Few of you know that Alexander Wang is actually a very down-to-earth, humble person who refuses to be idolized or to keep journalists at bay.
Power. Comfort. Control. Energy. Every time I think about him and his collections, these four words pop to mind. But if that doesn’t help you decipher him at all, then imagine a young man with shoulder-length hair, gentle gaze and spartan wardrobe.
You’ll never find Alexander Wang in restraints – a tailored costume, perfect styled hair or shiny Oxford shoes. That’s because his childlike demeanor comes up every time he starts sketching or talking about his designs. That spark in his eyes is really, unmistakable.
As long as he can remember, he wanted to design. At 3 years old, in San Francisco, he used paper napkins to draw shoes. One time, when he went with his mom at the salon, he stumbled upon a fashion magazine. He wasn’t satisfied with flipping page after page – he took it home and examined it until he knew it like the back of his hand. After this unexpected fashion trip, he discovered he was hopelessly in love with design.
Instead of searching a way in one of Europe’s fashion cities, he went to New York. He noticed many important designers had started their career at Parsons School of Design. He was going to be one of them.
There, at 20 years old, he launched his eponymous brand: “I wanted a challenge, I wanted to get my hands dirty”. Soon enough, it became a family business. His brother Dennis had law experience and took the CPO role while his sister-in-law, Aimie, became CEO.
Anything can happen [in fashion]. The next day, everything can change, so it really keeps you on your toes. You always need to be paying attention
Years passed and Wang never looked back. He always kept in mind the main drivers of his business: passion, commitment, story, comfort, elevated life. All the deconstructed shirts, voluminous ponchos, rigid accessories but also loose, cool track pants show his desire to make the lives of the people around him more beautiful without forcing them to become style icons overnight.
If your energy were bottled, what drink would it be? I guess a Red Bull. A lot of my friends make fun of me, saying that I’m battery-powered.
If you were to ask his closest ones what’s the one thing that amazes them most at Alex, they’d definitely say… the energy. He’s never tired! He never takes a break because his passion feeds him more than anything else. Believe it or not, he’s not just the creative director of his brand; he also oversees marketing and production, convinced that “no one is going to understand his brand better than him”. And who can blame him, really?!
Despite his lanky, boyish allure, Wang is a man with clear vision, ambitious and driven: “Ralph Lauren is someone that I’ve always looked up to. That’s what I want to be able to do — have control until the very end. And at the same time, have as much passion and love and enjoy it as much, and for that to be able to be translated into the product”.
In my mind, he had just the right assets to see his dreams through. Despite his young age, no one ever questioned his talent as an exceptional designer or his leaderships skills. He won 3 CFDA awards and was a nominee on another 7 occasions. He became head designer for Balenciaga and the one and only Diane von Furstenberg mentored him.
Oh, here’s a juicy bit of fashion gossip: DVF was the first woman ever rejected by Wang 😮 How come? Well, the Lady of the American Fashion wanted him to be in charge of her company’s collections in 2004. Her offer didn’t sit well with him and he said no. Before you get on your high horse and go all “how dare he?!”, know that Wang needed to carve his own path in the fashion world. He was too young to think about a collab – he had to grow his brand first.
After his first CFDA, Anna Wintour took him under her wing. The Ice Queen quickly realized that he wasn’t just a creative man but also someone who understood the industry.
How much did that count in the end? Probably not so much as his fearless way of seeing the world: “I think everyone shares a fear of failure-that you’re only as good as your most recent collection. That’s definitely a fear, but it’s a fear that fuels me, that makes me want to work harder, that makes me take on more challenges.”
photo credits: fashionisers.com, Facebook/AlexanderWangNY, Harper’s Bazaar