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Hanging Out With Drew Bernstein at The Original Cult HQ

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Photos by Elizabeth Daniels

The Original Cult CEO and LA native, Drew Bernstein, broke into his own fashion empire when he designed a pair of leggings with skulls on them and sold out instantly. From that pair of printed leggings Lip Service, his very first line, was born. Since then Bernstein has launched popular brand Kill City, 24 HRS and Widow under The Original Cult umbrella and brought in a slew of designers, who have just finished up Spring 2014. "Designers are non-stop living this career," Bernstein explained. "They do it all day, then get on the internet at night and research and then go to the Rose Bowl on the weekend and want to buy vintage."

Bernstein moved his growing company into the Downtown LA space in 1988 not sure if he would ever be able to fill it up. He has since expanded and his current set-up houses everything from ecommerce and wholesales to the design room, sewing department and full-on photo studio. Bernstein also added an upstairs mezzanine to the facility where the Kill City design team works close to Bernstein's office, which happens to feature a workbench complete with a rather impressive toolbox. "My office should just be a workshop," the designer turned boss-man said. "I'm kind of a do-it-yourselfer."

We headed to The Original Cult Headquarters in DTLA where design and production for all four of the lines were underway and got quite a memorable tour from Bernstein himself.

Why did you choose this area of town for your business?
"It was funny because when I moved in there was a table and some warehouse shelves and everything else was empty. I said to myself, 'I'll never fill this place up.' Now I've filled up this place, I took over the screen printer's place [next door], all my garments are in the warehouse three doors down and I have another warehouse across the parking lot."

What is a normal day at the office for you?
"I come in and go from department to department and try to avoid the departments that I don't like. I've got to check a bunch of emails and then just check in with people. I have a traditional organizational structure where I have different department heads under me and they've got people under them. Usually when I come after the weekend or after someone has been out of town, we swap stories and inspiration and try to implement some things we've looked at."

Where do you to find inspiration?
"The designers come up with the product, so I get inspired just coming here because there are all these people that go and bring back what's new and what they're inspired by. For me, I read magazines, I go out to music gigs, international travel, people on the street, that's where I get my inspiration from. When I used to design I would listen to music, drink some beers, chill out and then just push myself to come up with something different."

Break down the four different brands under The Original Cult.
"Easy. I have a friend that says, 'You make clothes for weirdos, that's what you do.' So, with all the different brands there are 'Weirdos' in the center and then there is Lip Service, that's 'Sexy Weirdos,' Kill City is 'Pretentious Weirdos,' 24 Hours is 'Trendy Weirdos' and Widow is 'Spooky Weirdos.' So that's it."

Which brand do you relate to the most?
"I relate to them all."

Do you find yourself wearing Kill City more?
"Yeah because I'm in jeans and a t-shirt everyday, that's why I wanted to start Kill City. It is really about killer jeans, leather jackets and t-shirts, the rock 'n' roll essentials. What else do you need?"
· The Original Cult [Official Site]
· A Day Trip to SAbel designer Serena Abel's Silver Lake Studio [Racked]
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· Inside Shoe Guru Jerome C. Rousseau's Hollywood Studio [Racked]