Meet ALCH, the Brand Turning Nike Gear Into Luxe DIY Steez
While polymathic creative practitioner and Insta-it girl Alexandra Hackett was earning a fashion degree back in her native Australia, she quietly garnered a cult internet following for her uncanny ability to craft streetwear from IKEA bags, retail security tags and NASA foil blankets.
Alexandra used her @MiniSwoosh Instagram persona to experiment with the functionality of sportswear, repurposing deadstock Nike goods and discarded textiles into functional-yet-steezy outfits and, needless to say, it blew up.
Alexandra has since graduated, moved to London and launched her namesake label, ALCH, and it’s basically a logomaniac’s dream with a high-fashion, tongue-in-cheek twist. ALCH is dedicated to exploring “the body as a product and clothing as a form of product packaging,” says the designer.
With a non-seasonal approach to fashion, both the designer and her own unique design code defy convention, but her unapologetic love for Nike remains unfazed. Recently, Nike tapped her for a freelance consultant position and also invited the designer to submit a design for the Nike on the Vote Forward campaign.
Today, the designer is dropping a special capsule collection made up of custom Nike products, crafted from Nike duffel bags, socks, drawstring bags, and Air Max tape etc exclusively with Highsnobiety. You can see the editorial here, and shop the collection right now. Be quick though, as pieces are very limited.
The entire range will also be on display as part of an exhibition in collaboration with NikeLab Shanghai at Shanghai Fashion Week.
We caught with up the designer to delve deeper into her process and find out why she loves hacking sportswear to challenge the ways in which the industry approaches sustainability and more.
Where did the MiniSwoosh moniker come from?
Technically speaking, the Mini Swoosh is the tiny embroidered Swoosh that first appeared on the side of the Nike Air Max 1 in 1997. Using the name Mini Swoosh for my personal Instagram handle emerged after discussions with a friend of mine – we were obsessed with the subtle branding and almost exclusivity of the symbol. It seemed a fitting choice for an Instagram dedicated purely to curated Nike content and custom Nike product.
You gained a following online before you even graduated for bridging this intersection between fashion and literal trash. How have you and your brand developed since those early days?
The origins of ALCH started off very experimental and light-hearted – one of the first pieces I ever developed was that IKEA bucket hat made from IKEA bags in early 2014. Since then, my design ethos has changed considerably to become much more considered, methodical and functionality-based.
Talks us through some of the pieces in this new drop. Any particular favorites and which was the most meticulous when it came to process/execution?
Reinterpreting Nike product is an ongoing project that I’ve curated in collaboration with my alternate Instagram account @miniswoosh. This shoot was conducted to reference the first stage of my this exploration.
Unfortunately, not all the pieces are available — only the gilet and the dungarees — and only a small number will be produced. Both these pieces are created from an assortment of deconstructed Nike accessories from the Brasilia range. Each piece is made to order and has unique design lines.
What do you love about reinterpreting sportswear?
Sportswear is incredibly honest — every design line, construction technique, and fabrication have a specific function to the final garment.
You take a strong position on sustainability, re-using materials that would otherwise be disposed of. Why is it so important to you?
I think there’s a general consensus that most products have a specific lifespan and singular function despite this not necessarily being the truth. I’m really interested in questioning these elements and exploring how a product can be reinvented so as to delay its hypothetical use-by date.
Streetwear is often classified as a boy’s club, so how do you think your brand is re-setting the agenda?
I’m a huge advocate for creating space for women to push their skills and work in the streetwear industry because I think it’s really important for women to have a voice, be respected and, most importantly, to be taken seriously.
I hope that, through ALCH, one of the results is to really question some of the gender stereotypes that exist, so females in this scene are not just seen as “streetwear mannequins”.
You once said your dream collaboration would be with Nike, so now you’ve crossed that off have you thought about what’s next?
I think it’s still to collaborate with Nike, but on a tangible level now. Working with Nike on the Vote Forward campaign was an incredible opportunity, and such a dream come true, however, unfortunately, no product gets released. A concept is all well and good, but I think accessibility and availability of product play incredible importance, especially in the streetwear industry.
Do you see ALCH as a polymathic creative entity more than a fashion brand, and would you ever crossover into other artistic industries, like furniture or product design?
100 percent. ALCH “the brand”, is only one entity of my practice — it references the final products that are created through my work. My ethos is applicable to all areas of design and it’s constantly developing. I’m currently working on a large piece of furniture at the moment.
Want to know even more about ALCH? Revisit our Q&A with the designer on her “Air Mini Swoosh” Sneaker Concept.