Alexa Chung is a true "Jill" of all trades. The television host-model-fashion designer-writer-author-overall style icon is no stranger to fashion collaborations. She's previously designed two collections for Superga, in addition to being the face of the brand. And now, she's taking her talents to the British heritage lifestyle brand Barbour on behalf of her namesake brand. For the collaboration, Chung has reinvented classic Barbour staples with hints of corduroy, flannel lining and patchwork in unconventional places. The collection also includes a wax bucket hat (read on for her styling tips) and adorable bags. The pieces are timeless, practical and chic, similar to Chung's own style.
On Thursday, Oct. 10, Chung celebrated the launch of the Fall 2019 drop at New York City's Nordstrom Men's Store with a game of bingo (called by Chung, of course), British comfort food and friends. We had a chance to catch up with her at the event and ask a few of our burning questions about the collaboration, her karaoke addiction and her upcoming Netflix show with "Queer Eye"'s Tan France.
You launched your own fashion line three years ago. How do designing and collaborating differ?
I did some collaborations before I launched my line and the thing I always appreciated about them was the brief is narrower. When I'm designing a collection, I can do anything, but at least you kind of know where you stand [with collaborations]. [Barbour] needs to be functional and practical. It's a wax jacket; it's outerwear pieces. Those parameters are actually really helpful because then you can be creative within some boundaries.
We know you took a lot of inspiration from vintage Barbour pieces. How did you modernize those pieces for this collection?
I think it was about playing with that heritage and being cheeky, like putting an interesting lining or zipper where it's not meant to be. The "Patch," in particular, was inspired by a piece that was actually already pretty similar. Sometimes going to the past actually is super modern because it's re-contextualizing it. Putting it in the city or putting it in 2019 makes it already look modern.
How did you intertwine the styles of Alexachung and Barbour?
That's why I like Barbour, because that informed my style first. It's more of a chicken-and-egg scenario. When I grew up, I wore Barbour, so when I was an adult I wore them, too. It informed my style more than [vice versa].
How do you go about choosing the textiles, like corduroy and flannel?
They’re kind of the language that Barbour already speaks. It was more about altering colors or tones to make it specific to our brand. [Barbour] has an amazing trove of things that you can choose from. It's just easier than designing in my office where we would have to commission a fabric or whatever.
Bucket hats: Tell us why you like them and how to style them.
Our bucket hats are called the "Bez" because it was inspired by Bez from [the English rock band] Happy Mondays. He was essentially just a hype man. In Britain, bucket hats had peaked in the '90s when Robbie Williams and Liam Gallagher and everyone in Britpop bands was wearing them. I felt like that was another way to modernize some vintage because, obviously, the '90s are very popular now. And bucket hats, in particular, were everywhere, at least in the summer.
You're either a bucket hat guy or you're not a bucket hat guy. There is no way to trick it out. I think they're appropriate for every outfit. You don't need an umbrella with the hat.
Hypothetical question: You can only choose one piece from the collection to wear all season. What is it?
In England, we enjoy four weathers per day. You actually get all the seasons in one day, depending on the clouds. So maybe the "Glenda." In London, I saw a boy wearing the "Pip" jacket the other day and I tried to high-five him and he just kept running through the rain.
How important is comfort when designing a collection?
You know, I was talking to someone the other day about how jeans aren't actually comfortable; it's a huge fallacy. So I am still very interested in aesthetics. With clothes, I can put up with quite a bit of discomfort, but outerwear tends to be very comfortable. I don't think anyone's ever worn a coat that hurts them. They're always going to be comfy because they're always a bit bigger.
Tell me about your upcoming Netflix show with Tan France.
Oh my god. It was great. I met him the day before we started, so if we didn't get off, it would have been terrible. But he quickly became one of my favorite people. It was fun.
What was it like getting back to your on-screen hosting roots?
I wondered why I stopped doing it. I'm very happy with a microphone in my hand so that's why I did so much karaoke. In lieu of doing television, I started becoming overly addicted to karaoke. I needed the rush of full attention and an amplified voice.
You've also started a YouTube channel. What has that creative process been like?
Youtube's really fun. We just do it quite off the cuff. I think that's the beauty of it.
Are there any dream brands that you want to work with in the future?
[Barbour] is a dream. I've never asked someone to date me. They usually come in and say "Hey, can I take you out?" Barbour is the first one I courted.
Click through the gallery below to see more pieces from the Barbour x Alexachung collaboration.
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