Your first look at the S&M, military, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony-inspired line. Plus: Williams talks about designing for sustainability and soul.
“I believe that there are too many clothes on this earth,” says Matthew Williams, the 31 year-old fashion designer once known for celebrity image-making (see: Lady Gaga, Kanye West) and the influential streetwear line Been Trill. “If I am going to take the responsibility of making clothing, I need to make something that deserves to exist.”
We met a few weeks back in Paris during men’s fashion week, where Williams has a showroom for his brand Alyx (named after his three year-old daughter), though he and his family now live in Ferrara, Italy so that he can be closer to the factories and mills he works with for his collections.
“My collections are heavily developed, from the fabric down to all the trim,” Williams says. Which is why being so close to the source is crucial for his young brand. “If you do something that somebody has done before it’s difficult to make well, let alone if you do something that’s actually new and special.”
Commerce is king in the fashion world, but Williams shrugs off the frenetic pace demanded by an over-hyped market. Instead he takes a slow, artisanal approach to designing collections, sometimes taking a year to develop a fabric or wash technique. That is exactly why it’s taken him two years since starting the brand to launch a men’s line, which debuts exclusively here, and will be available in stores like Dover Street Market New York, Ssense, Opening Ceremony, and Totokaelo (among others) next week.
“I have the passion to create both,” he says. “I just felt like it was the right order to first get womenswear to have a strong language and to get my own voice really consistent there, and then bring in the men’s.”
Titled E. 1999 Eternal (a reference to the Bone Thugs-n-Harmony album of the same name), Alyx’s men’s debut is inspired by time Williams spent in Berlin: S&M details, military influence, and fine wool tailoring are the main moves. It’s a stark collection with an intense, polished ethos—not exactly a reflection of William’s roots in laid back Pismo Beach, California (although his ongoing collaboration with Vans is).
“I don’t want to be one of those designers that doesn’t explain myself,” Williams says. “But it is items of clothing that I feel need to exist. And it’s really a reflection of culture and what my vibe is and what I feel is missing from fashion today—and what I want to wear.”