Los Angeles–native Westley Austin had almost given up on the fashion industry entirely when he landed upon a small pin at an estate sale with bold wording: I Was Born to Raise Hell. It was a message that resonated with him—and one that, after years of being creatively stifled while designing for big brands, inspired him to finally launch his own eponymous label, a 15-piece collection that is now sold alongside Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Y/Project at L.A.’s Shop Super Street.
“We just want to have fun and create something with a soul,” says the 31-year-old designer. That’s nowhere more apparent than in the feel-good prints that appear throughout the line. There’s the smiley face, which shows up blown out on a slinky, yellow halter top and as an appliqué on white and black T-shirts. Flames—gray, mustard, dusty beige, and tangerine—are also a key player, climbing their way up Austin’s signature raw-edge jackets. “I found it interesting to take these widely used, overexposed signs from pop culture and ask, ‘How can I distort them in a way that seems new and fresh and different than those thousands of times they’ve been used in the past?’ ” he says.
Photo: Phillip R. Lopez