Alexander Wang’s Spring 2019 Collection 1 show was monumental for designer Wang. This is his first show since announcing his departure from New York Fashion Week. This is also his first show in which he shared his story as the child of two Chinese immigrants and his growing up as an Asian-American. His collection debuted on a rooftop at South Street Seaport. Wang built a grand stage for this collection and invited celebrities like Pusha T and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
The collection was inspired by his parents who immigrated to the U.S. 1973. Although his parents are now separated, he was able to reunite the two for a family road trip along the coast of California. During the long car rides, for the first time, he asked his parents about their experience immigrating to America.
“I was inspired by them coming here and not speaking English, going to the grocery store and not knowing how to buy food, and all the jobs they had to do to build a better life for me. And taking that story and infusing it with pop culture Americana references that I grew up with like American football, motorcycle Harley Davidson culture, and rock ’n’ roll music. And then taking Chinoiserie and my heritage and infusing it into that world. I wanted to find a new way to express inclusivity and create a new narrative of what that might look like,” Wang said backstage after the show.
Since starting his own fashion label in 2005, Wang’s father never attended any of Wang’s shows. However, this collection was especially important to Wang because, after 13 years, his father finally decided to watch. His father was dressed head to toe in his son’s clothing and at the end of the show, Wang ran over to his father in a heartwarming embrace. The family history and background behind the collection makes it intimate and the whole audience felt the love and appreciation he had for his family and upbringing.
Wang’s collection featured a mash of American football, biker fashion, 90s hip-hop and traditional Chinese clothing. Art that highlights immigration can often heavily emphasize a political statement. This collection, rather, tells his story as a story of his upbringing as an Asian American. The collection walked through his, “personal story, not only about how I got to New York but to how I got to America.”
The collection featured a football segment in which football jerseys, with Wang’s logo, of course, were layered over turtleneck sweatshirts. This look was styled with sneakers that looked suspiciously like the Nike Air Jordan 9 basketball sneakers. Models painted their face with black stripes and stars, a nod to the enthusiastic football fans who often paint their faces for games. Other looks feature the mandarin collar, motorcycle gloves, and headbands.
The collection was a gesture towards celebrating classic American culture and customs while incorporating elements of chinoiserie paying homage to his cultural heritage. Wang shared in a Vogue interview that, “I was just really inspired by the origins of where I came from and what America’s meant for me and to have it be really inclusive and it’s always been diverse, it’s always been people, there’s never been that filter or that boundary. And so, I wanted to celebrate that.”