Ali Saint Q is en route to becoming the guy Dos XX should cast as the next “Most Interesting Man In The World”. His line, Norwood Chapters, is the insiders hottest ticket. The way every rappers favorite rapper is secretly Royce Da 5’9, is the way Norwood is positioned for those in the streetwear bubble.
Norwood first got noticed for using the Ikea bag in the most sartorial ways possible. Then, other big dogs jacked the concept. But the cool thing about the internet is that it comes with time stamps on posts. Anyone can say what they want, my man Ali did it first.
Ali and I spoke on the phone for damn near an hour the first time we talked. It wasn’t an interview, it was a barbershop culture talk. I grew up in the north east, and he in So Cal, but we spoke an identical language. There’s something special about 90’s kids, I feel. We got the best of every subculture and blended it in a way no one has, or can, since. And honestly, if you were born post 89, you just don’t get it.
The 90’s was an era that deserved it’s own book, truly. Often we cover the 60’s as the decade that supplied us the most content. The 90’s deserve the same. It was Biggie just as much as it was Blink 182. It was metal and boy bands. There are many chapters in the 90’s book.
My favorite chapter, I would learn, is Norwood Chapters.
Ali’s line is inspired by the street and neighborhood he grew up in in the 90’s. Every piece reminiscent of an era or character, and the blend is both urban, and alt, and it’s almost more than a line – it’s a wardrobe.
Ali Saint Q is more than Ikea bag flips and a bad ass beard. He’s a culturist. He’s a stylist. He’s a time machine captain. and his time machine can go from the past to the future, sometimes all at once. And that’s why you need to read this interview.
Ladies and germs, my homie Ali Saint Q is live and direct.
Ali Saint Q! My G! Let’s start at the beginning I guess, bro. Where does the name Norwood come from?
Norwood is the name of a street where I grew up
What part of LA is that in?
It’s actually West Covina.
Word. Can you describe your memories growing up in that area and lifestyle?
Growing up in that area was rough in the late 90s early 2000s. Gangs were very big and they were consuming the youth. The lifestyle in that area wasn’t the best. It was a underprivileged neighborhood You also had to pick your style or how you wanted to be. If you were a “skater” you listened to punk rock, metal. If you were a “baller” you would play basktball and listen to hiphop or you were just a gangster who picked on everybody. That was also because you just did what you had. If you only had a skateboard you would skate, you only had a basketball you would shoot hoops and if you had none of those you would just try to bully people cuz thats all you had. I had a unique situation because my older brothers were skaters and listed to punk rock and played in bands, so I was influenced by them and was a really good skater and loved punk rock and Nirvana, Green Day and other brands. On the other hand I was really into sports and was really good at basketball but would always get shit from people because I would ride a skateboard to the courts and always get made fun of by people playing ball. saying ” no skaters allowed” I was like man I love playing basketball while listening to Nirvana but when I would skateboard I’d listen to Puff & Mase. To me I had the best of both worlds but people in that area didn’t feel that way. Growing up in that area was what subculture is. Skating while wearing a Lakers jersey because a Lakers jersey was the only top you had, playing basketball in some Vans because Vans were the only shoes you had. We couldn’t afforded to have Vans and Nikes. We would have cornrows because we couldn’t get haircuts all the time. Its funny because the “look” everyone wants now is the look we created because we were broke and had no choice.
Every kid wants to be something. At a certain age we stop the “I’ gunna be the next Jordan” or astronaut bullshit and listen to the universe direct our internal compass, so to speak. So I guess, in short for you- Why fashion?
Well I was born in Paris, because my dad was also in the fashion business and from as far as I can remember I’d go with him to work in Paris and just be around that stuff so its something that always just been apart of me.
What’s the biggest difference between Parisian /Euro and American fashion? Ideologically/Conceptually?
Dude honestly the difference is in Paris if you’re wearing something cool people will come up to you and be like “you you’re dressed dope” “man I like your style” and here if you got the same Yeezys on as the next guy there might be a fight ha ha. Seriously. It’s a different energy in Paris and Europe.
What’s been the coolest moment for Norwood so far?
I would say working with J Balvin has been cool, you know as a designer its not always the case that a artist that you’re actually a fan of wears your stuff so thats cool. Also just seeing people at Complexcon wearing Norwood was cool as well.
So- it’s kind of “what Norwood is known for” I guess, so I have to ask. How did the IKEA thing even happen? Where did the idea spring forth from? And how rad has the reception been?
Man- I would use that blue Ikea bag for everything, carry all my samples, grocery shopping I think I’d take it to the gym too. One day we were at the factory waiting on some fabric to be dropped off and I had nothing to do so I started to take the bag apart took the handles off than started messing with the rest of the bag. We has just made some hoodies and was like man I’m make a hood out of this bag take the hood off of a hoody replace it and use the handles side taping. I did it and it came out really cool. So thats how the Ikea thing started. We did it way before Balenciaga, and Chinatown/ Pleasures as well. The reception has been great, we’ve shipped these hoodies all over the world from Egypt, Switzerland, Africa and also did Ikea popup shop at American Rag.
What’s the mission for Norwood 2018?
2018 is just to grow as a brand, a designer and create cool things that can bring people together. I’ve always wanted to create to bring people together. We’re about to drop chapter 2 and god willing it goes well. I don’t ask for anything whatever god puts in my path I try to make the best of it.