“For me, fashion is more instinctive and emotional,” said Matthew Williams, the creator of the clothing line 1017 ALYX 9SM. Using his innate understanding of the relationship between youth and the music industry, Williams weaves the communal aspects of street style into his luxury modern design. Williams, 33, does not need to say much regarding the power and depth of his brand — the clothes speak for themselves.
Williams is a former creative coordinator of Lady Gaga’s Haus of Gaga, the team responsible for the singer’s vanguard style, and was head art director of Kanye West’s DONDA company. In its primary stages, Alyx was a womenswear brand that later started incorporating menswear elements. “I just create what I feel is relevant to exist today,” said Williams about the evolution of his designs. His bold concepts were recently seen on the Kim Jones’ directed-Dior runway in the form of “rollercoaster” belts, and several rappers, including Kanye West, Travis Scott, and Lil Uzi Vert, were spotted donning Alyx chest rigs. While amusement park ornamentation and military inspired wear tend to signify Alyx styles, the brand’s breadth of motifs is actually fairly wide. For example, a collaboration with Nike produced the MMW shoe collection, which features a “sock-like collar” affixed to a rubber outsole that gives the footwear a futuristic aesthetic.
While Williams always had an interest in fashion, being a designer didn’t enter his mind until he took a high school trip to Europe; the clean, monochromatic European tailoring and couture left a lasting impression on him and eventually propelled him to explore a career in fashion.
Williams was born in Chicago, but he grew up in Central California where he was immersed in the skate community, whose culture ultimately led to his streetwear concept. “I find inspiration through experience. My childhood and life experiences have influenced my design process,” he recalled. After high school, Williams attended first Santa Barbara City College and then UCSB before moving to Los Angeles. “My time at UCSB and SBCC was a great experience but it became before my initial dive into fashion,” he explained. “That began when I left Santa Barbara and moved to Los Angeles to work in clothing production.”
Protecting the environment is also close to Williams heart. “I care a lot about sustainability and keep this in mind when sourcing new materials or the overall development process,” he said. As such, Alyx garments utilize re-generagted cotton from textile waste, a through and through effort for ecological preservation.
Alyx’s narrow color palette and minimalist style resonates well with younger audiences. The wearbility of certain pieces allows people to customize their own head-to-toe Alyx looks that capture their authentic expression of self. Part of Alyx success is also due to the seismic impact that younger audience’s image making has had in increasing brand awareness.
Williams recently participated in the SS20 Paris runway show. “Our debut runway show for SS19 happened only one year ago in Paris, each season we improve all aspects,” he said of how this year differed from last year’s when he was an emerging designer still faced with uncertainty. Williams views the runways as art installations that showcase the intricate fabric selection and the final pieces, rather than a way to further brand recognition.
These days Williams has an ever-changing schedule, travelling quite a bit for meetings and events. When not globetrotting, he likes to “spend my time with family or at the design studio in Milan working on the upcoming collection or on special projects with my team.”