Alex Drexler, son of J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler, has launched a clothing line called Alex Mill, which—and here’s where it gets meta—is meant to be worn by fathers and sons.
When did Alex Mill form, and what was the inspiration behind the brand?
Fall 13 is our 1st season. The whole idea of Alex Mill started with trying to find the perfect woven shirt with the right fabric, the fit, and the right details. The idea was that despite all the woven shirts out there it was still hard to find just the right shirt. And if you found one one season, you could never find the same one again. Finding that perfect shirt evolved from a just one shirt to the man’s uniform. And Alex Mill is based on the man’s uniform – the shirt, the t-shirt, and the jean. This is what most men wear and this simple idea is the basis behind Alex Mill. Men don’t want to choose in the morning between a boxy, slim and medium fit t-shirt. They only want 1 t-shirt, and once they find that right t-shirt they want to buy multiples it. Same with jeans – guys don’t want too many choices and when they find the right jean they want to keep buying it whether it be a darker or lighter wash. That’s why all Alex Mill shirts have 1 fit and all Alex Mill jeans have one fit. It’s about the straightforward men’s uniform. The “father-son” element came out of the mantra of “like father-like son,” style starts young, and everything looks good miniature. That’s why many of the Alex Mill men’s items are also available in shrunken down versions for kids.
With so many different men's clothing lines starting these days, what is one thing you have done differently?
What we have tried to focus on is fabric, fit, and detail to differentiate ourselves. As mentioned, despite all the shirts out there, I think it’s still hard to find a great shirt. What sets us apart and what we believe makes the shirt starts with the fabric. We source our fabric from all over the world and many of our fabrics come from Japan. Once we have selected the fabric, it goes through an extensive washing process. Sometimes garments are washed for up to 2 hours. In that sense, the hand feel of the fabric has a great feel to it. The other element is the buttons and details. We use a variety of buttons from mother of pearl to corozo to melamine – which are real industrial buttons like the kind used in the military. Our shirts have a number of special stitch details such as trapunto stitching on the placket of our oxford shirts. These special details help to differentiate the shirts. It’s not always something every guy notices immediately but you start to discover them as you wear them. At the end of the day, we are aiming to deliver the customer a product of great value that they will have for a very long time.
You mentioned that you grew up in the industry. Was starting your own clothing line something that has always been a dream?
I went to law school because I wanted to be in the FBI but than ended up dropping out of law school. After the FBI seemed to be not a realistic option, I started working in production. However, at always had an interest in starting my own business and doing something on my own. Thus, after 6 years in clothing production, I decided to try something on my own. Starting a business has been a very hard and complex but also has huge rewards.
Last week you opened a storefront in NYC, in what ways does the new space reflect your brand?
We wanted to create a unique store where the environment epitomized the product. In that sense, we have some interesting details such as floor based on an old gymnasium, vintage tin ceiling, and a map of New York made out of vintage denim from Japan. The space has some modern elements to it combined with some vintage elements and I feel this juxtaposition is also represented in the clothing.
How has working with a small team benefited the fast growth of the brand?
Working with a team has really been critical. You can’t do it all by yourself and each person has critical skills they bring to the table. Alex Casertano, who designs, has been with us since the early stages and his ideas and skills have been very important as have the different people in our group. When you work together with a great group, new ideas can mere.
What is one thing we can expect from Alex Mill in the future?
Aside from other elements, one thing you can expect from Alex Mill is that we will keep delivering quality product that has value to it. Quality is our top concern and we don’t want to veer from it. Despite how beautiful it looks, it must fit well and be well made.
What are your five essentials for this fall?
5 essentials in the collection: 1. A Type Jeans in Aged or One Year Wash 2. Standard T-Shirt 3. Oxford Shirt 4. Western Ombre Shirt 5. Mariners Long Sleeve T-Shirt
Thanks to our photographer, Antony Ohman for putting together this interview with Alex Mill.