SoCal threads land in N TX

After kicking off your career with attention-grabbing edginess, the trick is to pull back without losing cred, like when Bowie traded in Martian garb for smart suits, and Tim Curry traded in transvestite-scientists for the more subdued role of Tim Curry. Successfully toning down their act, Alkemy.

Launched by two design vets (Levi's, Kellwood...) in the canned-food sounding LA 'burb of El Monte, Alkemy's initial collection was a glossy-fabric, military-themed affair that pushed the outer-limits of everyman wearability; their "Evolution" mix-and-match line smoothly reins things back in, pairing muted colors with not-too-edgy tweaks on classic apparel. Many pieces are cotton blended with stretchy fabrics to enhance fit, and softened with enzymes & silicone; most come in white, gray, and black colorways, such as a double-chest-pocketed white polo (or button-up version) trimmed with light-gray on the front, collar, pockets, and inside of the abbreviated short sleeves; similar black styles w/ gray & white trim; and, boasting a white-pinstriped front placket, a hybrid Members Only jacket/cardigan -- ideal for Mr. Emilio Estevez Rogers. A few designs have bits of color, like a barely-brown, pima-cotton hoodied t-shirt and a light blue polo with double-slit chest pockets and an extended placket; graphic-accented pieces include a white tee or button-up with a slowing-to-land bird on the left breast, and a light sea green pima V-neck tee slapped with an ibex skull (tee so horny?).

Though still a fresh face even back home, the brand is gaining momentum, with an unlikely mishmash of converts including Lil Wayne, Akon, Zac Brown, and the metalcore act Atreyu -- a reminder that if you tone things down too much, you'll collapse into The Nothing.