Like the art form of mending, Little Cliff was born out of necessity. I was laid off from my fashion design job in St. Louis due to the pandemic in March 2020. As a creative, my response to change is to make, and I began making masks for friends, family, and medical workers. For the first few months of the pandemic, I made and delivered over 450 masks, and found joy in using my skills to help others. Nearly all of the masks were made of donated materials and I loved the challenge of creating with limited resources. I began collecting scraps that were too small for masks, piecing them into mini-quilts, and patching them onto worn clothes.
At the same time, I confronted my own relationship with the fashion industry. I had witnessed the revelation of on-demand production and the increased popularity of environmentally friendly fashion, but even conscious brands and manufacturers contributed to fashion’s incredible waste, and minor strides toward sustainability were glorified (don’t even get me started on greenwashing!) But I knew the scale of the industry, and I knew the cost of creating meaningful change. It was a pandemic, and I was getting by on unemployment. I felt powerless to confront the entire industry, but I had clothes to mend, and that was a start.
I decided to name my project Little Cliff for my two grandmothers, Louise “Jaja” Giger and Fae “Kiki” Cliff. Jaja was a seamstress and fashion designer from Switzerland who gave me the nickname "Cliffli," Swiss for Little Cliff. She taught me how to sew and crochet, to live slowly and sustainably, and to appreciate found objects. My Grandmother on my mom’s side, Kiki, was a French-Cajun spitfire from Louisiana who taught me a different set of skills: to love fiercely, to honor family and heritage, and to question authority. This brand is all that I learned from them.
Alexis Giger, Founder, Designer, Mender