Alife is hitting the reset button in its 20th year in business. Since Rob Cristofaro founded the brand in 1999, Alife has been a popular name among New York City’s skaters, ball players and the streetwear community. The brand was one of the first in that market to introduce collaborations and a footwear collection and now, Alife is ringing in 20 years with renewed energy. “We haven’t ever done an anniversary or really put much energy behind any of the anniversaries that we’ve had,” said Cristofaro. “What you’ll start seeing from the 20th anniversary onward is the culmination of consistent releases, launches, projects and executions.” The New York City-based brand last year launched collaboration footwear with Crocs and this year released a capsule collection with the Brooklyn Museum and artist Faith Ringgold. The company is relaunching footwear in October, and also this fall will offer a new collaboration with Lee Jeans, extend its partnership with Adidas, and work with the Bronx Museum of the Arts for its upcoming exhibition on photographer Henry Chalfant titled “Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987.” “People know Alife for footwear, it was one of the first things that we got into,” said Alife general manager Treis Hill. The brand’s original partner
Last year, Alife relaunched with an unexpected Crocs collaboration.
Alife approached Crocs before the footwear brand reentered the fashion conversation via a tie-in with Balenciaga on an imaginative, platform pair that retails for $ 850. But since then, newer streetwear brands including Pleasures and Chinatown Market have released their own co-branded Crocs.
“That’s the last thing we wanted to happen,” said Treis Hill, an Alife cofounder, when asked about these collaborations. “One thing that Alife consistently tries to ensure, which might be to our detriment, is that we aren’t trying to follow what people do. No one was thinking about Crocs until we did it, so for us let’s move on to something else and focus on a new message.”
That new message is Black History Month, and Alife has partnered with the Brooklyn Museum and Faith Ringgold, a Harlem-born artist whose work was featured in the “Soul of a Nation” exhibit at the museum. Ringgold is known for her quilts, but also practices painting, sculpting and performance art.
“Alife is centered around art and our objective is to push art and perpetuate that through our apparel, but this is the first time we’ve done something during Black History Month,” said Hill. “This was an
Rob Cristofaro and Treis Hill have bought back Alife and have a new investor.
Alife, which is now almost 20 years old, was originally founded as an artist collective and multibrand retail space by Cristofaro, Arnaud Delecolle, Tony Arcabascio and Tammy Brainard — Hill joined the team later. The company, which also operates Alife Rivington Club in the Lower East Side, a sneaker concept store that’s been open since 2001, and Alife, its apparel store that sits next to it, has been through a string of owners and financial partners, but it was most recently co-owned by Cristofaro, Hill and Seth Gerszberg, who is now no longer involved.
For the past couple of years, Alife — one of the original downtown streetwear brands that was founded when the term streetwear didn’t exist — has released a few things here and there, but Cristofaro and Hill have been mostly quiet and focused on cleaning up Alife’s global distribution and preparing for a true relaunch, which begins with an unlikely product collaboration with Crocs.
Alife x Crocs
Cristofaro approached Crocs before the footwear brand re-entered the fashion conversation last October via a tie-in with Balenciaga on an imaginative, platform pair that retails for $ 850. The Alife