In Medias Res: Alex Kasavin
In Medias Res: Alex Kasavin
- Words Christopher Fenimore
- Date April 06, 2018
In Medias Res is a column in which photographer Chris Fenimore links up with some of fashion's most interesting people to see what they're wearing throughout the week.
How old are you and where do you currently work?
I just turned 44. I’m the co-founder and creative director of Idol Brooklyn.
Where did you grow up, and where do you currently live?
I grew up in San Francisco. As a kid I spent a lot of time at the movies; they had an arthouse theater where I’d watch all the John Waters and Jodorowsky flicks. I also frequented this cluttered shop that sold R. Crumb and Vaughn Bodē comics and back issues of Heavy Metal. I was acquainted with oddball characters like Jim Marshall, the legendary Rolling Stone photographer and Anton LaVey. I had friends from all walks of life who turned me on to different kinds of music, art and literature. I have fond memories of buying weed on Haight Street, watching Barry Bonds play with the Giants at Candlestick Park and wandering through the neighborhoods there. Today, I’m the product of all these adventures and experiences.
I currently reside in Williamsburg.
How did you get into fashion?
In high school I started going to underground raves. There was a small shop on Haight Street called Ameba where you could ask the guy what parties were happening. It sold acid house tapes and its own clothing line. Its most notable product was this hand-printed step-and-repeat Charles Manson tee. I also liked this label called Anarchic Adjustment that made tripped-out graphic tees with fractals, aliens and UFOs.
I did a semester at City College. We called it “Harvard on the Hill.” I was still going to raves but it was no longer cool to dress in a way that identified you with the scene. Most of the kids I hung out with wore Polo and sold drugs. Polo outerwear was out of my budget and it had security tags on it so it was impossible to steal. Instead I turned to flashy Italian designers like Versace and Moschino. There were a few shops with deep discounts on past season pieces and the rest I procured from consignment shops in Pacific Heights.
By the time this style appeared in rap videos I had already burned out. I sold all my designer clothes except a studded Versace belt that I have to this day. Fashion felt superficial to me. It no longer represented who I was. For many years I wore the same uniform: Black tee, black Dickies and black Air Force 1s. On occasion I’d dabble in labels like agnès b and A.P.C., but all I really cared about was music, art and literature.
In 2007 I discovered Rick Owens and conceptual labels like Carol Christian Poell, Carpe Diem and M.A+. I started posting to fashion forums. There I met fellow travelers and flipped clothes in the classifieds to support my newfound hobby. Up to this point I had never stopped to consider how a garment was constructed or paid attention to details beyond what was on the surface. Suddenly I was sharing fit pics and discussing seasonal collections with my forum buddies. I had turned into a full-fledged fashion nerd.
One major highlight for me was seeing the Raf Simons Sterling Ruby show on our first winter buying trip to Paris. The show opened with
Breathe from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I was listening to this exact track hours earlier on the plane. The collection was like the idealized uniform of my youth. I remember sitting there in the dark, overcome with jet-lag and nostalgia, thinking to myself, “Fuck, this is how amazing fashion can be.”
Tell me about what you did before Idol.
Looking back, my entire trajectory is just me pursuing my interests. I was throwing parties and sneaking into clubs since high school so I dropped out of college to be a nightclub promoter. This didn’t last long. I was underage and got into all sorts of mischief. My parents wanted me to pursue a real career so I moved to New York in 2000 to work in book publishing. I got fired from my job and took a year off to immerse myself in the downtown scene. 9-11 happened and my unemployment ran out. To make ends meet, I fell back on a hobby I picked up during college—letterpress printing. I found work at a few print shops and eventually co-founded my own which remains open to this day. My first retail venture was Graymarket in 2012. It was a curated archive shop. Two of us spent an entire year sourcing the inventory. There’s a WWD piece you can Google that tells the whole story.
What do you think makes for a good retail experience? Similarly, what do you think goes into an interesting store?
Good product, tight curation and a knowledgeable staff. Merchandising is also very important. I’m drawn to intimate, minimalist concepts like the Cav Empt and Sacai flagships in Tokyo and EM PTY GALLERY in NYC. But, let’s be real, no retail experience is as satisfying as unboxing a new pair of sneakers or flexing on your friends in a heater runway piece.
How do you spend your downtime when you’re not at the shop?
Sharing memes with friends, surfing the web, reading and hanging out with my wife and dog.
What are your current favorite pieces in your closet?
I’ve worn the same J46 coat from Acronym for three winters in a row. I wear three styles of Kiko pants in different colors. My go-to accessories are all from Raf; I have faux pearl necklaces from him in black and white and a leather Eastpak to hold all my shit. I just broke out my new Rick hiking boots for this shoot. They’re destined to be a favorite and will get heavy wear this summer.
What are you excited to get into the shop, either this season or next?
This season is one of Raf’s strongest to date. I love our entire edit. Next season we’re introducing Kiko Kostadinov.
Is there anything in fashion that currently excites you?
I like what Ronnie Fieg is doing at Kith. I admire the work of independent retailers like Patron of the New, GR8, Machine-A, SSENSE and The Broken Arm. I’m happy to see expanded fashion content on Hypebeast and Highsnobiety. I enjoy watching Grailed grow and evolve. I think Idol gets better with each season, so that’s something that really excites me.
What’s your ultimate grail?
This one printed coat from the Raf Simons Sterling Ruby collection. You can see it in look 16/48 on Vogue. All the shops slept on it, including us. I also wouldn’t mind one of those Charles Manson tees from Ameba.