H&M and Alexan­der Wang are shak­ing up the col­lab game.

Alexan­der Wang flips the fash­ion-col­lab script with his ul­tra-cov­etable H&M col­lec­tion.

Elle (Canada) - - Elle - By Ali­son S. Cohn

Go to the bar and get stocked up—I want to see you with both hands full!” Alexan­der Wang yells to a crowd of 700+ fans and model besties at a Coachella event—held dur­ing a swirling dust storm in the Cal­i­for­nia desert—to fete the de­signer’s up­com­ing Alexan­der Wang x H&M col­lec­tion.

By now, Wang is ac­cus­tomed to be­ing the life of the party. In less than a decade, the New York fash­ion prodigy has built a brand with global reach: His name­sake line is car­ried in 54 coun­tries. Last year, he suc­ceeded Ni­co­las Gh­esquière as creative direc­tor for Ba­len­ci­aga. This fall, Wang be­comes the first Amer­i­can to col­lab­o­rate with H&M in the 10 years that the Swedish pow­er­house has been part­ner­ing with high-fash­ion de­sign­ers. Oh, and he’s 30.

The core of Wang’s ap­peal is that he’s cool and so are his clothes. (His post-cat­walk par­ties—themed var­i­ously as a car­ni­val, a pop-up disco in a gas sta­tion and a rave at an aban­doned mini-mall—are the hottest in­vite dur­ing New York Fash­ion Week.) If the Parisi­enne wants to be Is­abel Marant, the em­bod­i­ment of Left Bank bo­hemian chic, her New York coun­ter­part wants to be Wang’s best friend, the in­ef­fa­bly hip Man­hat­tan­ite known as the “M.O.D.” (model off duty—Wang coined the phrase) who, when not pos­ing for photo shoots, lives in the de­signer’s easy silk-jersey dresses, shrunken biker jack­ets and slouchy knits.

When it came to con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing his hotly an­tic­i­pated H&M col­lec­tion, how­ever, Wang opted not to rely on past hits. “H&M has done an in­cred­i­ble job work­ing on ar­chive col­lec­tions with lux­ury brands like Ver­sace and Mai­son Martin Margiela, but we’re a younger com­pany,” ex­plains Wang, on-set for the ELLE photo shoot, a few months af­ter that Coachella bash. “I didn’t feel like it made sense to bring things back from just a cou­ple of sea­sons ago. Some ideas are in­spired by pre­vi­ous projects, but 90 per­cent of the pieces are com­pletely new.”

So new, in fact, that the pieces fall un­der an en­tirely new prod­uct cat­e­gory in the Alexan­der Wang world: per­for­mance wear. Lo­gos—stars of Wang’s smash-hit spring/sum­mer 2014 col­lec­tion—re­turn via quickdry track shirts and per­fo­rated laser­cut shorts bonded and branded with “Alexan­der Wang” in sil­ver mesh. Com­pres­sion crop tops, tights and socks play with lo­gos of dif­fer­ent h

scales, as does a plunge sports bra made en­tirely of wide bands of elas­tic. Seam­less re­cy­cled polyamide T-shirts and tank tops are knit­ted in a pointelle pat­tern with cheeky hid­den mes­sages (e.g., “This is an Alexan­der Wang T-shirt”) that re­veal them­selves when worn.

“I’ve al­ways been kind of in­fat­u­ated with team ap­parel,” says Wang, who laugh­ingly de­scribes his own gym at­ten­dance as “spar­ing” and whose par­tic­i­pa­tion in high­school ath­let­ics at a pri­vate school in San Fran­cisco was very much from the side­lines. “Sports cul­ture is such a big part of our society, and it’s fas­ci­nat­ing to me to watch how much peo­ple are into it.”

Wang has ex­pressed this in­ter­est in sar­to­rial terms be­fore, most no­tably in his spring/sum­mer 2010 col­lec­tion, which was stocked with line­backer-shoul­der sweat­shirts, high-waisted leather shorts and lace-up san­dal boots paired with knee-high socks. For his H&M col­lec­tion, that sporty in­flu­ence is ex­plic­itly in­ter­preted in the col­lab’s straight-up ath­letic gear, in­clud­ing a yoga mat, wa­ter bot­tle, towel and swim gog­gles—the de­signer’s gift to the gym devo­tee, as is the great tech­ni­cal out­er­wear, in­clud­ing a jacquard scuba coat and a quilted-leather puffer. It al­most seems a shame to con­sign this chic gym kit to ex­er­cise, and for Wang, that’s ex­actly the point. “It’s not made specif­i­cally just to work out in,” he says. “It’s also made to, you know, go out danc­ing in! I wanted to cre­ate multi-func­tional pieces for the way women are ac­tive now. They don’t have time not to be com­fort­able or to be hand­i­capped by their wardrobe.” ■

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