miniswoosh turns trash into fashion and fashion into art
Designer Alex Hackett is hacking sportswear to challenge the way the industry approaches sustainability, gender and what they classify as clothes.
Alex wearing a pair of overalls she repurposed from a Nike duffle bag.
Technically, a miniswoosh is the tiny logo you see on Nike footwear products. But for Australian born, London based, menswear designer Alex Hackett, it's the persona under which she explores the functionality of sportswear. After graduating from Melbourne's RMIT university in 2014, Hackett relocated to London where she worked for a studio manager at Christopher Shannon. After three seasons she decided to branch out on her own and now freelances, focusing on playing with our preconceptions about textiles and discarded objects through her label ALCH.
Before she even graduated Hackett was drawing a fan base for her uncanny ability to see the hidden intersections between high fashion and literal trash. She crafted streetwear from Ikea bags, fast food wrappers, receipts and even retail security tags. These sweet design inversions eventually led to her consulting for Nike Women.
But the young designer's focus extends well beyond clever tricks. She's focused on the sustainable future of sportswear and how we can use it to challenge the assumed intersection between the category and masculinity.
When did you make your first sports-wear appropriation piece under the concept of miniswoosh?
I've always been creating my own sports-inspired pieces mostly for myself but I found that it was quite off-brand to post them on my main/brand account @a_l_c_h_. I'm a huge Nike fan so thought it would be a good idea to start a separate account dedicated purely to sportswear appropriation. I also wanted a more personal outlet on Instagram.
Why were you drawn to reinterpreting sportswear?
I believe sportswear is very honest — every design line, construction technique and fabrication choice has a function for the wearer. I love the functionality of it all. I've always been interested in the qualities textiles offer so it was a natural progression to start working with highly technical materials. I also think the crossover between sportswear and lifestyle wear is really interesting.
Why is it important to use materials not commonly associated with fashion?
My work is all about questioning functionality, especially with fabrications. I just think the fashion industry can often be so frigid when it comes to textile manipulation so I think it's interesting to look at alternative fabrics and re-using materials that would normally have been disposed of.
By changing the function of certain sportswear items, you offer opportunity to eradicate gendered stereotypes within the style. Why do you think it's important to do this?
Women in streetwear is something I'm super passionate about because there honestly are serious gender stereotypes in the style. It's a hugely male-dominated industry and women are not really encouraged to engage in it. For example, it's rare for a brand to release a style of trainer in a size smaller than a mens UK6/US7 that isn't a women's-specific trainer. The industry is definitely evolving, but there's still a really long way to go and it does start with brands recognising the gender disparity. I do consulting for Nike and am constantly pushing for a wider size range in models so women have access to the same product men do.
Other than consulting you were also approached by Nike as a leading artist in the Air Max community. How did this feel?
Incredibly flattering. Honestly, to be selected as a female designer to represent London (and technically Australia) for Vote Forward was a huge accomplishment. Only 12 creatives were selected worldwide. I've been doing some consulting for Nike Womens and was beginning to form a following on social media for my appropriation of Nike products and then they just asked me in for a meeting! I was hoping to work on a project of sorts with them but nothing this big!
What are your hopes for your future in the fashion industry?
This year, now that I'm working freelance, I really want to work on developing my brand and pushing a stockist list. Also want to keep pushing the influence of women in streetwear.
What is your best advice for emerging fashion creatives?
Establish your point of difference and create a brand out of it.