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Alexa Chung Loves LA Style, Is Nauseated by Festival Branding

The style-star-turned-designer discusses her new sneaker collaboration with Superga.
Alexa Chung at the Alexachung and Superga collaboration launch party. Photo: courtesy

Alexa Chung at the Alexachung and Superga collaboration launch party. Photo: courtesy

We've made no secret of the fact that in recent years, Los Angeles has become a more popular destination for designers and brands to host shows and events, and British-style-star-turned-entrepreneur Alexa Chung is no exception. "I really love LA," she said at the launch party for her new collaboration with Superga at the aesthetically-very-LA Venice restaurant The Butcher's Daughter Thursday night.

Years after being tapped as a face of the brand, Superga asked Chung to design a collection, which is notably a collab with the Alexachung brand, not just Chung herself: The brand's "A" logo is featured on the tongue and sole of each style. Since it's a spring collection, Chung opted to shoot the campaign imagery in LA. "The light's nice, it's better for a spring/summer shoot, London would be a bit of a hard sell. So because we shot literally around the corner, we thought it'd be nice to bring the event back to the place that we created the imagery around."

The collection is, unsurprisingly, very cute, and includes various interpretations of Superga's classic silhouettes including the 2750, mid cut and mule using surprising fabrics like satin and terry and soft, feminine colors like pale blue and purple. It's also not a one-off; Chung has already designed a fall range as well.

Chung, who looked impeccable in a denim dress, red coat and high-top shoes from her collab, was clutching a cocktail and passionately singing along to Brandy and Monica's "The Boy Is Mine" (her go-to karaoke song, apparently) when we sat her down for an interview. Read on for what she had to say about the collab, West Coast style (including her strong feelings about Coachella), and what she'd like to design next. 

So how did your relationship with Superga go from modeling for them to designing?

I don't know what was going on in their minds but yeah I modeled for them, I art directed for them and then last year they were like, 'You you fancy doing a collab, doing a spin on our trainer?' — sorry, sneaker — and I was like, of course. Sneakers were something that we didn't have within my brand yet; we do shoes and we haven't developed that, so it seemed like the perfect fit because we were already utilizing their brand in our look books.

This particular collection arrives at the same time that our collection called Virginia is out, which is a Bloomsbury Group collection, so we were looking for something that would sit alongside that color palette: I didn't want to be too modern with it because that was referencing the 1940s, so making sure that the fabrics and everything weren't too high-tech. We didn't want to change the sole or do anything crazy yet, in the next one it gets a little more freaky.

Alexachung x Superga campaign. Photo: Courtesy

Alexachung x Superga campaign. Photo: Courtesy

Tell us how to style them.

I don't really give it much thought. The reason I like Superga and the reason I like classic tennis shoes is they make me feel like George Harrison in the '70s. I think they're a good base layer for everything; usually denim sits really well with them, but come the summer months... Superga's like a summer shoe — so dresses, mini skirts. I think the only thing that would look bad is kind of a pencil skirt.

The reason I like them is they're versatile; even a suit or tailoring would look cool with them. In the campaign actually we have a black tight strapless dress, which I wouldn’t have thought would be cute but it actually looks nice.

What do you think of LA style?

I think it's great because I feel like you have more options for vintage here; people have sick style because they can pick up amazing things. It's a bit more versatile and varied because you can get one-of-a-kind stuff in like, Jet Rag or wherever. I'm talking about the LA style that I gravitate toward, as opposed to maybe there's a typical different kind of woman that exists here that I don't pay attention to, but the girls that I follow on Instagram all look like... Jane Birkin.

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Do you do a lot of shopping here? Where do you go?

I relish coming here, I went to Scout yesterday on Melrose and walked in in one outfit and came out in an entirely new one. I was a bit hungover, so it helped me part with my money. I love shopping here. I like American Rag, but they reduced their vintage section... Opening Ceremony, Maxfield. I really like the Isabel Marant on Melrose Place.

It's not like you get something different necessarily from those shops, but I really love their spaces because there's so much more room to express the personality of the brand.

Alexachung x Superga campaign. Photo: Courtesy

Alexachung x Superga campaign. Photo: Courtesy

The West Coast is also partly responsible for the proliferation of a 'festival season,' which is coming up. You've expressed pretty strong feelings about Coachella in the past. What do you think of that aesthetic now?

I actually regret I sort of slagged off Coachella a couple of years ago, and now I kind of want to go again. I think what I'm over is the commercialization of what should be a free and fun time, and one of the reasons I used to love going to festivals was I was focused on music, I was focused on having fun with my friends. 

The last thing you used to think about when you'd go to Glastonbury or European festivals is what you damn look like. It's a holiday. It's the one time of the year that you can be messy and you can be free, so to then capitalism to have swallowed that experience whole and suddenly every brand is billboarded around the backdrop of a VIP VIP VIP area, it just goes against what I think festivals started out as — as a democratic, mutual, communal experience. So whatever, I still love going to them, but I don't necessarily enjoy festival style because to put so much effort into something that should be effortless depresses me.

It's also become something brands create collections around.

I understand why it's a great commercial opportunity, but that in itself makes me feel a bit nauseous because I'm like, no, you're literally going to see like, a punk band, but then you're subscribing to the idea you need feathers in your hair.

We need a festival where they're just not allowed to have branding and street style.

Glastonbury. They're not allowed to do branding there, which is the first festival to inspire festival fashion — Kate Moss in the Hunter wellies. That's the irony of the situation: People walk around being themselves and then it gets co-opted... Don't social media your festival, just go and get really high and have a great time.

Is there a brand or category you'd still like to design something for that you haven't yet?

If you'd said that differently it would sound like this, 'Is there a brand you haven't designed for yet?' It could be cool to explore, rather than borrowing I might study riding boots and actually collaborate with the professional makers or artisans specializing in something. If you're like, oh I love a rattan basket bag to actually go to Aix-en-Provence and go to the legit one who started it.

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