Looking ahead, what’s next for Alexander Wang?
I’m definitely interested in building more of a lifestyle brand. I’ve always remarked that Ralph Lauren is someone I feel incredibly inspired by because it’s not just clothes, shoes, bags, etc. You enter his world, and you can see it and you can feel it without even a logo. And that’s something. We can be a brand that’s known beyond a bag or a shoe or a collection. As we move forward we know, especially in the fashion industry, we are at a bit of a crossroads where we’re looking to our left and our right, and thinking, “What’s going to be the next big thing?” No one really needs anything anymore. And if you need something you go to H&M, or Zara, or Uniqlo—you know what I mean? A big chunk of this industry has been taken up by these few big players. So what you create has to be very specific and very special and very unique—whether it’s very “luxurious” quote unquote, or niche. You can’t just be a brand that services everything to everyone anymore. I think that’s really put a lot of designers and brands into this kind of holding place about where they want to go next. We still are primarily wholesale-driven, which is important in terms of positioning and having a critical mass of people being able to see and experience your clothes. Obviously, the big opportunity is digital. I feel that today there still is not a single lifestyle brand that operates like a tech company. There’s a lot of fashion brands doing technical things, but actually operating like a tech company is something very different. Having the functionality, the speed, and the service. We now have a huge opportunity to really experiment in that space.
What does it mean to be a lifestyle brand that operates like a tech company?
It’s mostly the back-end, the infrastructure, the platforming, the logistics. If you think about what Amazon is—yes, they have fashion brands that they sell—but imagine a creative director today for a brand like Amazon. What would that look like? Obviously, that’s happening right now in a lot of other spaces, like beauty. But is there a lifestyle brand that’s selling a whole range of things direct-to-consumer like that? So, that’s where my focus is.
Fashion is such a medieval industry in so many ways. Do you see pressure points in how to develop a new idea like this with the old rules?
For sure! But I try to ignore those things. I like being disruptive. I think that’s such a popular word now, but I really do. The two industries that I’m most interested in are entertainment and tech—tech obviously because of the innovation, but entertainment because that’s really what people follow. Everyone is essentially a brand today in how they communicate, interact, and engage with their audience. You think about someone like Rihanna or Kanye, they’re not just entertainers, they’re brands. These are people that have taken something that was maybe once in one genre, and then built an empire around themselves. That’s why I’m really fascinated with what the industry is doing right now.
If Amazon offered you a job as its creative director, would you take it?
Interview: Thom Bettridge
Photography: Amy Li