Born 1984, San Francisco, USA. “Anyone can get all dressed-up and glamorous, but it is how people dress on their off-days that is the most intriguing.” This is the thinking behind the huge commercial success of Chinese-American designer Alexander Wang. Born and raised in San Francisco, Wang moved to New York aged 18 to study at Parsons School of Design, and interned at Marc Jacobs and Derek Lam. He stayed at Parsons only a year: focussed and determined, Wang was already creating his first collection, which he launched in 2007. The line of luxury cashmere knits sold to more than 200 stores. His second collection built on this success, managing to be both edgy and commercial. WWD wrote that his clothes have an “urban, nonchalant cool”, and the designer describes his insouciant signature look as “model off-duty”; indeed, his show stylist is model Erin Wasson. For autumn 2008 he made successful forays into both eveningwear and bags, using “stains, rips and tears on refined and expensive materials”. In spring 2009, Wang launched T by Alexander Wang, a diffusion line of wearable and affordable T-shirts, vests and dresses, all in the softest, worn-in cotton; he also began a footwear collection. Wang’s accessories, from studded leather bags to fringed boots, help to raise his profile; in 2010, women’s bags made up a third of his business. He keeps control of the business within his family, sharing partnership with his mother, brother and sister-in-law. In 2008 Wang won the Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund, an award of $200,000 to expand one’s business, and the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award; the following year he won Swarovski Womenswear Designer of Year, and the Swiss Textiles Award. Wang plans to open his first stand-alone store in New York in 2011. “Most of my inspiration is from the street,” says Wang. “It’s all those quirky people you just bump into that inspire me the most.”
Photos by Betty Sze. Alexander Wang. Backstage Spring Summer 2011.