Colorado Sliv Life brand owner explains how clothing design helped him overcome addiction and cancer
Fashion is a means of self-expression, a way to display your personality through a visual medium. For many, this is the full extent of its reach. But for Colorado-based brand Sliv Life, clothing is more than just a fashion statement. It’s about growing up, overcoming challenges and telling a story that allows people to live their best lives. Here has Review 303, we caught up with founder, Cameron Connolly, to discuss his unique designs, the incredible story behind creating Sliv Life, and how he hopes to inspire people with his clothes.
The creative seed
Connolly had a relatively normal childhood. His parents divorced when he was nine and he spent the majority of his time with his father, a relationship that remains strong to this day. The two often meet to ride electric pedal mountain bikes together, something Connolly enjoys as a hobby when he needs a break from designing.
Growing up, Connolly was very athletic and played a variety of sports. A natural and very curious athlete, he tried his hand at all possible sports before finally finding motocross. He quickly developed a love for racing, which will remain so for the rest of his life. He continued to run until the age of 20, winning several state championships and entering the professional level before retiring from the sport to focus more exclusively on his clothing designs.
His athletic career did not prevent him from experimenting with fashion, however. From elementary school, Connolly cared and wanted to personalize his clothes. “I had these red high top Converse, I wore high black socks, I colored the laces and I put on laces of several colors, I was so happy. I used to draw on my t-shirts, ‘live to ride – ride to live.’ [I] dye my hair red [and] pierced my ear, ”he explained. “So, I customized my clothes and I try to stand out, to be myself, since elementary school.This unique and distinctive fashion sense continued through high school. Inspired by the color scheme and distinctive motocross style, Connolly further refined his taste for clothing. “I always matched colors and had cool LRG shirts, which led me to make my own t-shirts,” he explained.
Overcome the struggle
At 17, Connolly made this artistic impulse his first entrepreneurial adventure. With a friend of his, he launched the now defunct brand, Karismatic Clothing. While the business didn’t last long – Connolly eventually parted ways with his friend due to creative differences – it showed him that he could take his passion and artistic vision and build something. He knew he wanted to launch another brand, but the way forward would not be straightforward. Connolly faced a cancer diagnosis that would delay his next endeavor. “After leaving Karismatik at around 21, I was looking to launch my next brand. Life got in the way and delayed the start of my new clothes for a few years. I beat cancer at 25 in November 2016 and was kind of reborn. I had a new motivation for life and I wasn’t going to waste any more time.
However, beating cancer wouldn’t be the only obstacle he would face. In response to the fight against illness, Connolly turned to drugs and alcohol to escape the pain. He founded Sliv Life while still battling addiction, hoping to find a more positive channel for self-expression. “In November 2015, I beat cancer, but I still used alcohol and drugs to bury what I had just experienced. In January 2017 I started Sliv Life but decided to quit drinking alcohol because it wasn’t Slivin my life to the fullest! Still struggling with addiction, I almost stopped making clothes at the end of 2018, but I was told to go to DFW and it completely rekindled a fire under me! Soon after, I learned to sew. In January 2019, I decided again that I was not into Slivin’s life and sobered up from the drugs.
Bright clothes, bright future
Now completely understated, Connolly is dedicated to his designs – designs that draw on his motocross background and the burgeoning EDM scene in Colorado. From the moment he wakes up until the moment he closes his eyes at night, he is thinking about how to improve himself as a designer. For him, the discipline and structure involved in the creation of his unique and unique pieces have allowed him to come true and continue to move forward in a positive direction. “These difficulties have definitely impacted me as a creative,” said Connolly. “I used to spend a lot of time and negative energy on bad things, I took that same energy and made it positive and used my time creatively. I won’t forget never where I’m from and I’m grateful to be where I am today My creativity comes from everything I’ve experienced in my life.
“My designs mean everything to me. I have done over 850 things by hand. All one of one. Unique and made with love. I put all my heart into making these clothes, I stay up late, I wake up early, that’s all I can think of.
Building on this creativity, Sliv Life creates unique handmade pieces with crazy tie-dye colors. Connolly mixes psychedelic flair with punk rock influence for create a unique high-energy aesthetic. His brand focuses on unique streetwear pieces. Connolly emphasizes jeans in explosive colors with studs, spikes and chains that are sure to get noticed. “My clothes are unique and colorful, just like everyone else is unique and individual. My clothes help you stand out in a sea of people, ”he said.
More than a fashion statement
For Connolly, Sliv Life is more than an aesthetic. He hopes to use his clothes and brand to inspire people to live happier and more fulfilled lives, starting with himself and leading by example. With Sliv Life’s feature debut at upcoming Denver Fashion Week, Connolly can’t wait to expand his reach in order to get his message out. “The impact that I hope to have with my brand is to inspire and motivate people to pursue their dreams and goals,” explained Connolly. “Life is short, try to enjoy each day, through the good times and the hard times. Work hard to achieve your goals and dreams and believe in yourself.