Imagine growing up in a war-torn communist country (or three depending on the ‘where’ and ‘when’). All youâ€™ve ever known is political oppression — it is your daily life. So you make some t-shirts for you and your friends, the point being to laugh at the situation youâ€™re faced with, to bring some light into your life by making a statement and say something without outright saying it. Except you get labelled a terrorist and suddenly your only outlet for self-expression lands you in jail. Sound like a movie pitch? Think again, this is Alexander Gligorichâ€™s life. Born and raised in Serbia, Alex started printing shirts as an outlet for dealing with the repressive nature of a tumultuous government, instead it became bait for that same government. Here Alex talks about his time the jail, the brand and the growth of a carrot.
Carrot Clothing is what I live everyday; it is a need to express myself and at same time offer something different and fresh to the street wear audience.
Format: Carrot Clothingâ€™s inception is strongly rooted in social justice, is that something that you try to maintain?
Alexander Gligorich: Carrot Clothing is what I live every day; it is the need to express myself and at the same time offer something different to the street wear audience. Yes, sometimes I criticise society but thatâ€™s what social justice is about, itâ€™s people expressing their need for a better life.
Format: Did the time you spent incarcerated influence the brand? If yes, in what ways?
Alexander Gligorich: Going to prison is not a big deal over here [Serbia]; I know a lot of people whoâ€™ve landed up in jail or were beat up by the cops just because they expressed an opinion. Printing t-shirts was my way to do it. Messages like â€˜Fuck Warâ€™ and â€˜All Together Nowâ€™ were enough for the authorities to arrest me; every individual that didnâ€™t support them was marked as being terrorist. But don’t get me wrong â€“ all politics, everywhere in the world â€“ is nothing but a â€˜carrot and stickâ€™, hence the name Carrot Clothing.
Format: Tell us more about the people behind the label, the brand and how everything got started?
Alexander Gligorich: Generally a lot of creative people are involved in Carrot. After my personal battle was over I continued to make clothing. I came up with increasingly better ideas and then one night, while I was out, I realized that I could see twenty men in the same club wearing a Carrot piece. So I called up my brother, who is a photographer, he took some photos and that was that. Carrot was born!
Format: You feature interviews with photographers, designers, etc on the your official web site, is this something new?
Alexander Gligorich: Yes, itâ€™s new. I insisted on that because there are many people wearing Carrot but they don’t know who designs the clothes theyâ€™re wearing. Itâ€™s my way of giving props to all the artists we work with.
Format: Is there any specific philosophy the company adheres to and does it come through in each collection?
Alexander Gligorich: Itâ€™s hard to say exactly what our mission statement is. Carrot Clothing is what I live everyday; it is a need to express myself and at same time offer something different and fresh to the street wear audience. When I start thinking of a new collection, I never have a concrete concept and plan â€“ it’s about what inspires me in that moment.
Format: On your site you talk about how Carrot Clothing is â€˜a brand whose very essence is based upon the family-like relationships between global art, skate, and street communities.â€™ How do you incorporate these relationships into the company on a day-to-day basis?
Alexander Gligorich: As my friend Steve ‘ESPO’ Powers said: â€œthe relationship between street art and street fashion is as close as skateboard wheels are to concrete.â€
Format: Whatâ€™s your favorite piece from the Summer 2009 Collection?
Alexander Gligorich: Itâ€™s got to be the â€˜Malcolm Xâ€™ t-shirt and â€˜Fire Alley,â€™ which is a collaboration with Tod Seelie.
Format: What do you hope Carrot Clothing will bring to the people back home in Serbia? Beyond financial gain, self-empowerment must be a motivating factor.
Carrot is the only Balkan street wear brand and one of the biggest in Europe. Right now my homies don’t need to travel around the world to find a cool piece of clothing; because they have it all here, at home!
Format: Where do you see Carrot Clothing within the next five to ten years? How do you plan to stay separate from the herd?
Alexander Gligorich: I see Carrot Clothing as a Top 5 brand. Not necessarily through sales but in terms of originality. I don’t have strict plans about where I want this to go but I can promise that whatever road we do follow, we will not make any compromises.
More Info: www.carrotclothing.net