“For me I’ve always wanted to do an active wear / performance collection and I’ve never had the opportunity in my own collection to do a capsule collection that really embodied this kind of functionality. So when approached by H&M I felt that this was the perfect time to do something that had this element applied to it because one, it had never been done with H&M before and two, it’s never been done with me and three, it was a completely new take and it was the perfect way to launch the collaboration.”
In what way does this collection capture both the spirit of your signature style and the spirit of H&M?
With H&M it’s a very democratic, unpretentious, approachable and I think it caters to a lot of different audiences; for me, I share a lot of those values in the sense that I like to have fun with fashion, I feel that fashion should be approachable, it should be unpretentious; there’s really a lot of ease to these items and the element of this being an active wear collection is not discriminatory depending on the customer. It doesn’t matter if you shop luxury or if you shop mass, I thnk anyone who Is active or goes to the gym or is into fitness can appreciate these pieces from H&M.
This is the first time you’re doing an active wear collection, How different was the process of creating this collaboration?
In active wear, the reason why I’ve always had an admiration and deeply inspired by these clothes was because I always thought it was the most advanced; in terms of the fabrics and the make. When it comes to fashion active wear really lives on its own so there’s a lot that has to go on in development; when you say something is waterproof or it needs to function and last through this many washes and has to perform, it really has to. It’s not surface, there has to be depth to it. So we spent a lot of time developing the materials and testing the finishes, a lot of the garments were welded or glued and made waterproof or seamlessly knit. So it was very advanced in terms of make. With H&M having the resources and capabilities, everything was made according to regulation.
How does this collection sit with your own collection?
I wanted this collection to excite my customer and the H&M customer. I felt that 90% of the pieces that were developed were brand new. So there isn’t really anything in the collection that I have right now and especially it being an active wear collection, someone who is my customer who buys pieces to go out, they can buy pieces from H&M to complement what they already own. So there isn’t anything that really competes in any type of way.
Was there any difficulties with handling the materials for the collection in terms of design?
There were definitely restrictions when you come to the execution of making things that need to be welded or glued, the content of the fabric is obviously very important, when you have to laser something or make sure something doesn’t melt all of that is taken into account when developing these pieces. Its definitely more rigorous process and theres a lot of due diligence. It was a really eye opening and educational for me so I really enjoyed it.
What were your favourite technical fabrics and why?
I wouldn’t say I had a favourite, I was really happy with everything that came out. What was probably most exciting for me was getting to make a lot of these pieces in Italy which is somewhere you don’t really think of when making a mass product but a lot of the knits that we did had injected foam in it, it was an injected foam process and it’s probably a process that you can only get done at that level in some of the factories I’ve worked with in Italy and with H&M and the quantities that they produce they were able to produce these highly elevated pieces at an accessible price point.
You take some inspiration from your signature collections like the cut out dress, but which is your favourite?
It’s hard to pick a favourite. When you’re designing a collection everything comes from me, it comes from what I like, it never feels compromised. The piece that I myself would probably wear the most is probably the black welded windbreaker just because a lot of the times there’s a good balance of things – we have a lot of louder things with logos and then things that are very quiet, discreet and understated and I usually like things that feel very uniform, and I see that piece as something I would get a lot of usage out of.
In the show in New York there were a lot of sports gear, but only the boxing gloves are available. Why particularly the boxing glove?
With the boxing gloves they were actually made at a boxing glove factory, so they’re made to function so we had to be selective on what we could actually make. I would have loved to make everything but we did develop a couple of pieces for the show because we wanted to excite people for the show as a special item.
If there’s one word to describe the Alexander Wang H&M collection what would it be?
Active. It’s always hard. Cos I think of the work of multi layered, so it’s very hard for me to always put one word to a collection. The fundamentals are based around it being an active wear collection.
The collection is also multi functional. How do you create a balance between sporty and glam?
I try to look at everything and design pieces that are very versatile. I use myself as an example. I’m not an athlete, I don’t go to the gym that often. I try to work out when I can. I do live in gym clothes. It’s part of my lifestyle and especially in New York in the line of walking to work, the uniform these days – health is such a big component to lifestyle these days; I think when I look out I see running leggings, sports bras, that’s the new uniform. They go to the gym then they go to lunch they go out at nice and they wear the cropped sports bra and it’s just become the new standard so we apply our aesthetic, patterns and graphics and things we like and try to find the right balance to something that feels very elevated but still multi-functional.
So the woman you mentioned – that’s the Alexander Wang x H&M woman?
Yes! Of course! Working with H&M, one of the greatest things about the approach to this collaboration is that they really let the designer go in and bring 110% of what their culture and aesthetic is and how they want to design a collection. They were really into this idea of sports at night and there’s a very urban attitude to that and that’s always been something very personal to be and it felt very natural coming into collaboration.
Where do you get your energy and inspiration from?
I guess it just comes – I try to take care of myself, I’m always travelling. One of the main things for me is that I feel very grateful and blessed to be in the position that I am doing what I love and I think it’s very rare to have that and I feel very blessed to have that opportunity. The energy comes from being excited to wake up and look at your phone , it’s a very rare thing and I guess the energy just naturally comes.
The Alexander Wang x H&M collection drops this Thursday, 6th November at H&M Avenue K and H&M Lot 10. Browse the full collection at the H&M site.