Fashion is a means of self-expression, a way to display personality through a visual medium. For many that is the full extent of its reach. But for Colorado-based brand, Sliv Life, clothing is about more than just a fashion statement. It’s about growth, overcoming hardship and telling a story that empowers people to live their best lives. Here at 303 Magazine, we sat down with founder, Cameron Connolly, to discuss his unique one-of-one designs, the incredible story behind Sliv Life’s inception and how he hopes to inspire people with his clothing.
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 dad, a relationship that stands strong to this day. The two of them often meet to ride electric pedal-assisted 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 athlete and a highly curious person, he tried out for every sport he could before eventually finding motocross. He quickly developed a love for racing, one that would stick with him for the rest of his life. He continued to race until the age of 20, winning multiple state championships and breaking into the professional level before stepping back from the sport to focus more exclusively on his clothing designs.
His athletic career didn’t hold him back from experimenting with fashion though. As far back as elementary school, Connolly cared about and wanted to customize his clothes. “I had these red high top Converse, I would wear high black socks, I colored the laces and put multiple color laces in them, I was so stoked. I used to draw on my t-shirts, ‘live to ride – ride to live.’ [I] dyed my hair red [and] pierced my ear,” he explained. “So, I’ve been customizing my clothes and trying to stand out, to be myself, since elementary school.” This unique and distinctive fashion sense continued into high school. Inspired by the color pallet and distinctive style of motocross, Connolly further refined his taste in clothing. “I always matched colors and had cool LRG shirts, which led to me making my own t-shirts,” he elaborated.
At 17, Connolly took this artistic drive into his first entrepreneurial venture. Along with a friend of his, he started the now-defunct brand, Karismatic Clothing. While the venture didn’t last long – Connolly ultimately separated from his friend over creative differences – it showed him that he could take his passion and artistic vision and build something. He knew that he wanted to start another brand, but the path forward wouldn’t be a simple one. Connolly faced a cancer diagnosis that would delay his next venture. “After leaving Karismatik at age 21 or so I was looking to start my next brand. Life got in the way and delayed my starting any new clothes for a couple years. I beat cancer at age 25 in November 2016 and was reborn in a way. I had a newfound motivation for life and was not gonna waste any more time.”
However, beating cancer wouldn’t be the only hurdle he would face. In response to battling the disease, 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 was still using alcohol and drugs to bury what I had just gone through. In January 2017, I started Sliv Life but decided to stop drinking alcohol because it was not Slivin my life to the fullest! Still battling addiction, I almost stopped making clothes in late 2018, but I was told to go to DFW and it completely relit a fire under me! I shortly after learned how to sew, January 2019 again I decided I wasn’t Slivin life to the fullest and I sobered up from drugs.”
Bright Clothes, Bright Future
Now fully sober, Connolly pours himself into his designs – designs that draw on his motocross background and Colorado’s booming EDM scene. From the moment he wakes to the moment he closes his eyes at night he is thinking about how to improve as a designer. For him, the discipline and structure involved in creating his unique, one-of-a-kind pieces have allowed him to self-actualize and keeps him moving forward in a positive direction. “Those hardships definitely had some impact on shaping me as a creative,” Connolly said. “I used to put a lot of time and negative energy into the wrong things, I took the same energy and made it positive and used my time creatively. I’ll never forget where I came from and I’m grateful to be where I’m at today. My creativity comes from everything I’ve been through in my life.”
“My designs mean everything to me. I’ve made over 850 things by hand. All one of one. Unique and made with love. I pour my heart into making these clothes, I stay up late, I get up early, it’s all I think about.”
Building on this creativity, Sliv Life creates hand-made, one-of-a-kind pieces featuring crazy tie-dye colors. Connolly blends psychedelic flair with a punk rock influence to create a unique, high energy aesthetic. His brand focuses on one-of-one streetwear pieces. Connolly emphasizes explosively colored jeans with studs, spikes and chains that are sure to be noticed. “My clothes are unique and colorful just like everyone 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 about far more than an aesthetic. He hopes to use his clothing and his brand to inspire people to live happier, more fulfilled lives, starting with himself and leading by example. With Sliv Life’s debut feature in the upcoming Denver Fashion Week, Connolly is looking forward to expanding his reach in order to spread his message. “The impact I hope to make with my brand is to inspire and motivate people to go after their dreams and goals,” Connolly explained. “Life is short, try and enjoy each day, through the good and the difficult times. Work hard towards your goals and dreams and believe in yourself.”