The designer had an epic summer with a Paris Fashion Week debut and sold-out Nike collab, but he's still churning out the modern layers that made him one to watch in the first place.
About a year ago, you could have argued that Matthew Williams took an analog approach to building his Alyx brand. Despite being the poster child for fashion that leans towards the futuristic, technical, and tactical—he uses "computational design and computer data" to create clothes—Williams is still the designer who moved his family from New York City to Ferrara, Italy to be closer to the factories that produce his intricately-detailed and R&D-heavy menswear. (Also his nylon "chest rig" bags). He didn't court attention the way other press-hungry upstart labels do; instead, his items found their way onto the backs and bodies of the right people (Kanye, A$AP Rocky, Kendall Jenner). Williams officially launched menswear only last year and only after he had five seasons of womenswear under his signature roller-coaster-seatbelt-inspired belt. (Before that he was peppering in unisex bomber jackets and graphic tees alongside the brand's sheer lace dresses and leather tube tops.)
But then came Paris Fashion Week this past June—and with it, the premiere of Williams' collaboration with Kim Jones on a lineup of "CD" buckle accessories for that Brit designer's debut show for the iconic French label. This summer also saw the opening of the first pop-up shop for Williams' "MMW" Nike collaboration—a sleek collection of tech-y workout gear that's now sold out the world over. And it was also the span when Williams held his first-ever coed Alyx fashion show for his Spring/Summer 2019 collection. If it appeared Williams was taking things slow and steady before, his brand is at an all-out sprint right now.
"It was just really surreal," Williams told GQ about the convergence of so many projects in Paris. "It's not something I planned. Things take time to develop and it happened by chance that the Dior show, the Nike pop-up store, and the first runway show were at the same time." What appears to be overnight success is in reality the result of projects Williams has had in the works for the last year, if not longer. Which brings us to his Fall/Winter 2018 men's collection.
The Fall/Winter '18 collection was finished before the runway show, the Nike collab release, and his anointment as Kim Jones's most trusted buckle man and is very much a connective thread between what came before and what is to come for Williams. The short answer: hardcore military gear with a minimalist touch. Titled "Relentless," the lineup will be familiar to fans of Williams' slick Neo-on-a-Saturday aesthetic. Hallmarks that have made the brand a hit with cool kids and deep-pocketed customers alike abound: pockets on pockets, utilitarian details and bags, clothes cut to move with the wearer, fabrics you won't find anywhere else (garment-dyed nylon you say?) and a heavy dose of luxury (i.e. pebbled leather pants). There's plenty that's new, too: a special digital print camo polar fleece, for example, that Williams developed with, in his words, "a DWR coating that makes it waterproof and backed with a three-layer membrane and mesh, so it's taped on the inside." In other words, you won't suffer from wet dog syndrome if you're caught wearing the cozy pullover in some shitty weather. The layers on layers (tees under vests under coats plus neck warmers), high necklines, and face-shrouding hoods give the entire collection a modern armorial vibe.
Or more accurately, they're clothes for Williams. "I was just inspired by clothes that I wanted to wear," he says about the soon-to-drop season. They're pieces for the anti-nine-to-five set—of which Williams, along with old Been Trill pal Virgil Abloh, is a founding member—and refreshingly divorced from any trends you're bound to find this fall. Everything seen here is also, importantly and seriously, Alyx. Williams has created a distinct aesthetic that's cut through the menswear fog, which is no easy feat. And from what we've seen for next year, it's only going to get better. But Williams isn't thinking about that; "I'm working on things people will end up seeing a year from now," he says, "and I'm excited about that."
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