It’s an only-in-Los Angeles story.
U.K.-born, L.A.-based music producer Alexander Grant (aka Alex da Kid) has helped create chart-topping hits including Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” and Eminem and Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie,” been nominated for Grammys and dated Halle Berry.
Now he’s making his fashion debut with “by Alexander,” a line that aims to make the creative process part of the brand experience, down to the replica of his living room and media studio he’s constructing for his new store opening at 317 North Rodeo Drive in 2021.
“People will be able to see how we make things, how we make music, how I shout at my creative director — they’ll see the entire process unfold — that’s all part of what makes the clothes,” he said, adding, “We actually got the space one week before coronavirus, but Bernard [Arnault], who owns the building, was nice enough to renegotiate my rent.”
In the meantime, Grant’s first clothing drop is a 19-piece unisex collection called “000 Channel Black” that is his take on elevated sportswear with tomboyish silhouettes (a tailored merino wool blazer, oversize sherpa lamb sweatshirt, paneled sweat pants, cropped leather puffer, and cutout pocket washed denim jeans highlighting the hip bone as erogenous zone). It won’t be wholesaled, and will only be available on his web site and in his forthcoming store. Prices range from $595 to $2,995.
Model Irina Shayk appears alongside the designer in the first brand campaign, which was styled by Rihanna’s image architect Mel Ottenberg. For men’s wear, actor Gary Busey (yes, that Gary Busey) is featured in the collection’s outerwear, joggers and oversize T-shirt. “He’s a lunatic, an icon in my eyes,” said Grant, acknowledging the divergent styles of his female famed model and male “lunatic” collection muses.
Grant’s entry into fashion is an extension of the multidisciplinary, multimedia approach he’s been bringing to his work for a decade. In 2011, he launched his own combination record label, publisher, production house and marketing agency — KidinaKorner — in partnership with Interscope Geffen A&M Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group. “I love expressing myself in multiple mediums, otherwise I get bored,” said the designer upstart, who follows multidisciplinary L.A. designers Kanye West and Sterling Ruby in that respect.
Last year, Grant started designing clothes in his Hollywood Hills home, eventually growing his staff to include two sample sewers, a pattern-maker and production people, and installing 20 machines, in addition to tapping into downtown L.A.’s manufacturing capabilities.
“I was setting clothes on fire, that was my first thing,” he said, naming Martin Margiela as an inspiration for his techniques, which include hand-washing 12-ounce patchwork denim blankets, then cutting and sewing them into garments. “I use my ignorance as an advantage. I like the place of not knowing the rules and doing what makes sense to me. That helped me create a different music perspective.”
Releasing new music is also part of the brand, including the two-track jazz single “Trumpets” featuring Kanye protege 070 Shake that debuted last week. A full jazz-inspired album with the same name as the clothing collection, “000 Channel Black,” will follow Aug. 27 with tracks from Rick Owens’ wife, Michele Lamy, Shayk and others.
“I am going to put out music, albums and clothes and not be on any kind of calendar,” Grant said, adding, “But I don’t want anyone to confuse what I’m doing with merch. I’m paying attention to detail and I want to speak to luxury. I’m not doing much printing, it’s about silhouettes and craft.”
As for the segue from pop to jazz, he thinks it’s refreshing. “So much about music is formulaic now, and I was part of making a lot of it. It has to fit into categories for radio and ESPs, but sometimes I can’t convey how I feel in a three minute 30 second pop song. Jazz doesn’t have to be easy listening. Some of it is dangerous and provocative, just like all the things kids like about hip hop, rock and dance.”
When asked what jazz album one should download now, he said, “The Bad Plus. They are new, and they have, like, four fans, but they have been inspiring me.”