Alexander Wang ..21st century’s Fashion Superhero
At a mere 32-years-old, Alexander Wang may seem an unlikely candidate for a homage. On the contrary, Wang has been dubbed the “21st century’s fashion superhero” and is arguably the future of fashion.
Born in 1983 in San Fran, Wang’s Taiwanese parents had built a small plastics empire since immigrating a decade before. Wang attended Parsons School of Design in New York and interned at Marc Jacobs, but dropped out to open his own line with his family’s backing. Incredibly, a sweater he’d designed at Parsons came to the attention of Diane von Furstenburg, who tracked him down and offered him a job, only for him to decline. Wang was “flattered” but did not want to give up on his dream.
Most people would think this was a crazy move, but Wang’s self-belief was well-founded. Within two years, he had launched his own fashion label, with a focus on knitwear and basics. Then in Fall 2007, he presented a full ready-to-wear collection in New York, which was highly praised. A year later, he won the Vogue Fashion Fund, gaining $20,000 to expand his business. That year, he launched a handbag collection, and the following year, a men’s collection. Another year, another award—this time the CFDA’s Swarovski Womenswear Designer of the Year. The awards have filled his mantelpiece steadily since then.
Wang’s rapid rise to fame stems from his understanding that to succeed, he must create a lifestyle brand. Like those who inspired him, Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren, he wanted to build a world around him that reflected who he was. From his early days, his designs mirrored his own life—even his very first look book of up-cycled and well-worn clothing. And to retain his own style, he has kept the label family-run.
From the beginning, his signature has been urban design and the “off-duty model” look, often known referred to as “downtown cool”. His Fall 2008 collection was predominantly black. His Spring 2009 collection was bold—orange, aqua, and hot pink. All of his collections feature his trademark exceptional tailoring. Over the years, his designs have moved away from casual basics into collections inspired by sports. From mesh t-shirts to tracksuit bottoms, Wang blends high fashion with active wear. His signature pieces include sneakers and neoprene dresses.
Belonging to the new era, Wang’s demographic is primarily under-25s. The “new money” of the fashion world, he embraces tech and social media, launching news via midnight Instagrams. What’s more, he embraces his audience, seeing fashion as conversations rather than trends, talking to the them about life—and fashion sometimes being the upshot of that.
Wang is not only a designer in touch with his audience, but also a business-savvy entrepreneur. This incomparable designer managed to preside over three different fashion collections at once—with very different demographics: his own, Balenciaga’s, and H&M.
A mere 5 years after launching his own brand, Wang was named creative director at fashion giant Balenciaga—and actually increased their sales. His vibe was laid-back sexy lace slips, with a focus on craft and cloth. The white and ivory final collection was “a search for purity”.
At the same time, his own label was selling well in luxury department stores, with a 20% growth each year. Wang simultaneously took things a step further by collaborating in the high-street collection Wang x H&M. A staggering 70% of the collection sold out within an hour. The focus was on futuristic sportswear, scuba fabric, crop tops and tights.
Having left Balenciaga, Alexander Wang is now the CEO of his company. Since the early days, he has been renowned for his sportswear vibe, and in his Spring 2017 collection, he collaborated with sportswear giant Adidas, with future collaborations to come. The future is bright for Wang—neon even. His unique take on fashion and business signals the future for designers—a world where fashion meets media, luxury marries sports, and anything is possible.