exclusive: alexander wang on his hip-hop-inspired kangol collaboration
The designer explains how Slick Rick and LL Cool J influenced his new patent leather and leopard-print flat caps.
The Kangol Peebles cap is working a new look. The classic flat cap — which was originally made in tweed and named after the Scottish city where the tweed industry began — has received a makeover, courtesy of Alexander Wang. Wang has reinterpreted the Kangol Peebles twice over, creating one new version in shiny black patent leather and another in wild leopard-print nylon. "The cap is stamped with a patch of our 'Flipgirl,' an upside-down pole dancer," says Wang. "The 'Flipgirl' also appears throughout the collection, creating a flash of seduction and toying with the idea of immodesty."
The collection he's referring to is resort 17, which made for an ideal collaboration between Wang and the British hatmaker. "Our resort collection was influenced by the liberating fun and frivolity of the 1980s, hip-hop, and street culture," Wang explains. "Kangol, its heritage and what it stands for now, fit perfectly in the mix." Classic tailoring and American sport influences also define the collection, which gets a dose of sexiness through dominatrix-inspired lacing.
As a child who grew up in San Francisco during the 80s, Wang recalls seeing images of hip-hop culture that showed tracksuits, thick gold chains, adidas shell-toe sneakers, and, of course, Kangol hats. Kangol was the hat of choice for hip-hop innovators like Slick Rick, Run-D.M.C., and LL Cool J. "Rappers such as LL Cool J were a huge influence," says Wang, who affirms that he's a "huge admirer" of hip-hop. "I'm constantly influenced by its artists and its evolution and influence on the street," says the designer. "So naturally revisiting my memories of Kangol and bringing it into our vocabulary and remixing its values was a fun experience."
"I am always interested in collaborating with authentic brands and Kangol is a prime example of that," he continues. "To work with a company that has such an expansive heritage, and to subvert and tweak the design by adding our point of view, made it an appealing creative exploration." Wang — who enlisted Skrillex to provide the soundtrack for his label's fall campaign and is Apple Music's first fashion curator — says that music constantly inspires his designs. "Music, hip-hop in particular, has always been an important influence on my creative process," he explains. "It influences my designs, but it has also permeated all levels of society and all forms of culture today."
Text Ann Binlot
Images courtesy Alexander Wang