Two years ago, Alexa Chung was on stage at the FN Achievement Awards as our Style Influencer of the Year. Now she’s one of 2017’s breakout talents and will be honored with the 2017 Launch of the Year award for her Alexachung collection.
In September, the British designer sat down for a cover shoot and interview. Here’s what she told us about breaking into the fashion world.
It’s all about the right timing: Before she launched her eponymous brand this year, Chung had racked up an impressive roster of design gigs as a collaborator with brands including AG Jeans, Longchamp, Marks & Spencer, Ugg, Maje, Madewell, Eyeko and Nails Inc.“I realized I couldn’t just pop around anymore,” Chung said of her lucrative collaborative flings. “As much as it was educational and a great experience to do so many, I felt that if I was still being asked that often, maybe there was something there of substance that I could build on and create my own thing. This was something I’ve wanted to do since I was 18.”
Partnering with the right people is critical: Chung, 33, got investment early on. And she brought on Edwin Bodson (formerly of Haider Ackermann and Ann Demeulemeester) as her managing director, business strategist and operational expert. Or, as she refers to him, “Dad. He tells me what to do, and I often listen.”
Spend quality time with your customers: To boost business, Chung has hosted frequent in-store nights, dubbed “Lonely Hearts Club,” to help convert her 2.8 million followers on Instagram into new customers. At Paris Fashion Week, Chung held a fun and raucous party centering around the theme of her collection, “Prom Gone Wrong.”
Don’t be afraid to get a little help from your friends: In 2016, when it came to building a team around her and figuring out what her own role should be, “I genuinely didn’t know where to start,” admitted Chung. Luckily, she’d recently come off a crash course in the business of fashion. “I’d just made a documentary series for British Vogue where we researched every corner of the industry. Via doing that, interviewing Joseph Altuzarra or Christopher Kane, I was learning more about how people set up their companies.”
This marks the 31st year of the FN Achievement Awards, often dubbed the “Shoe Oscars” of the footwear industry. The much-anticipated event will be held on Nov. 28 at the IAC Building in New York and will honor the brightest stars of the business.
Among them: Designer of the Year Gianvito Rossi and Company of the Year Steve Madden. Additionally, Stan Smith will receive the Manolo Blahnik Lifetime Achievement Award, and the crown for Shoe of the Year will go to Virgil Abloh’s Air Jordan 1.
Click through the gallery to go behind the scenes of our cover shoot with Chung.