According to emerging British footwear designerAlexander White, “Sandra Choi told me I should start my own label, so the next day, I incorporated my company.” That was three years ago. His first official collection was spring ’16, and he has been making waves ever since. On Tuesday, White is making his on-schedule debut at London Fashion Week.
But back to that serendipitous meeting with Choi. He accosted her at Heathrow Airport after a spot of stalking. “She was standing in front of me at check-in, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s Sandra Choi,” he said. But how could he be sure? “I didn’t want it not to be her, so I checked her shoes, which didn’t help because she was wearing Vans. But then she pulled a Jimmy Choo purse of out of her Jimmy Choo handbag,” White said, laughing.
However, by the time he’d galvanized himself into action, he ended up having to chase through Terminal 5 to catch her. He initially asked if she had any jobs going (she hadn’t), but she did ask him if he’d considered launching his own line, as she reckoned Alexander White was a good name for a brand.
“She gave me her email, and I came to her office with my portfolio,” he said. “She spent an hour and a half looking at it and told me she thought my work was really strong and that if I wanted to start my own label, I was more than capable.” He incorporated his company the next day. “I’d already done my business plan and market research,” he said, “but she gave me the push I needed.”
Most popular styles include his ruffled Issey mule, mesh embroidered Brianna pump and Camille paper bag boot. He’s already had his fair share of celebrity traction, too, and styles have found their way onto a roster of influencers, including Kylie Jenner, Alicia Vikander, Emma Watson and Kelly Rowland.
The designer has given FN an exclusive preview of his presentation and shared this image of a new fall hero, the Odessa glitter Western boot. Overall collection inspiration, he said, is 1970s meets Texas: “I amalgamated the two concepts into a disco cowboy theme.” White was particularly drawn to the idea of old-school Texan oil heiresses dripping in Parisian couture.
Following stints with Erdem and Giles, the Cordwainer’s graduate worked at Kurt Geiger before launching his own line. Stockists include Lane Crawford, Level Shoe District, Barneys and Galeries Lafayette Doha. Quality for White is paramount, but while shoes are made in Italy — the same factory as Jimmy Choo’s — prices seek to bridge the gap between luxury and high-end high street. And with an average of $600, he’s succeeded.