Xen Industries: Turning an Artist's Vision into a Fashion Statement
According to Alex Vargas, entrepreneur and owner of Southern California-based Xen Industries and Artist vs Art, apparel is the ultimate blank canvas. Together, his companies offer the design, consultation, printing, and finishing services needed to help artists and designers take their creative vision straight to the runway.
Equipped with Mimaki dye-sublimation printers, cut-and-sew capabilities, and an eye for what today’s fashionista must have, Vargas and his team design and produce textiles and apparel items for the modern consumer, from swimwear and performance wear, to gowns and home décor. His works have been featured in runway shows from New York, to Miami and Los Angeles, and he counts among his clients luxury brands such as Cult Gaia and Fernando Alberto Atelier, and renowned contemporary artists like Glenn Arthur, Rik Lee, and Jasmine Becket-Griffith.
“These artists have an established influence in the field of art,” says Vargas. “They have a following on Instagram and sell their own products. A lot of them come to us because they would like to start an apparel line or do something with printing for their fans and followers that involves sublimation.”
What their fans and followers want from them are items they can wear and display that are bold, edgy, and reflective of modern culture.
“For example, an artist may want us to make a blanket out of one of the girls he has drawn,” he says. “I will take the original design, cut out the art into different pieces to make a pattern, and work with the artist to fi t the artwork to the blanket’s dimensions.”
For Cult Gaia, Xen Industries sublimates fabric for high-end swimwear and dresses. Fernando Alberto Atelier collaborates with both of Vargas’ companies to print the fabric for the brand’s line of modern swimwear and flowy gowns. “We print on chiffon for the gowns, and everybody takes to them because of the vibrancy of the colors,” says Vargas.
Prints for these luxury brands can range from traditional Hawaiian fl orals, to 80s-style punk images. “I recently produced a punk rock design by taking an image of Marlon Brando and putting a cat head on it,” says Vargas. “Then I included some Sid Vicious images and created a repeat print for the client.”
Once a client’s design is printed onto the transfer paper, it is sublimated onto fabric using a roll-to-roll heat press. “We often transfer the images onto cut pieces, which are sublimated individually and then sewn into the final product,” says Vargas, adding that this technique allows precise alignment of designs and patterns onto an apparel item. “The value we add is that we are able to look at a design and help the artist productize it.”
He continues, “With sublimation, people love it and they hate it. Sublimation throws a lot of heat on a fabric. But there are new technologies and fabrics coming out right now that deepen the richness of the colors while holding the matte finish our clientele requires.”