For Alexander Roberts, Nativ. Label is much more than just a clothing line that he founded -- it’s a movement for people seeking their own routes in life.
This movement is coming to the public in the form of a pop-up shop event scheduled from March 7 to 9 from noon to 4 p.m. and a opening reception on March 9 at 6 p.m., both at Gallery 1010 downtown on Gay Street. Roberts said that people participating in the pop-up shop events can expect a good time.
“It’s a relaxed party atmosphere. You’ve got a chill DJ, friends, fashion and food, and you can expect some legit clothing," the senior in printmaking said. "It’s something that hasn’t been seen in Knoxville before: a street wear boutique pop-up shop. It’s something that I feel has a lot to offer to the youth of UT and also the greater Knoxville area.”
The pop-up shop will be selling Nativ. Label designed graphic T-shirts, crew necks and hoodies. The first 50 people to arrive to the event will receive an original limited edition signed and numbered screen print.
"Pop-up shop" is a term used to describe a retail space that is used for a store temporarily in place. These stores are said to "pop up" one day, and then are gone shortly afterward.
Pop-up shops are not commonplace for clothing lines in the South. Roberts said his inspiration for making a pop-up shop came from visiting family in Los Angeles, which is famous for its abundance of street boutiques.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to go to L.A. almost every year growing up and just checking out all kinds of shops," Roberts said. "I’ve always been into fashion and especially graphic tees. Brands like Diamond Supply, Only NY, Huf, etc., really got me jump started with graphic design.”
Roberts believes his background in screen-printing is what separates his clothing line from all the other street wear lines.
“A lot of brands come from a skateboarding or surfing background. I’ve not seen a brand start up and become successful from a printmaking, screen-printing background," Roberts said. "I’ll always have that heavy tone of the natural aesthetic of street wear, which is screen-printing. Most of the T-shirts you or I wear are screen-printed. I know how it works, in and out. Having that knowledge and also having a fine art background, I feel I can bring something different to the table and have a different take on street wear."
Roberts doesn’t think of his brand as just clothing, but more as an art.
“I always want people to view Nativ. Label designs as something that can be on a hoodie or a T-shirt but could easily be on paper in an art gallery," he said. "It’s just as much art as it is fashion.”
Joshua Chavarría, freshman in computer engineering, feels that graphic tees are a great way to express oneself.
“They can express your likes and what you support," Chavarría said. "They often depict cultures and influential people. I think it really comes down to not necessarily a style, but your own interpretation of the design and how that makes you feel.”
Jay Jordan, freshman in mechanical engineering, said he loves wearing graphic tees.
“First off, I think graphic tees are more expensive then they should be," Jordan said. "But I’m not going to lie. I have a lot of graphic tees. My wardrobe is basically all graphic tees.”
Chavarría and Jordan have never heard of Nativ. Label, but both expressed interest in checking out the pop-up shop.
“I’d definitely buy some local stuff," Jordan said. "It gives you even more incentive to check out their site, knowing they’re from the same place you are.”
Roberts, Jordan and Chavarría are all originally from Nashville, and Roberts said that is the basis for his brand's name.
“I chose the word 'native' because everyone is a native of some place," Roberts said. "For good or bad, where you’re from, whether you believe it or not, dictates, consciously or subconsciously, who you are. It’s affected you in some way, shape or form.”
Nativ. Label’s motto, “E pluribus unum,” translates from Latin meaning “out of many, one," and is the entire motivation behind the brand.
“The way I took it is, it only takes one person out of many to start something, to create a spark," Roberts said. "It’s the snowball effect in a way. If you go against the tide, other people will see it and follow that. Jay-Z has a line, ‘I drove through the fork in the road and went straight,’ and that’s what I take with our motto. I think people often take life for granted and need to be their own person."
The Nativ. Label pop-up shop will be open from March 7 to 9 from noon to 4 p.m. The main event, the reception party, will be on Saturday, March 9 from 6 to 9 p.m. Both events will occur at Gallery 1010 on Gay Street downtown.