London has a history of producing iconic fashionistas, and upcoming designer Alex Mullins is one of them. Having completed degrees at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art, he quickly rose through the ranks, working for Diane von Furstenberg, Alexander McQueen, Jeremy Scott and Kanye West in quick succession. Despite this recognition, Mullins craved success of his own, and in 2013 he started his own eponymous label, driven by his desire to reimagine the possibilities of menswear. The following year he launched his first collection, an assortment of playful variations on the modern cowboy aesthetic. More recently, his SS17 collection exhibited an interest in graphic prints and innovative fabrics, demonstrating his evolving vision. Though his durable work wear-inspired collections are sold as menswear, the London designer is pleased by the idea of women donning one of his chunky knits or structured trousers. In fact, he even admits to creating a few of his menswear pieces with women in mind. Needless to say, we at SLEEK are really excited about Mullins. We love his clothes, his relentless ambition (“Fashion can wait” he says about needing a holiday), and even his Elvis quiff. So when he told us he was available for an interview we hyperventilated, recovered, wrote down some questions, and then put them to him. And here are his answers.
London designer Alex Mullins creates menswear collections that are versatile enough for women, but don’t mistake them as unisex
What sparked your interest in fashion?
I was quite an imaginative child growing up, especially when playing with textiles. Fabric was something that I understood, that I could control and transform into anything I wanted, be it a slide, a cape or even an animal. I immediately connected with it, and inherently sensed the ability it had to enhance a person’s life.
And what drew you to men’s fashion specifically?
After my fascination with fabrics came an interest in womenswear. But in order to relate to my clothes, I have to feel what it’s like to wear them. Once I realised I’d never be able to fit into my tiny size six samples at Central Saint Martins that was it: I switched over to menswear and the rest is history.
What was it like studying at Central Saint Martins and Royal College of Art?
They both have reputations for producing outstanding designers. Both universities operate very differently. At Central Saint Martins everything felt amazingly free, like anything was possible. Whereas at Royal College of Art there was a strong focus on choice: anything was still possible, but the emphasis was on what do you choose and why?
Is it tough being a young designer in London?
Of course, but it would be tougher if I wasn’t based here. It has such an amazing support network for young talent that, in the end, it makes all of the hardships worth it. I feel very lucky to work in this kind of environment.
Where would you love to show your next collection?
I always find myself looking towards Paris. The shows there feel so epic, there’s so much gravity.
Some of your clothes could easily be worn by any gender. Is this something you’re conscious of?
I would say that my clothes are men’s designs that women can wear, although some of my clothes are female-specific. I think the gender of an outfit is really in the wearer. For example, if I buy a coat I want it to be a men’s coat because I like that particular silhouette and size. But if I buy a dress, I want it to be a women’s dress. Neither the coat nor the dress is unisex. Rather, it is my choice to wear whatever I want. Plus, unisex has never been a very attractive word in my opinion.
What about “genderless”?
It’s also unattractive. I believe choice is more important. That’s the future.