Last night I had the great pleasure of attending an audience with Alexander Wang at Selfridges department store. Now thereâ€™s an invitation any self-confessed Wang fan could never refuse! As legendary fashion journo Colin McDowell set about throwing questions at the rising catwalk king, he opened the evening by telling Alexander heâ€™s â€˜the hottest star of the moment.â€™ Here, here!
Born in San Francisco, Alex attended boarding school and travelled Europe before realising he wanted to move to New York. Happily speaking of his family network he insisted â€˜I grew up in a very supportive environmentâ€™ and as Colin asked if Alex thought he had made any mistakes he simply chuckled â€˜Who doesnâ€™t make mistakes?â€™
At 17, he took a summer course at Central Saint Martins which focus on taking â€˜one ideaâ€™ and â€˜completely exhaust itâ€™ leading to one very frustrated young designer! â€˜I thought, I have this amazing book, now what do I do with it?â€™ Jaws dropped when we discovered he did an internship at Marc Jacobs before heâ€™d even started the fashion design course at Parsons and he continued to rave about interning. â€˜I was learning a lot more at internships than at school. For me, it was all about getting my hands dirty and watching people do what they do.â€™
He left Parsons early to set up his label and at first it was just himself, his brother and his sister-in-law dragging a suitcase around stores in LA. The first range launched in 2007 with knitwear. â€˜Itâ€™s stretchy and you donâ€™t really need to work that much on tailoring. Second season we took it to a trade show. In the first day the response was phenomenal. My sister-in-law is amazing, she grabbed the spot right at the front so everyone walked right pass us as they came in. We picked up 80 stores in the first day.â€™ From a trio to a thriving company, Alex is currently hitting the fashion big time. â€˜Now thereâ€™s about 40 in our company, people for merchandising, shipping, the atelier, the accessories teamâ€¦â€™
Menswear followed under the already popular â€˜Tâ€™ concession. â€˜Everythingâ€™s kind of worn as a t-shirt. You wear it, you sleep in it, you wear it the next day and you put your pieces over it. Itâ€™s always important to me that the clothes we create are attainable and we work on a tighter price range.â€™ Of the creative process he raves about being inspired by the people around him. â€˜I draw. It usually starts with evolving the previous collection. Where she needs to go next. But still not dropping everything that sheâ€™s attained. My mission really was that I wanted to see the girls wearing my clothes on the street.â€™
Next, Colin asked what makes up the Alexander Wang DNA. â€˜Itâ€™s not about a certain age bracket or ethnic background, itâ€™s more a sensibility thatâ€™s allowed us to sell all around the world, the middle east, Europe, Asia. Japan is our biggest international market and London is number two. Itâ€™s a sensibility thatâ€™s definitely found in New York. New Yorkers are just a little more urgentâ€¦ Clothes you just throw on, and layer upâ€™.
Itâ€™s a well known fact that model Erin Wasson is his go-to girl but Alex insists their relationship is more a friendship than anything else. â€˜Erinâ€™s more of a friend than a muse â€“ the term muse is outdated in a way, I never really use that word. The people that inspire me are the people I have a personal relationship with, I really understand the ins and outs of their lives. To say one other person would be so hard for me, itâ€™s really my friends and people I have close relationships with.â€™
Finally, he raves about London. Double whoop for us! Comparing London and New York he says â€˜thereâ€™s definitely a lot more shopping in London. Me and my friend were driving around the other day and thereâ€™s so many shops and so many different parts of town. I donâ€™t think that the way New Yorkers dress is dramatically different to London. At the moment in New York itâ€™s very much about that urban uniform; the leather jacket, the jeans, the booties, itâ€™s kind of a shared aesthetic. In London itâ€™s a little more adventurous, people go all out. Girls here are very individual, itâ€™s such a London thing, theyâ€™re maybe a bit more rebellious than New York girls. Thereâ€™s a fearlessness, they experiment with hats or jewellery. Itâ€™s very inspiring that people can just leave the house like that. If you think of all the greatest stylists, theyâ€™re all from London, Katie Grand… Or even the New York based ones like Anna Wintour.â€™
So, dear Alex, would you ever bring your base for design work into London? â€˜I absolutely love it here but for the moment Iâ€™m very much based in New York, it inspires me but Iâ€™d never say never!â€™
Here’s to hoping!
A big thank you to Lucy at Selfridges.