A conversation concerning Frank Ocean, upcycling, and beautiful '70s patches...
MONOGRAM: List your name, profession, and place of residence:
ALAN ECKSTEIN, Designer or Creative Director at times. Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
MONOGRAM: You had been designing a collection for several years and showing during NY Fashion Week. What was the impetus to start Everyone Wins, a clothing line that's created in such a different, non-traditional way?
ALAN: I started to think about Everyone Wins while I was away in Turkey working on development & production for my last venture. I was tired of making new products every season that seemed impossible to manufacture. I felt handicapped and frustrated with the industry until the new concept took center stage. I took my love of second-hand items and combined it with the guilt of me personally never doing anything great for the planet. Right now, the manufacturing to consumption chart is circular instead of linear. Well-made clothing survives and becomes the ultimate canvas for me. This concept has been done before – I’m not the first, but I really want to make “special” pieces. Individual, juicy, wear-until-it-falls-off kind of clothing.
MONOGRAM: On your website, you use the word “upcycling”. Tell us about that concept.
ALAN: Upcycling is taking a product that exists in the world, redesigning it using the best bones of the original, and combining with something added or taken away to give you a new product. The outcome should have a point of view that was different than the original. Also, the clothing and accessories used in the process are best when the originals were outdated overstock put through numerous clearances sales.
MONOGRAM: When looking at a garment, how are you able to see what will translate well into an Everybody Wins piece?
ALAN: I’m a designer that is really selfish. I constantly think, “how can I have pieces that I would want to wear?” I might take this old Prada buttondown, switch the collar or sleeves or take in the body so it has the culture of something that’s in my hemisphere. I have somewhat of a maximalist vibe. Everyone Wins is actually best when paired with another brand. A brand that makes great basics and minimalist clothing. Customers are looking for something unusual. I think there are people out there that could want something where the designer stayed up all night thinking of a possible remedy for the forgotten.
MONOGRAM: Are all the components you use – the patches, studs, and trims you add to each item – dead stock? Or are some materials new?
ALAN: Almost all components used are vintage, dead stock, or someone or something’s cherished trims. I love searching on the internet and flea markets. I can find a scarf and use that silk for the sleeves of a Hawaiian shirt for a little switch-up. When looking for patches, I mostly buy pieces from the ‘70s because of their special humor and gorgeous quality. The red color on patches from the ‘70s is outrageous and really well done. Most of my pieces are a hodgepodge of many generations and continents.
MONOGRAM: Changing gears for a second, you’re a man of many talents. Since you also moonlight as a DJ, what musician (past or present) would you love to see wearing your stuff?
ALAN: Haha, a man of so many interests but very few talents! My friend Mayer Hawthorne is so great. I love when he blends our world with his own. From a different standpoint, Frank Ocean wearing Everyone Wins would be so crazy good. He’s the coolest. There is no one out there even close.
MONOGRAM: You’ve also spent some time as a stylist and personal shopper. How do you get into someone else’s head to know what they’ll be into? Seems like the job is part aesthete, part therapist.
ALAN: I love personal shopping so much. It’s a hustle, but a favorite job because of the difference it makes. It’s all about finding someone’s inner personal style then polishing it a bit. Clothing can change the way you feel.
MONOGRAM: Do you have a favorite vintage t-shirt? How and when did you acquire it?
ALAN: I have this shirt from Bianca Chandon’s first season. It has a picture of Larry Levan on the front with big bold words around the image. I love that era and creativity, and the shirt doesn't bastardize the culture.
MONOGRAM: What’s your favorite way to style a t-shirt?
ALAN: Tucked into jeans with an Everyone Wins short sleeve buttondown open on top.
MONOGRAM: Do you use graphic t-shirts to articulate your point of view? How so?
ALAN: Definitely, they are the lifeblood and humor of my wardrobe. It’s funny because a basic t-shirt item can carry so much of someone’s personality.
MONOGRAM: Lightening round: describe yourself in terms of the following:
LOCATION: Eastern Long Island with my fiancé and my dog, Coconut
OBJECT: McIntosh audio equipment
VEHICLE: Compact SUV because it just makes the most sense, ya know
RITUAL: Power song in the subway before a DJ set
TAGLINE: Yes mon
PHOTOGRAPHY: Clement Pascal