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Neurodivergent fashion designer-to-the-stars wears his Jewish identity on his sleeve

  • May 26, 2023

What was only supposed to be a side project soon took over his world.

Back in 2012, Akiva Alpert was living in Los Angeles, trying to break into the film industry. He saw that Urban Outfitters had launched a line of T-shirts emblazoned with what resembled the yellow Star of David the Nazis forced Jews to wear. Disgusted, Alpert countered with his own T-shirts featuring strong Judaic symbols and Hebrew lettering — spawning Akiva Stripe, his first of many clothing labels.

In no time, the label boasted more than 10,000 followers on a very young Instagram and his career was launched.

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Now, more than a decade later, the 34-year-old is a fashion designer whose clients include Billie Eilish and Justin Bieber. Increasingly, he’s also a contemporary artist and he just debuted his first large-scale piece in Mexico City.

And while Alpert’s aesthetic is decidedly streetwear, he says a deep-rooted sense of Judaism informs his designs. It’s a sensibility that took shape while coming of age in Albany, Georgia, as only one of 200 Jews in a city of 69,000.

“There was no one else like me there. None of my friends were Jewish and I faced overt antisemitism from teachers and friends’ parents alike. When you’re young there is nothing worse than being singled out like that. It was a very debilitating feeling,” Alpert said in a Zoom interview from his home in Los Angeles.

Yet, rather than keep him down, he said the experience helped strengthen his Jewish identity — one he describes as a little bit hardcore, a little bit metal, and a whole lot spiritual.

By the time he matriculated at Georgia State University — where he joined the historically

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