Alexa Chung settles into her chair, drawing up one long leg to hugging her knee to the point the Supergas on her feet become the third party to our conversation.
“It’s funny with a sneaker how a tiny proportional change can make a huge difference to how they look to your eye,” she tells GRAZIA. “It’s kind of precision surgery with sneakers, which I never really knew before.”
The intricacies of creating street kicks is something the 34-year-old designer, model, television presenter, and long-time global style icon would certainly know, given she’s now co-designed two capsule collections of footwear now with storied Italian sneaker brand Superga, having enjoyed a close relationship with the brand since serving as an ambassador for it back in 2012. (Later celebrity faces have included Rita Ora, Suki Waterhouse, and Australian supermodel Abbey Lee, who dazzled in a campaign video for the brand.)
While not technically athletics shoes, the label started with a tennis style back in 1911 and is now the ‘comfortable flats’ go-to for celebrities, stylists and even royalty (Kate Middleton is often snapped in hers when off-duty).
But Chung is not here to talk campaigns of the past. Rather, the focus is firmly on the follow-up collaborative range she’s made with the brand, a follow-up to her highly successful first drop in March 2018. “To work with Superga was an amazing experience and now, for the second time, I’m launching my collection,” she says. “I really enjoyed creating for the brand and adding a piece of myself into the designs. I hope that everyone loves them as much as I enjoyed making them.”
GRAZIA’s face-to-face CHAT with Alexa Chung
Is this SUPERGA x ALEXACHUNG collection an extension of your own personal style? “It’s more an extension of the style, of the collection, of the season that our brand [ALEXACHUNG] had out. Because this collaboration is between my brand and Superga, as opposed to just me, so we designed the collection around where it would sit in a store alongside our clothes.
This is your second capsule co-created with Superga. How was the process of designing it different to the first?
“I think with the first one we were keen to start establishing our mutual aesthetic, exploring what that would be and also being faithful to the classics because that’s what I liked about the brand. We did subtle but significant changes [to previous Superga styles] for the first one. I didn’t want to mess with the format too much, rather just try and change the colour palette, and the fabrications, add a toe cap, make the high tops higher, and so on.
“The second [collection], it was sort of like: okay, we’ve had a nice dinner but now we are going to the party. It gets a little jazzier and there’s a kind of outdoorsy, hiking element to this collection, I think because we were inspired by the soles we found in Superga’s own archive. With that heavier tread, it was about figuring out fabrications and hardware that were complementary to that.”
THE FULL COLLECTION
How does your process for designing shoes compare to creating ready-to-wear? “Shoes are different for me because they’re lead by the ready-to-wear. With the clothes it’s more agonising because it’s weeks of it slowly uncurling, whereas with shoes it’s more of a conversation and response to what the clothes are doing. You can be a bit more decisive and reactionary.”
That new-look chunky ALPINA LUG-sole, a historical style with roots in superga’s training styles, is certainly the signature of this collection. Can you talk to us a little more about how it came about? “The ‘A’ motif is just the logo for my brand and we just positioned it on the soles, so it was kind of obscure but not really. It’s funny with a sneaker how a tiny proportional change can make a huge difference to how they look to your eye. It’s kind of precision surgery with the sneakers, which I never really knew. Even adding the welting at the front or expanding it or decreasing it, or adding that extra stripe like on the mustard pair, or the back tab or whatever, has an impact.”
You’ve used some new materials and colours this time around. What do you love most about each? “We’ve got very beautiful high-shine leather, which I liked for its slightly fake appeal and the idea that it’s quite ‘90s to me. We have another pair of maroon or burgundy velvet high-tops which are really beautiful. That kind of boudoir colour feels a bit more luxe; the juxtaposition between [that] and the practicality of a hiking shoe was amusing to me. Then with the suedes, we wanted to keep it quite simple, so we’ve got our ecru suede pair, which are plainer, then the mustard, which I guess are more masculine. The first collection was more feminine and this collection is more masculine.”
“I was just looking around the room thinking: ‘Oh the other ones are bit girly, whereas these are more tomboyish’.”
What are your favourite sock-plus-Superga colour combinations for this capsule? “I saw some really cute Molly Goddard check tights the other day, I think they’d look good with a pair. I mean just go for a white ankle sock with the white ones and the black with the burgundy. I really like a tonal sock with it, so if you could find a burgundy sock to go with it, that would be the dream.”
These are obviously designed for the Northern Hemisphere’s Autumn/Winter season. What would be your best styling tips for Australians during our consecutive Spring/Summer? “Well, we made some slip-on ones with that in mind. Yes, there are northern hemisphere appropriate ones, which hopefully you can buy and store until it gets cold again, but like the hiking ones with the cut-out, I would say they’re pretty spring-summery. Also, there’s a slider so you can just ‘zip’ and head down to the beach.”
The Superga x ALEXACHUNG second collaborative range is available now from stockists including David Jones, The Iconic, Glue Store, Tuchuzy Store, Dakota 501, Hunter Store, Eco D, and Fifi and Annie. Prices range from $130 to $230 AUD.
Special thanks to Marnie Dibden Cate for conducting this interview.