyone visits and has the pleasure of viewing the amazing skills, creativity, and innovation Mr. Josh McLeod has to share with the world.