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@seks_5th_avenue Abel Ljoka bootleg sustainable clothing NYC
Seks 5th Avenue's unofficial mascot Cynthia@seks_5th_avenue

NYC bootleggers Seks 5th Avenue make ‘clothes to feel c*nt in’

The label clashes the Chicago Bulls with Chanel, turns Pepsi to ‘Petty’, and plasters Cynthia from Rugrats across basically everything

From Ancuta Sarca’s slashed and spliced sneaker-heels, to the nouveau-couture collections Sports Banger launches out of his Seven Sisters studio-come-store, bootlegging is big business in fashion right now. There’s something about seeing a Nike Swoosh meet The North Face’s signature stamp, or adidas’s iconic trefoil clash with a Supreme box logo that we just can’t seem to get enough of (although the knock-off’s cultural significance runs far deeper than allure alone, as current exhibition The Real Thing seeks to explore). 

Joining the ranks of those creating covetable counterfeit clothing is recently launched label Seks 5th Avenue, which, in case you’re not au fait with legendary NYC department stores, takes its title from Saks 5th Ave – meaning even its name is essentially (you’ve got it!) a bootleg.  

The brainchild of designer Abel Ljoka, who has previously dressed the likes of Lady Gaga and Rose McGowan, the label overhauls deadstock, seconds, and pieces found “in the depths of our moms’ closets”, slicing them up and stitching them back together to create subversive (and slightly berserk) mash-up sweaters, shirts, hoodies, and harnesses.  

Currently selling through Instagram, stand-out styles include a simple grey sweatshirt across which the Nike tick, Chanel’s iconic double-Cs, and ‘FAKE’ are plastered, Chicago Bulls jerseys that have been turned into asymmetric mini-dresses complete with OTT ruffled sleeves, and tees which see the Pepsi logo transformed to read ‘Petty’ (j’need, tbh). There are also countless appearances from Seks 5th Ave’s unofficial mascot, Cynthia from Rugrats. Freed from Angelica Pickles’ bratty clutches and on her way to cult icon status, her unmistakable tufty blonde head features on tiny denim string bikinis, plaid shirts, and polo-necks.

With a message of sustainability at Seks’ heart, Ljoka hopes that the big businesses he’s ripping off will decide not to sue him, but learn from what he and others like him are doing. “We’ve had no cease and desist letters yet, but everyone loves to warn us,” he laughs. “Someone on Reddit said we were trolling hard, but the fact is we want the attention of the brands we pay tribute to because we want to make them aware of what’s possible in terms of sustainability. Instead of suing us, send us deadstock and defects from your dusty basements and we’ll turn the trash into a collection. Dapper Dan us!” 

With plans to go beyond the boundaries of the IG grid and land, at some point in the not-too-distant-future, on the runway, right now the label is content with gaining a cult following among alternative fashion fans. In fact, Seks recently caught the attention of legendary stylist Patricia Field, who now hosts the brand in her Manhattan showroom. Is Ljoka disappointed Sex & The City is over, and thus, Carrie Bradshaw herself won’t be seen repping it? “Oh no, we don’t really care about dressing celebrities or musicians,” he confirms. “We just want to make the kind of clothes that anyone, anywhere can get their life and feel extra cunt in.”