What can’t Alexander Wang do? At the age of 31, he’s designed for the masses with a collection for H&M, he’s designed an exclusive line for Balenciaga and, of course, there’s his high-end/contemporary namesake line, which he started over a decade ago after dropping out of Parsons. Not that it has been smooth sailing the whole way; we all know about the sweatshop scandal, but overall, at least in public, the upbeat designer shows no signs of mental stress or fashion fatigue.
While he’s been the subject of countless interviews, there are still plenty of fun facts you probably didn’t know about Alexander Wang. Here’s a look at 10 of our favorites.
- Wang was born in San Francisco, moved to New York City in 2002 to attend fashion school at Parsons and launched his namesake line just two years later in 2004 at the age of 19. Since its inception, the Alexander Wang business has been a family affair; Wang’s brother is the company’s chief financial adviser and his sister-in-law is the chief principal officer. Wang held his first fashion show at their wedding when he was 15, showing 35 outfits he’d designed for his sister-in-law.
- Wang doesn’t take far-flung exotic trips to find inspiration, telling Diane von Furstenberg that his inspiration can come from anywhere. “I’m not like most designers, who have to set sail on an exotic getaway to get inspired. Most of the time, it’s on my walk to work, or sitting in the subway and seeing something random or out of context.”
- On a typical day, Wang wakes up at 7:30 a.m. “I wake up to a really annoying ring on my phone because I’m a deep sleeper. I barely have my eyes open and I’m flipping through texts and emails; people have already emailed from Paris,” he has said. Luckily, he doesn’t have a hard time getting dressed. “My closet is like a uniform—I could sleepwalk into it, and my right hand would pull out black jeans, and my left would pull out my T-shirt. I have more than 50 pairs of black jeans, and my closet is filled with black shirts: my slouchy black, my stiff black, my dressy black that I wear under a jacket, my brushed-cotton black, the more dressy cotton black, the cashmere black, the knit black that’s made to look like a T-shirt. I’ve always loved that scene in American Psycho when he opens the closet and it’s all arranged by color. And I love sneakers and sneaker culture. I have around 40 pairs and usually three of the same style. But I feel like I can’t pull off crazy sneakers, so I wear toned-down all-black ones.”
- As the designer behind both his eponymous label and Balenciaga, Wang now spends about a week a month in Paris. “It’s great, and very different to go from being an employer to an employee,” he explained. “I’ve always been very open in saying ‘I love’, I’m very attentive to the business side and I’m very aware – I treat a business as my own. And you know, being at the studio here [in Paris], understanding the needs of the company and what it’s like to be on that side has enabled me to adapt to an environment and have a different exploration of it. The studio itself and the teams were so welcoming.”
- While he may split his time between New York and Paris, when asked where he designs, he notes that it’s “everywhere, mainly on my iPhone since I’m always on the move.”
- The designer is very well-known for his after-parties during New York Fashion Week, but he’s actually said that the best parties are usually not fashion parties.
- When he was 20, he turned down a job that von Furstenberg offered him personally after she spotted one of his knits on a Vogue staffer. “I was really flattered when she called,” he explained, “but I’d dropped out of school to start this line, I’d made a commitment to my family who had supported me in it, and I wasn’t ready to give up.”
- Anna Wintour has been a longtime Wang supporter and she told him that he would never forgive himself if he turned down the opportunity to take over the creative reins at Balenciaga. “He has so much charm and enthusiasm. He’s not moody and broody and his company is very successful. He is a good guy and fashion is lucky to have him,” the editor told The New York Times.
- Wang’s mother is very superstitious. When she got pregnant at 40, she was very hesitant to move forward with the pregnancy. So, Wang says, she went to a fortuneteller. “And, I guess, the fortuneteller, you know, advised her to keep the baby and to move forward with it, and that it would be something what would – me – I would be something that would be very beneficial for her to have, you know, in the future. And she said that my brother would actually work with me one day. And, you know, I guess it turned out to be true.”
- The designer may be most associated with sportswear, but he’s far from athletic. “I always wanted to create a collection inspired by sports. I never played sports, maybe that’s why it intrigues me,” he explained. “Nowadays, technology creates such amazing fashion, the most advanced, so I always try to pay special attention to that. I live in sportswear, I wear T-shirts, sweatshirts and running shorts everyday, so to me it’s second nature.”