SHANGHAI – There’s no denying the underlying buzz in the room. Even without words, it was obvious that everyone was excited to meet Alexander Wang. The American designer had flown into Shanghai for a launch party for the Alexander Wang X H&M. With so much hype surrounding the collection and the massive she-bang that went down in New York two weeks earlier, the collaboration was the talk of the international fashion industry.
Alexander Wang runs down the runway at the New York launch party. Credit: H&M
Alexander Wang appeared exactly how the media portrays him – long hair and dressed in all black. He was calm and collected. Even though he had probably discussed the collaboration with the high street brand to death, Wang was still happy to talk about what was H&M’s tenth year anniversary designer collaboration. In this 10 years, fashion houses like Versace, Maison Martin Margiela and Lanvin have joined forces with H&M and the Alexander Wang one is just, if not more, anticipated as the ones that came before.
A collection that’s completely new
“For me, I’ve always wanted to do an activewear and performance collection. I never had the opportunity in my own line to do a capsule collection that embodies this kind of functionality. When H&M approached, I felt that this was the perfect time to do something that one, has never been done with H&M; two, has never been done with me and three, it’s a completely new take – the perfect way to launch a collaboration,” said Wang about the basis of the collaboration.
This partnership was a perfect match, as Wang explained, “H&M is very democratic, unpretentious and approachable and (the brand) caters to a lot of different audiences. For me, I think I share those values. I feel that fashion should be approachable and unpretentious. There’s an ease to these items – it’s not discriminatory, whether you shop luxury or mass, anyone who is active, who goes to the gym, who sweats, or is into fitness can appreciate these pieces.”
Alexander Wang hangs out with Missy Elliot at the New York launch party. Credit: H&M
Activewear is the most advanced form of fashion
Wang has always been a fan of performance wear and it’s evident when he spoke about the different fabrics and technology. He said, “I’ve always had an admiration (and am) deeply inspired by this genre of clothing because I’ve always felt that it was the most advance in terms of fabric and make. When it comes to fashion, I think activewear really lives on its own. There’s a lot that has to go into it, in terms of development. When you say something is waterproof, or lasts through this many washes, it has to perform. We spent a lot of time developing materials and testing the finishes. That was a different process to how I’m used to working.”
He then elaborated on how certain factories in Italy could produce materials like foam-injected knit but because H&M produced larger quantities, these elevated pieces ended up at a very accessible price point.
Looks from the Alexander Wang x H&M collection. Credit: H&M
The new uniform: Sports at night
“I didn’t want this to be a collaboration that was just redoing things I’ve done before. I wanted this to be a collection that would excite my customer as well as the H&M customer and maybe a new customer, so it was important 90 percent of the pieces were developed brand new. There wasn’t anything that exists in the collection that I have right now that competes,” explained Wang about his ambitious vision of the collaboration.
He did confess that he wasn’t one to go to the gym that often but he lived in gym clothes like T-shirts and sweats, “It’s just a part of my lifestyle. In New York, these days, health is such a big component to lifestyle these days and when I look out on the streets, running leggings, sports bras are the new uniform. That’s how people are going to the gym, they go to lunch, sometimes, they go out at night and wear a cropped sports bra and it’s just because the new standard. We try to find the right balance of something that feels elevated but is still multifunctional.”