How I Live: Illegal Civilization’s Mikey Alfred Wants To Change Your Life

The designer explains the importance of having role models and why passion matters.

There's only one pause during my phone interview with Mikey Alfred, the 20-year-old behind Illegal Civilization's clothing line and skate videos, and a longtime figure in the increasingly immersive world of Golf Media (Alfred takes our call in New Mexico, in the midst of Tyler, The Creator's tour). The pause comes after he's breathlessly rattled off his role models, his philosophies for living, the apathy he sees in contemporary culture and how that galvanizes him to consistently create with passion. Asked to sum up the aims of Mikey Alfred, the ethos of Illegal Civilization in a single sentence, he's stumped. "That's a great question," he says, "I'll have to think about it." We hang up the phone and I've forgotten all about it, but ten days after our interview I get a message that begins, "I've been thinking about that question a lot," and continues, "When you live an Illegal Civ lifestyle, it's one of self-respect, fun, and being open to the joy life can bring you. OHOO!" Seeing how he lives, it seems like a pretty great way to go.

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Influences

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MIKEY ALFRED: "Growing up in L.A. means you’re super into a million random things. All the kids at school speak Spanish and shit, especially in North Hollywood. And then through skating I’m hanging out with every crowd of people, hipster artsy type kids and kids who live in the hood. I went to private school and I feel like that’s where I started to develop a kind of preppy swag. Nobody knows this but I used to play water polo, and I'm actually going to sponsor the Junior Men's USA team for the Olympics so that's mad cool. I met Odd Future randomly, through a friend I skated with, and two days after I graduated I went on tour with Frank Ocean in Europe and Australia. I knew I wasn’t going to go to college since like 6th grade, it wasn’t even a question. When I was 15 or 16 I [suggested we make] an IC t-shirt—and mad people liked it. All these kids were like ‘That’s their team shirt’ so they wanted one. It all started from there."

Philosophy

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"When I was developing Illegal Civ I was just noticing a lot of stuff that was super popular had nothing behind it. Like someone will write a song and then you’ll watch an interview on YouTube and they’ll answer a serious question just talking about the stupidest shit. They’ll say something dumb thinking it will make them look cool. I don’t like that. I want kids to know that if someone asks them about what they do, it’s fine to take it seriously. And I think for everyone the first thing is the clothes. When a kid walks up, you’ve [already] assumed like two or three things. How someone is dressed has probably saved their life before."

Hobbies

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"I draw everyday. I have notebooks full of drawings. And I write stuff down every single night before I go to sleep. I write down one or two things I feel like I learned that day. If I walk in the street and see something random I'll write it down. I think everyone should take five minutes before they go to sleep to think about their day. I listen to a lot of different music, too, like salsa and music from in different languages. What you're listening to is how you're going to be, switching it up makes you versatile. It makes it easier to have conversations with people if you can talk about mad different types of music. It's so easy to relate to music so it's important to have a wide scope."

Role Models

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"My role models are Ralph Lauren, Martin Scorsese, and Jay Z. I admire people that have pushed their fantasy onto the world and everyone [comes to] accept it. Scorsese because he makes movies with a 100 million dollar budget and he’ll put these insane scenes in and fight with the studio to keep them in, and then when they come out they’re cult classics. He goes to battle over shit that he thinks is necessary. I admire Jay-Z for the way he gives back. He built [Barclay’s] in his own vision and created so many jobs, I just appreciate what he does for the culture. I admire how Ralph Lauren is able to kind of see the world in his head how he thinks the world should be and people accept it and live a Ralph Lauren lifestyle. I want to have that kind of influence."

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Work Vs. Play

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"My life is basically about having fun, first off. Making sure I’m doing something every day to work toward my long-term goals. Under that every day I make sure i'm swagging with the clothes. When I’m hanging out with girls I always make sure I hold the door for them, be a gentleman. Whether I’m with a girl or with my friends I always try to make sure we’re just chilling, if we’re going somewhere I make sure there will be no problems. I try to make sure that whenever I’m going out I’m fully immersed in that moment and fully enjoying it. When I’m alone I do my own thing and when I go out I’m having fun."

"So many people hit me up on instagram just saying that our shit helped them get on whatever it is that they’re doing. It’s tight. Whether it’s art shows or making videos with their friends. One kid was like, ‘I always wanted to do this and you made me realize that there’s nothing stopping me from doing it.’ Mad people hit me up, ‘I always wanted to put on an art show and I finally did it because of how you guys always say to just do shit, don’t think about it too much.’"

From The Collection:

How I Live
How I Live: Illegal Civilization’s Mikey Alfred Wants To Change Your Life