There was a time, not so long ago, when fashion and politics didn’t really mix. But after the 2020 election cycle, COVID, and the social-justice reckoning, that’s no longer the case. In fact, apoliticism doesn’t even feel like an option any more. Into this charged atmosphere comes Grover Rad, a new issue-led Los Angeles–based clothing brand intent on challenging the patriarchy and championing rebellion, using the mediums of art and fashion. Founder Lizzie Grover Rad has settled on abortion as the timely theme of her debut capsule collection.
Rad comes to fashion from the worlds of tech and interior design. After cofounding two companies (Hutch and Zoom Interiors), she went into private practice, but became restless. “There’s just something about interior design that’s very safe…I love the risks that can be taken in the fashion space, and [that’s] what drew me in,” she said on a Zoom call. But fashion thrills weren’t the only thing pushing Rad in a new direction; she’s an avid collector of art and it was her interactions with artists that helped clarify her vision. “Clothing is my medium in talking about what’s happening in the world, similar to what artists do with their work,” she says.
At launch, the brand is operating more or less like a shared platform. For her first drop, Rad commissioned original work from the mother and daughter comic artists Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Sophie Crumb. “Aline is known for her dark sense of humor. I think she was a really natural fit and [her work made a] very seamless transition into clothing,” says Rad.
Artist collaborations in fashion are nothing new, but few touch on such serious subjects as unflinchingly autobiographical as the work the Crumbs created for Grover Rad. “It was an interesting and brave idea,” said Aline on a call from France. “We’re really moved by this subject and that’s why we agreed to do it…because we really wanted to say something about it.” Mother and daughter wrote about their own abortions and the vastly different experiences they had. Aline’s, which took place in New York in the pre–Roe vs. Wade days, were traumatic. In contrast, says Sophie, “I didn’t have any bad experiences here [in France], and that was important thing to say, too.”
This is the first time that mother and daughter have collaborated so extensively and both women were pleasantly surprised with the way their work was used. The comic appears as a print on a reversible opera cape (the other side is solid). Speech bubbles and cutout portraits of Sophie and Aline in conversation feature on a plaid coat. “This is uncharted territory for me, because it’s a very serious subject and the drawings are harsh,” says Kominsky-Crumb. “In no way is it cute, and in no way is it trying to be decorative; it’s the opposite, the artwork is so raw. Putting those two things together is very bizarre and it’s very daring too, and yet I have to say that in a way the clothes had a beauty to me, and I would actually wear them. I really never thought I would say that, I thought I’d just hang them up with other crazy proje