The recent rise of streetwear has been attributed to so many designers, but in reality, only a handful of people can claim to be pioneers of this trend. In Paris, there’s Kenzo, in Milan, there’s Moncler, and in New York, there’s Alexander Wang. The bombastic Taiwanese-American fashion designer came unto the scene in the late 2000’s, with his cool and urban take on many classic fashion staples. He deconstructed garments and styled them to make for interesting looks, a lot of which have garnered the label a cult following. While he has faced many criticisms, Wang is notable for going about the industry with his sunny smile and “I don’t give a f***” approach to fashion.
Who is Alexander Wang
Born on May 17, 1984, in San Francisco, California, he formed a passion for fashion early on in his life. While he was still a teenager, Wang attended summer courses in the prestigious Central Saint Martins, where he first learned how to make clothes. He debuted his first-ever designs during his brother’s wedding when he was only 15 years old. At age 18, he attended the Parsons School of Design in New York, where he further learned more about fashion design. During this time, he interned for a number of fashion brands and publications, such as designers Marc Jacobs and Derek Lam, as well as magazines Vogue and Teen Vogue.
Alexander Wang debuted its first official collection in 2007, an array of tailored leather pieces, oversized sports-inspired jerseys, and cozy knitwear. It received commendable success, and various top models started wearing the label, earning the title of M.O.D. (Model Off Duty) which is often used to describe Wang’s aesthetic. The eventual release of an accessories line in 2008 won Wang the Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund award, and a grant of $20,000, which he used to further establish his brand. A year later in 2009, T by Alexander Wang was opened, a secondary line of t-shirts and tank tops for both men and women.
Wang’s own aesthetic is a unique juxtaposition of two very different fashion disciplines under one label. On one hand, there’s the oversized athleisure, characterized by jersey t-shirts, sneakers, and deconstructed garments, as if the wearer had just played an aggressive sport. On the other, there’s the strict tailoring, featuring razor-sharp cuts and often style in a goth and dark spirit. At times, these two qualities will get interspersed with each other in his latest collection, while at some occasions, you only get the sportswear or the gothic tailoring.
The Designer Brand
Because of the label’s cool aesthetic, there has been a number of celebrities seen wearing the brand. Countless models have often worn Wang on the street, especially off-duty which paved the way for the M.O.D. monicker. Supermodels Gisele Bündchen and Karolina Kurkova even returned on the runway after many years to walk for the brand’s Fall 2012 show during New York Fashion Week. Pop stars like Rihanna and Miley Cyrus, as well as actresses Lindsay Lohan and Kerry Washington, have all been spotted wearing his designs, either on the street or even at a red carpet event.
The diffusion line of the brand, T by Alexander Wang, usually features minimalist designs and are a lot simpler than what is offered in the main line. The label’s white t-shirts and tank tops are said to be the best of its kind, usually made with expert cutting and fine cotton material. The brand has since become a favorite among sportswear enthusiasts. The height of Wang’s athletic look came when he collaborated with H&M for their annual designer capsule collections in 2013. As characterized by the very sport-enthused ad campaigns, the collection featured neoprene pieces and resembled hockey, football, basketball, and boxing gear.
Reaching New Heights
That same year, Wang was also appointed as Balenciaga’s new creative director, becoming the first American and Asian to hold the helm. Because of his work in the Parisian house, his clothes for his own line became a lot more refined and sophisticated, but still with either a twist of either gothic or athleticism of which he is known for. However, his tenure in Balenciaga didn’t last very long, leaving the post in 2016 to focus on his own fashion house.
From 2016 onwards, the brand has returned to its full-fledged streetwear aesthetic, producing deconstructed pieces and sharp tailoring again. The brand has recently released a new denim line, which current offers ripped jeans, deconstructed dresses, and oversized jackets. The brand has also collaborated with Adidas to create “Adidas Originals by AW”, a line of jackets, shorts, jogging pants, and other sports gear designed exclusively by Wang. They’re a lot more stylized than one would expect from Adidas, but can still be worn when playing sports or simply exercising. The line is available in both Adidas’ and the label’s e-commerce websites.
With more than a decade in the business, Alexander Wang has stood the test of time as one of the pioneers of athleisure streetwear. Even to this day, the brand still continues to push the envelope in combining both the comforts of sportswear, the sleekness of tailoring, and the coolness of leisure.