Alexander Wang staged his runway for spring 2018 on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, a very in-your-face reminder in case you forgot that his brand’s aesthetic is inspired by Downtown New York street chic.
Offerings were dark, sleek and serious, and included pieces from his ongoing collaborative efforts with Adidas Originals (including leather pants!), which we’re told will extend through 2018.
The fact that Wang would have to remind anyone of his DNA is to some degree a statement on how short people’s attention spans are these days. Started in 2007, Wang for many years held an easily dominant perch as one of the few high-end designers who embraced a street-inspired aesthetic.
Sometime, however, between the time he joined (2012) and left Balenciaga (2015), the entire fashion landscape shifted.
During that time, not only did the fresh new concept of high-end street rise to prominence (a category that fairly should include Wang but doesn’t simply by virtue of timing), but thousands of Instagram-fueled labels popped up, often run by designers whose ears were much more legitimately closer to the ground than Wang’s ever were.
It’s not all dynamics beyond anyone’s control. It’s also a little bit Wang’s fault for always holding the actual street at arm’s length. (Shout out to Princess Nokia, who’s single “Tomboy” was the theme song of Wang’s very Tomboy-ish spring ’16 runway, but who was never even invited to the show, much less the after party.)
Fast forward to present and Wang finds himself in a far nosier field, having too do a lot more just to maintain his status and keep from bleeding the newest generation of cool girls to Off White. Meanwhile on the opposite side of the spectrum, there’s the “Donald Trump of fashion,” Phillip Plein, barking at his left flank.
Hopefully this doesn’t sound too mean. Truthfully, Wang is quite awesome and far better than almost any designer. All of this is really just the reality of design life in 2017. It’s not at all nice. One great thing for Wang, unlike Marc Jacobs, at least he doesn’t have LVMH breathing down his neck.