Steven Alan’s first collection launched in 1999, with casual, smart, self-assured essentials. The designer has since quietly emerged as an uncommon fashion pioneer grounded in classic American roots, and has found a niche for himself making refined separates fashioned with a twist. The Steven Alan brand and Steven Alan, the man, are both mainstays in the fashion industry that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Can you tell us about your background and how you got started?
SA: I went to the High School of Art & Design, here in New York. It was structured very much like a vocational college, where you would pick a concentration. I focused on Photography and then moved to Film and Video. I worked for my parents at first. My dad is a jewelry designer, and I managed one of the stores. I found I really enjoyed retail, which led me to open my first store.
Did you always think you would be part of the fashion industry? What would you be doing if not?
SA: I was always interested in the fashion industry but wasn’t sure I would be a part of it. I could never sketch and thought that might be an obstacle early on, but in designing I found I was able to articulate my ideas with my design team. I’ve always been very interested in art and love discovering things, so I would want to be running a gallery.
Your brand is a staple in American fashion. How did you get to that point and establish yourself so strongly?
SA: Starting with one item at a time. I never thought of myself as a designer. Every season we were adding items, and eventually it grew into a full collection. The voice of the brand evolved over time. I didn’t want it to be a logo-driven brand.
How do you keep classic design fresh and interesting? What is your design process like?
SA: The goal is to make something signature without having logos. For us, it begins with the fabric. Fabric and silhouette are the starting place. Then we look at it and ask, what is our take or twist on this?
What are you most proud of? What have been your biggest challenges?
SA: In general, my family. Having kids is the greatest joy. In work, the fact that we have both a strong men’s and women’s collection that sit well together, which is not always an easy thing for brands to do, and we keep inventing. The biggest challenge is managing growth but maintaining the essence of the brand.
Can you tell us about the collaborative pieces you are making for us?
SA: We are making a tote bag and a pillow out of Steven Alan fabric, screen printed on either side with different word pairings like HIS/HERS, EAST/WEST, and ON/OFF.
Need Supply Co is hosting a special private event with Steven Alan on Friday, August 16th. Meet the designer in person and preview his Fall 2013 collection along with exclusive product. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.