Alexander Wang has entered his heritage brand era. The Rocco bag, first launched in 2009, is the comeback star of his latest collection. “When people started asking me for the Rocco again, I said, ‘are we really there yet? Are we back here?’” Wang recalled at a showroom visit. “I felt like it was just literally yesterday when I thought, ‘there’s too much Rocco,’ we need to purge.”
As it turns out, Wang’s Rocco revival is coming right on schedule. Fashion conscious young people move fast and having embraced the Y2K trend, they’re now turning their attention to the 2010s, as the very online among us have noticed. “They weren’t around for the first round,” Wang continued. “They’re digging deeper into the depths of the internet. I couldn’t believe it, but I was getting texts from people asking me to make it again.” Where the original gave slouchy “model off-duty” vibes, the new one’s aerodynamism is born from the high frequency printing techniques used to make it.
The early 2010s were Wang’s golden years, if that term can be used for a designer not yet 40. He had opened his first store in New York and had not yet been appointed as creative director at Balenciaga, and he was defining his design language—the deconstructed tailoring, the underwear as outerwear, and the leather and denim that gave his brand more street cred than any of his New York contemporaries.
Those who witnessed Wang’s rise might shudder at the idea that his pre-Instagram collections qualify as vintage these days, but the designer himself is cheerily forward looking. He’s fresh off a listening tour in China where he’s opened about 15 stores in the last year. It was his first time in the country since the pandemic, and the feedback he kept hearing from customers was the need for versatility.
That translated into Dickies-style chinos designed with hidden stretch waistbands so they can be worn high or low; and styling devices like boxer short tops that can be pulled on like a belt, to create the exposed underwear look without the bulk. For a bit of fun he designed a photo print of coins that appeared on an oversized shirt. Buttons on jean jackets and denim shirts also looked like honest-to-goodness nickels and dimes, though Wang clarified that they’re not actual U.S. currency.
Wang’s store expansion is continuing apace in North America. Toronto and Miami are scheduled to open before the end of the year, and Las Vegas and Vancouver are scheduled for early 2024.