Our Close Ups series continues with menswear designer and creative practitioner Alex Hackett, better known as 'miniswoosh'. Alex made the move to London two years ago, relocating from Melbourne, Australia. Since then she has been working hard on her label ALCH whilst juggling jobs as studio manager for Christopher Shannon and weekends at sneaker boutique Footpatrol.
This year has been busy for Alex, amongst all her other projects she was one of twelve that were selected to enter the Nike Vote Forward Competition in March. Her innovative sneaker design was a combination of nine original Air Max models that feature visible air. Since Vote Forward, her following continues to expand rapidly and we are always waiting with anticipation to see what she designs next. So, it’s no surprise her pieces are being noticed internationally and worn by artists like Stormzy and Kendrick Lamar. Alex is now freelancing fulltime and if you didn’t know about her before this Close Up, prepare to see more of her as she kicks off her brand officially in 2018.
When did you start your label ALCH?
When I was in university, so around the time when Instagram first started. I used to do self-directed little projects everyday, where I would make something out of a “textile” I had found, then post a photo of it on Instagram. That’s kind of how it all started.
How would you describe ALCH’s brand identity?
It focuses on the idea of deconstruction and reconstruction, and fabrication-based design. The process of each piece starts with a textile - one that may not be traditionally associated with clothing or apparel design - then I look into how the functions of that material can be transferred into an item of apparel. I’m really interested in extending the life-span of a textile or product, through the process of apparel design and production.
How do you find the creative environment different in London in comparison to Melbourne?
Everyone is really hungry for it over here. If you’re not working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or at least trying to work that much, you won’t get that far. I feel like there’s always someone who’s willing to work harder for the opportunities available. It’s almost a case of in Australia, you can be a big fish in a small pond, whereas in London it’s the other way around, you’re a small fish in a big pond.
How much has Instagram played a part in your brand exposure?
Instagram has been a huge contributing factor to my career. I’ve used it from the beginning and it has been a great business, creative and motivational tool to get my work out there. I’ve always looked at it as a form of digital portfolio. I try to keep it quite clinical and positive with the content that I create and distribute on there, however what I get back from Instagram is quite personal - as in, I only really follow my friends. I think you can get quite caught up in social media and, mentally, it can become a lot of pressure so that’s why I think it’s important to separate yourself.
One of your standout projects this year was the pieces you designed using the heel tab of the Air Max 97 Silver Bullet. Tells us a bit about the project, how did it come about?
The Silver Bullet was one of those trainers that I’d dreamt about for years. To me, it seemed like the perfect trainer design and my favorite colorway. I’m so inspired by footwear design, and I was so excited about this release that I knew I had to make something to pair with it. I felt like it needed to be celebrated.
What do you find unique about the 97 silhouette in comparison to other Air Max models?
The Silver Bullet’s design was inspired by the ripple effect of a drop of water - something very organic. Yet when transformed into that monochromatic silver color palette, it looked almost mechanical. It has quite a futuristic feel to it, despite being 10 years old. Funnily enough, it was designed by Christian Tresser, who also designed another one of my favorite Nike models - the Spiridon.
What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
Slow down and don’t take on too much. I’m kind of notoriously known for working myself to the bone and really pushing physical limits all for the sake of a deadline. Deadlines truly are the best diet. It’s taken me a long time to realize that I should probably stop doing that and try and manage my projects better. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to deliver a standard of work that your happy with and this isn’t possible if you’re rushing.
What does your 2018 look like?
Well, it starts off with an online store restock, then I’m going to Japan for the very first time. Then I’ll start working on ALCH Spring/Summer 19 which is going to show at London Fashion Week Men’s in June, kicking off my brand officially. In the meantime, it’s Air Max Day, so I’ll hopefully be working with Nike on some more special projects.