Alexander Wang on Tweeting, His Bestsellers, and the Upcoming Costume Institute Gala


>> Alexander Wang's New York flagship is just over a month old, but it sounds like there's been no shortage of shoppers passing through. Within a week of opening, he told us, some of the bags had already sold out. Late last week, the designer threw an exclusive shopping event for American Express cardholders — to encourage a few more shoppers to do some damage — and took a minute to chat with us about his upcoming trip to Coachella, whether or not we might see him Tweeting, and what he's currently excited about. Also, for those who haven't been able to make the store in person, Wang just posted a behind-the-scenes video documenting the making of the store, in which he describes his ideas and inspiration for the space.

You guys have had such good luck with awards! The Swiss Textile Award, the GQ Menswear Award a couple of months ago, and now three CFDA Award nominations . . .

I always say that I really owe it to my team and I share it with everyone that I work with, because they really are the ones that make it happen. Yeah, it’s my name on the door, but I could not have done it without my entire team.

And you just recently started a Twitter — can we expect to see you Tweeting at all?

Yes! They actually just taught me how to use it, in terms of signing up and actually posting things. Right now, it’s been a collective [effort]. We want to be very mindful in terms of what we want to put on there — making sure it’s only the best news and the things that people really, really want to pay attention to, to make it have good value. But yeah, definitely. I don’t know, I’m going on some big trips, and then maybe I'll . . . something will come up . . . whatever it may be. Maybe tonight!

Are you going on these big trips for inspiration hunting?

Yes, I’m going to Coachella . . . my yearly retreat. I’m going with friends, four of us. We’re renting a house for the first time, actually — I usually stay at a hotel. I stayed at the Ace [Hotel in Palm Springs] the first time, and that was so far [away from the festival], and then I stayed at another hotel last year. This year we were like, we’re going to rent a house so we can play music at night when we get back and not have people complaining about it, so, yeah.

Anyone you’re really looking forward to seeing at Coachella?

Yeah, Kanye’s headlining, so I’m really excited, and Lauryn Hill’s going to be there. I don’t know, I feel like I always . . . I don’t really care who’s performing, I’m always just like: for the experience, I want to go, and then when I get there I plan out my day . . . you know, see who’s going on. But just those two [alone], it's worth going for.

What has sold well in the showroom and during buyer's appointments from your Fall 2011 collection?

Oh good, we just did our merchandising meeting this week! Our handbags have really taken off as a part of our business, our footwear is actually growing tremendously as well. I’m actually learning a lot from the store [and] what’s on the floor right now: our Diego and our Rocco from our Dumbo group, which is all of our handbags with the studs on the bottom, are still our best-sellers, which has been awesome. The first week [after the store's opening], we did this really special display in the back, and within the first week they all sold out, so it’s great that there’s still life [for a design] beyond one season.

Of course, I’m a big fan of our new Prisma group, which is all the [handbags] with the metal corners. My favorite bag is the Jade clutch, just this toiletry clutch that we put metal corners on. I think for Fall, what was great is that we did a lot of things with fur, and with the higher price point, it was kind of like . . . we wanted to test the market and see how the buyers would respond. They have really . . . they’ve been great. Our bestseller from the entire ready-to-wear collection was the grey vest with the yellow zip-out windbreaker pockets and the fur collar. It was great, to see an item like that . . . I feel like it had a really strong impact in the show, so it really kind of transcended into the market week.

Have you been in the store a lot while people are shopping?

Yeah, I’ve been in here at least once a week. At least.

Do you like to interact with the customers?

Well, one day, we came in and the phone rang, so I just picked up the phone and was like, "Alexander Wang," and I helped the lady on the phone — she was looking for one of our Rocco bags. So that was kind of fun. Other than that, a couple of times I’ll be in and people will be like, "Oh, hey!" and I’ll be like, "Do you have any questions?" You know? It’s been great to have that really direct communication with the customer and really, this is the first time we’ve been one-on-one [with] what works, what doesn’t work . . . not even in the product itself, just the entire experience of shopping with us.

Are you dressing anyone for the Costume Institute Gala?

We are dressing someone, but it’s not confirmed yet who. Actually, a lot of my friends have been like, "Oh, you know, I’m taking blah blah blah, who are you going with?" And I’m like, "I don’t know yet!" It’s always a little last minute for us, and it’s great, because we really want to make it special. It’s always someone we feel like we have a special relationship with or someone who really means something to us, so . . . but no, we haven’t confirmed yet.

Is there anything else you’re really excited about right now?

Our menswear. I met with our store manager last week, and I was like, "What has been the one thing that everyone has been asking for or talking about?" And they said the men’s stuff. I was actually really surprised, because we only started men’s T about three seasons ago, and so I felt like we haven’t really . . . we’ve started to build a following, but it hasn’t been paying off as much. Women’s line has been around much longer. But it’s great that we’re going to have that audience, and it’s been perfect timing since we [just] launched our men’s ready-to-wear [with] a capsule collection for Fall [2011], and it will be fully launched for Spring [2012]. To have that audience already, we’re really honored and really excited to showcase it.

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