Stored and Adored

Dedicated to Designer and Pre-Loved Bags

Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Allure of Alexander Wang's Dressed-Up Casual

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Photo by mangostar  / CC BY

When you read about Alexander Wang online, the words you'll see everywhere are "model off-duty". This seems to have become the presiding definition of Wang's dressed-up casual style, that effortless-looking brand of chic that's both cool and somehow smart, without actually conforming to what we've come to know as "smart".

In an interview with the Guardian, Alexander Wang said the following: "The first lookbook we shot was this girl in this raw Soho loft, just hanging out, everything was like, wardrobe items reconfigured, everyday items reappropriated, because that was how I lived, how my friends lived. We were going out a lot, and sleeping wherever, and wearing clothes for days and then throwing them in the wash and things were a bit destroyed. So the way those clothes looked was very authentic to what I was doing at the time."* 

Something about this really stuck with me, maybe it's because I'm a twenty-something (not that long out of university) and at least to some extent I still live that sort of lifestyle. Reading that quote made me like the brand more, because the idea of wearable luxury - something that's actually designed to fit in and keep up with your everyday life - that's what a lot of people my age want. 

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left: photo by Lauren Beck / CC BY / edited: brighter, sharper, cropped
right: photo by Maegan Tintari / CC BY / edited: sharper, cropped

It's important to know a little bit more about Alexander Wang in order to know what you're really buying into when you buy his designer pieces. He launched his eponymous label in 2005, and his first runway collection in 2007 propelled him into the limelight with fashion heavy-weights like Anna Wintour becoming a staunch supporter of the brand. His success was quick, and his designs are now sold in over 700 stores worldwide. Not only that, but Alexander Wang was hired as creative director for Balenciaga when he was just 28 years old. He worked there for three years (2012-2015) and apparently under his leadership the brand's sales simply blew up. Alexander Wang is young for someone so immensely successful, and his time at Balenciaga proved that he can "do" high fashion. As a result, it's important to not underestimate his own brand, because behind the cool-factor there's a lot of substance. 

Alexander Wang started making designer bags in 2008, and has a couple of classic styles that are a great place to start if you're looking to buy into the brand. The Rocco is probably the most famous design, featuring a barrel shape, two top handles and a detachable shoulder strap and heavy stud detail to the bottom of the bag. It's a big, heavy, slouchy bag and it has a really grunge/rock and roll vibe. The Rockie (pictured above right, in white) is the smaller, slightly sleeker counterpart, but it generally shares the same design details. You can typically identify the majority of Alexander Wang bags from his use of metal hardware. Nearly all of his bags feature stud detailing as seen on the Rocco and Rockie, or they feature metallic corner detailing (pictured above left and below left). If you see an expensive looking handbag with either of these details, chances are you've spotted an Alexander Wang.

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Photo Geneva / CC BY / edited: sharper, brighter

 If you're interested in purchasing an Alexander Wang bag then there are a couple of things that you should know. The Rocco - one of the more popular designs - comes in a range of leathers, but the most iconic version is that made from textured lambskin. This leather is buttery soft and has a fabulous naturally occurring grain, which adds interest to an otherwise simple design. However, if you start shopping around for a pre-loved Rocco you'll begin to notice that many of the bags have similar issues with wear and tear. The soft lambskin leather doesn't stand up well to regular use and ultimately leads to exposed piping, as well as torn handles/straps - probably thanks to the extreme weight of those heavy studs on the bottom of the bag. These issues seem to be common with Alexander Wang's lambskin bags, so it might be worth considering buying one made from bovine leather. They're not quite as sumptuously soft, but they'll almost certainly hold up better to regular use. 

Other than that one piece of advice, generally I'd encourage you to let loose and get stuck into the brand's exciting catalogue. Alexander Wang's bags - especially the Rocco and Rockie - have a special place in my heart, and if I can find one in good enough pre-loved condition then I would love to take it home with me.

*Alexander Wang as quoted in the Guardian,

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