With apologies to Amazon, the real Alexa is not a tiny home robot. She’s a very human woman, height 5’8″, passport British, last name Chung. And though she, too, can curate a killer party set list, this Alexa isn’t wired for your “Play Phantogram!” commands. Instead, she’s busy powering her fashion empire, a year-old namesake brand with worldwide distribution and cry-for-it denim.
In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines (really), we met the sorceress of street style trends to discuss her first year as a business owner, and also Cole Sprouse. (What? You would, too.)
So much was about timing. One thing that was difficult for me to learn was that even though we design nine months in advance, we couldn’t get real feedback—that is, feedback from actual shoppers—until now. We were shooting blind for the first four collections—“This is cool; let’s make it!” Now we have data because we can see how people are shopping, which is really cool and also a massive help. Also, I have more of an understanding of everyone’s role in the team. When we started, I didn’t really know we’d have a fabric developer, a head of production, sales people, whatever. Obviously, my CEO [Edwin Bodson] knew exactly how to put a team together, but I was like, “Hi, I’m Alexa. What’s your job?” And I learned they’re a vital part of the process very quickly.
Have your goals as a designer or business owner changed?
No. It’s that hopefully we’re making nice, beautiful clothes that last, and that people really love, and really want in their lives.
We’re in Paris. We’re both wearing skinny jeans, Chloé boots, big sweaters—but neither of us is French. Do you think “French Girl Style” is a scam?
In that it doesn’t exist?! Yeah, totally! But then people keep asking about it, and just by asking about it and talking about it, they make it “a thing.” I did a video for Longchamp once about whether or not French Girl Style existed. They sent me in pursuit of a typical French girl and I realized very quickly that women—French women, any women—women aren’t typical at all! Cultures vary, but individuals are individuals. Maybe it’s to do with social media and a global fashion industry—there’s less opportunity for things to percolate and incubate and become pockets of trends. But to be honest, I’ll still fall for French Girl style as a concept.
But not as click bait. I’m not gonna click that story anymore. I’m like, “Yeah, cool, I get it: messy hair, a blazer, jeans, and boots. How is that different from a London girl?”
Is it different from a London girl? I mean, Jane Birkin is British!
British and French style is pretty similar. We’re basically the same, I think! Typically things are more polished in the U.S., I will say, but not in parts of New York or L.A. There’s very little difference between your classic Brooklynite and the girls in East London. It’s more like, people who are subversive and cool probably all dress the same way, because you’re all trying to kick against the same trend at the same time, which means you’re all on the same trend at the same time. It’s very confusing. You’re all chasing the same look.
Yeah, but that look is you.
No! I don’t think so…And I try not to wear what other people are wearing, but that becomes very difficult.
Does it bug you when you wear something signature—the Chloé horse suit, for instance—and two days later, three other girls are wearing it around Paris?
Not really, because I’m quite optimistic when it comes to spotting things I like. I don’t dwell on something that’s the same or whatever. I love that suit, you love that suit, we wear it totally different because we’re vastly different people, and that’s what’s cool about it. But when I look at other people’s outfits, I’m interested in something I haven’t thought of before. Like for instance, a girl walked in earlier from Japan. She had black tights on, brown socks, and brown loafers. It looked so sick. I was like, “How did I not think of this before? That girl is a fucking legend.” Socks over your tights, brown socks with matching brown shoes over the black—brilliant.
Will you be dressing Pixie Geldof and Florence Welch and all your other friends in black tights and brown socks now?
No, I don’t think I could! My friends have very strong opinions on their personal style, what they’ll wear and what they won’t. And it’s always totally different from me. We don’t compare notes much.
What about when you do a personal appearance at a store? Do your fans ask you to style them?
It’s funny! Nobody says, “I really like what you’ve got on, Alexa.” They forget, I think, that everyone likes to hear it. Even me!
Really? Oh no! Okay, “I like what you’ve got on, Alexa!”
Thanks! [Laughing.] People just forget, I think because they’ve got their phones out.
You could have a fashion version of Cole Sprouse’s Instagram page. You know about that?
Oh yeah, I love Cole Sprouse’s Camera Duels. But you know what’s funny? Yesterday I was out working on something with my friend Jim [Demuth], and he said, “Alexa, doesn’t this annoy you?” and I said “What?” And he was like, “People doing all these double-takes and turning around to see you and pulling out their phones.” And I was like, “But that’s what people are always like.” To me, it’s normal. I think people turn around to look at everyone, all the time. I either don’t notice it or I subliminally block it out, or I just presume that’s how people walk around—I don’t know! To be honest, if I do notice anyone looking at me, I think they must think I’m someone else.
Your Instagram has some pretty epic karaoke battles. Do you ever get FOMO if you’re staying in and your friends are out? What’s your advice on dealing with it?
Oh FOMO. Get rid of that. It’s about not looking at what you missed out on. Create your own reality. If you’re staying in, commit to stay in. Don’t pick up your phone. Don’t spend your night living through other people’s JPEG portals and megabyte drain holes. They’re just liar squares.
Liar Squares is a fantastic insult.
Or a band name.