Alexander Wang Turned Down A Major Designer Before He Made It Big

Jessica Schiffer

The wunderkind of the fashion world, Alexander Wang, sheds some very interesting light on his entrée into fashion design in a new interview with The Guardian. “There’s no, like, my mom was a seamstress, or my dad was a tailor, or anything like that,” the California native tells writer Jess Cartner-Morley. Instead, his parents—first generation Taiwanese immigrants—had a flourishing plastics company and were often away on business. As a result, they sent him off to boarding school where he befriended Vanessa Traina Snow and grew enamored with her couture-filled wardrobe. His fashion palate would only expand from there. “I never really played sports after school like the other kids did,” he says, somewhat ironically, given the athletic leanings of his recent collections. To fill the time, he turned to fashion magazines, which eventually led him to pursue a design career at Parsons in New York.

While still in school, he debuted a collection of sweaters, but decided to leave Parsons soon after in order to focus on his business full-time. Coincidentally, one of those first sweaters was spotted on a Vogue staffer by none other than Diane von Furstenberg. She was so intrigued that she got in touch with Wang and offered him a spot on her design team. But Wang turned it down! It’s a pretty ballsy move for a newbie designer with an uncertain future, but as he tells it, “I was really flattered…but I’d dropped out of school to start this line, I’d made a commitment to my family who had supported me in it, and I wasn’t ready to give up.”

Of course, his calculated risk paid off enormously, with the Alexander Wang brand now adored by women the world over. But he certainly took notes on how to get there, citing Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford as particularly inspiring: “I loved how they created a whole world around them which was authentic to who they were. So that’s what I wanted to do.” Mission more than accomplished, huh?

Head over to The Guardian to read the full interview, and let us know your thoughts on the Alexander Wang brand in the comments!

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