‘Tina Turn-Around’ and ‘I am not Sochi’ frame NewGen newcomer Alex Mullins‘s SS15 collection, who’s also known as “cowboy-mad Mullins“. With Americana Malibu gangs being his main concept for this season, we talked with Alex about gangs, politics, and ‘fashion design method acting’.
Is this collection for London gangs, who are fighting their own war?
It’s not really about gangs in a violent way, just gangs and groups of people sharing a view, style or heritage and their personal outlook on the world.
What causes do you think London gangs would be fighting for?
Anti-racism, anti-discrimination, and anti-violence.
What was happening in world news when you first got the ‘gangs’ idea?
There is current news, but there are always the same age-old problems. The problems are the things that need to change.
You integrated “I’m not Sochi” in your patchworks. What’s the thought behind it?
I believe that my work should act like a tapestry. I can tell you who this gang is and what they do, but it’s up to your own imagination to decide on their views. I have my own views which echo throughout my work, with the aim to say what I want to say, through ones own perception.
Do you put current affairs into perspective within your work, or would you like to keep a distance from politics?
I have my messages, and I have something to say, but I think these messages are something that should be said in silence.
One of the main functions of art is to present a point of view, or spark a debate about the state the world is in. How informed do you think a fashion designer’s work should be in terms of what’s happening globally?
Every person, and designer, is different. Everything I do is a reaction to a thought or a feeling that I have–Something that makes my body tense up, something that I have to respond to, or something that makes me excited. For me, this connection is really important, as if you don’t have something to say, then what’s the point? I choose to speak through my work, actions and decisions. I don’t think I’m here to change people’s minds, but I do want to share how I feel in the hope that this strikes a chord with whoever is looking.
What are your favourite gang movie?
With NEWGEN knocking on the door, what has changed most since we last spoke in February 2014?
My outlook on me and my brand, and what I want to achieve in the future.
In the past you’ve said your inspirations are ‘Americana’ and ‘Malibu’, how did you originally want to blend these ideas?
I set out to create a collection that felt like time had passed, and times had changed through each garment. Setting the scene in a dusty trailer park allowed me to create a setting for the evolution of the clothes. Each wearer reinterpreting each piece through the generations of hand-me-downs, with added layers of customization and feeling. The history of modern and ancient America as a country, allows me to go back and forth through time, creating a melting pot of ethnicities, cultural references, and narratives.
Your collections usually have a distinct story line, something which I think you were taught intensely at the Royal College of Art. How do you feel about the idea of ‘method acting’ as a designer, as in really trying to become the ‘character’ you’re trying to make?
Each season I try a bit of doing method acting for that collection—for me, I really need to become deeply connected to the characters and pieces I create to allow me to understand the clothes and how they sit within the ‘real world’. Sometimes this is just mentally, but quite often, it means playing with the way I actually wear my own clothes, and analyzing what I’m comfortable with and what excites me to wear. In the future, I really wish I could do quite extreme method acting for my collections, by literally stepping inside the narratives I’m creating.
Grilling T-bone steaks on a BBQ inside your studio, to be a real bad-ass Americana gang member?
I would be totally up for it!!! But would love to push it even further than just being a cowboy eating steak in the studio,as I already do that anyways.
“The women were wearing fur and cowboy boots. Everyone had cowboy boots…” Read our previous interview with Alex.
Lookbook photography by Baker & Evans