alexander wang on the jack-of-all trades philosophy powering his brand
From designer to CEO, Alexander Wang wants to master it all.
Alexander Wang fall/winter 2015. The Here and Now Issue, No. 340, 2015.
Alexander Wang left Balenciaga in 2015, after three years in the role of creative director: he wanted a little more space to focus on growing his eponymous label. And focus he did. In June this year, Wang took over from his sister as CEO of the brand, adding more to his already-full plate (of course, he's still the creative director, too).
Last week, the designer spoke with Business of Fashion about settling into his new role, and the path he's laid out for the brand to become a truly global institution. As it turns out, the core element of his plan is exceedingly simple: talking. Wang has made conversation a core part of the business. In his own words, the Alexander Wang label has always been, internally, about "transparency" and "over-communication." Everyone should know what's going on — what's right, what's wrong. In Paris, he found the silence at Balenciaga jarring. "It was a very different way of working. Not good or bad, but just different in the sense that everything was very silent," the designer explains. "The sales team had their own conversation, the creative teams had their own conversations."
Today, Wang relies on cross-pollination between departments. "You don't have to know everything else that everyone else does, but you have to understand their intent." While his teams still work independently, Wang encourages a cursory knowledge of one-another's needs. "If you are a designer, you have to understand why the merchandisers are looking for certain things," he says. "You have to know why the press and communications teams are asking for certain things."
It's this jack-of-all trade approach Wang credits with his label's success. "Just having the creative, for me, it wasn't enough. Essentially, when you're a creative, you're a dreamer, and when you're a business person, [you're focused on] execution." That's why he's embraced both side of business with open arms. As he says, one must always remember, "A dream is only a dream until you execute it."
Text Isabelle Hellyer
Photography Daniel Jackson
Fashion Director Alastair McKimm