Women's History Month: Alexis Quintero's AQ Code Debuts Unique Patchwork and Reworked Pieces
For Alexis Quintero, an L.A. designer and creative, fashion isn’t strictly about just a garment or logos. The story behind a piece and how it makes you feel are more important. And it’s this same ethos that informs her work under AQ Code, the vintage shop and brand she re-launched last year.
AQ Code, formerly Fruta de Dulcé, is a curation of vintage designer apparel, footwear, and accessories, vintage home goods, and now Quintero’s own designs. It’s a representation of who she is, her taste, and many interests. “I didn’t want to be restricted in anything that I do,” she says. “I named it AQ Code because I wanted to have different codes of things. Vintage is a different code, clothing is a different code, and home goods is a different code. But ultimately, all these codes make up who I am.”
To celebrate Women’s History Month, Quintero is releasing three new AQ Code pieces as part of Complex SHOP’s Women’s History Month spotlight, highlighting women designers and women-owned brands. The lineup includes a reworked pleated bucket hat (available in two colors) made using other Issey Miyake Pleats Please items, patchwork Tabi socks, and a patchwork top, which has a thumb hole—a nod to the Tabi, one of Quintero’s favorite footwear styles. Check out the pieces below and learn more Quintero and her inspirations.
What would you say has informed your personal style and how you approach AQ Code?
I grew up with all women around me—my aunts, my mom, my sisters. We were always cooking and everything was always bright, even the table mats. When we had Mexican holidays, everything was such bright and fun colors, too. So I always think about the women in my life, traditional outfits we wear, and even the red lipstick. Bright and bold is how I would describe my style, and how I choose my items and make them flow. To me, that's how I view women. I feel like we're so strong, bold, and powerful.
Vintage is an important part of your brand and story. What I love about your approach is that it isn’t just about a logo, but more about the design and story of a piece. What do you think helped shape that POV?
Yeah, [logos] honestly don’t matter. To me, it’s more inspiring when it's like, "Oh, what is that?" It's such a cool shape, or it has really cool colors.” That’s what inspires me. I think the focus should be on the quality, craftsmanship, and unique design, which is why I love and respect certain designer brands. It’s just about picking out different things that inspire me.
AQ Code includes apparel, accessories, and home goods. What made you want to start curating home goods?
Home is a lot to me, and I think it's just how I grew up. I’m very much a homebody, even before [the pandemic] happened. I'm not okay mentally if home is not okay because I love to cook, bake, and get flowers from the market every week. It’s not just about wearing these clothes. If my top makes you feel good because you like the way it feels or you like the way it looks, you can buy this cool vase too, come home, and put your flowers in the vase and have that feeling everywhere. I never want to make people feel pressured like, “Here’s this drop. Here’s this shoe. Here’s this Prada boot.” I obviously love those things but not all of them are necessary. I know what it feels like to have anxiety from those things, or feeling like you need to have more. I want it to feel like there's meaning to what you have. For me, the things I have, they all have a story and meaning.
What inspired you to make the reworked pleated pieces?
During quarantine, I started looking at my clothes and they didn’t really inspire me so I was like, “What if I just changed it into something else?” That’s how I made the Pleats Please tablecloth. I also made a lamp shade that I haven’t shown and cup holders. I made the first hat last year and just wanted a pair of pants I didn't like to be turned into a hat then made more from other Pleats Please fabric I had for this.
You made the Reworked Pleated Bucket Hat with your aunt, right?
Yes, I would love to talk about that. She’s not a pattern maker, so I had the pattern made, but we laid down the pattern on the fabric and literally used candles to hold the paper down, like a paperweight, and then I cut around it. It's super DIY, doing it with my aunt, but she has a little sewing room in her garage. Growing up she would sew all the time, so we would go to her house, she'd be working on jobs and I would see her in her garage sewing dresses and really pretty things. That's really meaningful to me just because my aunt saw me when I started getting into clothes as a kid and now I'm making it with her.
It makes the hats more personal.
Yeah, even with the patchwork top and patchwork Tabi socks, I designed them while I was trying to think of how to go about my career and my future, making things and always having people around me that reminded me of that. My aunt reminded me to keep going, keep pushing, without knowing it. If I needed help, she’d help. That's why all of this stuff has meaning to me. Everyone around me has been an incredible part of this journey for me. I'm really nervous about putting it out, but it's also a really great moment. It’s not just the dedication and hard work that I put in, but also having the support of the women around me.
Shop the AQ Code and Women’s History Month Collection here.