Let’s be honest, Hip-Hop as a music and a culture has pretty much taken over the world. Hip-Hop artists are the new bastions of cool, and if we may quote Yeezy himself, “Rappers are the new Rockstars.” All you have to do is look at today’s crop of rap stars. They are more likely to be rocking Givenchy or Balmain rather than some moderately priced streetwear brand. But something seems to have been omitted in translation between the street-level and these luxury brands located in bourgeois cities all over Europe. That’s where ALE ET ANGE comes into the picture and effectively bridges the gap. This NYC-based brand has a definite Hip-Hop DNA but effortlessly combines European and African influences into clothing and accessories fluent in both street & high fashion vernacular. It’s no surprise that the brand is staunchly supported by Hip-Hop style stalwarts like Pusha T and Yaasin Bey (aka Mos Def).
Read our interview with ALE ET ANGE’s founders below:
“Lack of originality, individuality and zero creativity plague menswear …”
Could you give some background on the origin of ALE ET ANGE and a brief brand description?
ALE ET ANGE was started by Osore Oyagha and Eloise Simonet in 2008.
Osore : I always knew I’d end up in fashion. My mom would tell you I started picking out my own clothes at 5. By 11 I was having my clothes made. Between 1996 and 2007 in one capacity or another, I worked for a number of fashion institutions including French Connection, Nicole Farhi, Joseph, Burberry, Comme Des Garçons, Barbara Bui, Yohji Yamamoto, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, YSL, Saks, Barney’s, Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang and so on. In 2002 I put myself on a timetable – by 2007 I had planned to be running my own label. Eloise and I met and became an item in 2005 – during which time we discussed starting the brand together. Eventually we parted but decided to stick to the plan.
I would describe ALE ET ANGE as a European label with an American accent. A modern day luxury fashion brand for the Hip-hop generation. Most of our fabrics and materials are imported from Europe and Japan. The fashion audience has evolved over the years. The streets have always been an underline influence on fashion. Today fashion is all about the streets as a direct result of the consumer. I like to describe ALE ET ANGE as the brand for anyone but not for everyone.
What is the philosophy behind your brand and where does your inspiration usually come from?
Osore : I personally don’t like dressing like anyone – so the main philosophy behind ALE ET ANGE is creating unique, high quality, stylish clothing with focus on everyday wear-ability. Dressy bordering casual. Fabrics, materials and construction are key. I want the wearer to have street edge, command attention in an elegant manner, appear modern and sophisticated, stand apart, ooze sex appeal, and make it seem effortless – all in one breath.
Inspiration comes primarily from imagination, nostalgia, the streets and sexual instinct.
What niche are you trying to fill or occupy in the world of fashion?
Rap has conquered the planet so street wear appears to be a major theme in fashion these days. Most higher end fashion houses are trying to connect with the Hip-hop generation. ALE ET ANGE, being of the Hip-hop generation is not a street wear label but we are street aware designers. This sets us apart from other brands and puts us in our own unique space.
What aspirations do you have for ALE ET ANGE? Are there any other brands that inspire you or that you view as a great example for what you are trying to be/do?
Helmut Lang and Yves Saint Laurent are my favorite designers. I had the opportunity to work for both companies. They inspire me, as do most of the other big name labels – to become a house hold name brand. The idea of brands like Chanel and Hermes inspire us to keep pushing the quality limits.
How would you describe the quintessential ALE ET ANGE costumer?
Stylish, intelligent, confident, independent/free-thinking, feminine, masculine, gay, straight, fun, sexually appealing and bold. 99% of our business comes from repeat customers. Once you own ALE ET ANGE you’re hooked.
What in your view is the biggest thing wrong with fashion these days?
In the States I’d say lack of originality, individuality and zero creativity plague men’s wear. The American fashion industry is mainly driven by commerce – which in a sense could be positive or negative depending on your views.
What in your view is the biggest thing right with fashion these days?
That a brand like ALE ET ANGE can still exist proves that good shite, hard work and kahunas could still amount to something in today’s climate. In a time when most brands are paying exorbitant amounts on press/promotion and celeb endorsement – we’ve managed to create a brand that can sell itself.
Fabrics used in your products have a vivid African influence, is this theme going to continue into the future?
We use African fabrics primarily in making hats and lining bags. We’ll keep using it until we get bored. My mom has been in the fabric business for over 30 years so we have loads to choose from.
Many celebrities wear your apparel – is there a monumental moment when you saw someone famous donning one of your items that gave you the sense that you are likely moving in the right direction and you had good momentum as a brand?
Not especially. We have managed to garner a loyal celeb fanbase who have no problem shelling out their hard earned bucks for our products. Quite a bit of thought, time, energy and calculation goes into creating ALE ET ANGE. We appreciate the fact that celebrities purchase and support the brand. But judging from my past experiences with other brands – I foresaw this being the case going into it. The focus from jump street was and remains to create attention grabbing, star worthy apparel.
Who (dead or alive) would you like (or have liked) to see wearing your items? What particular item would that be?
We’re happy with all those wearing our pieces at present. Eventually, we would like to see more people wearing the stuff. No item in particular just the clothing in general. I for one always love seeing pretty chics in the hats.
If you had to pick a song to be the theme song for ALE ET ANGE or a song that embodies the brand, what would it be?
Stuntin’ by GADZILLA.
What is the most difficult thing about your industry and/or business? What makes it all worth it?
The most difficult thing in any business is not having enough money to conveniently operate. Having a vision that cannot be properly supported by your bank balance is a nightmare. Seeing that you can continue to make it happen regardless of which tends to give one mountain moving strength.
When you are going through hard times as a brand or business, what do you use as a muse or mechanism to get back into the saddle and ride on?
To be honest I sit back and observe – see what everyone else is doing. Whether people know it and/or chose to admit it or not – we have had an influence on today’s fashion scene and street culture. Michael Jordan had always been an exceptional ball player flying under the radar of most. But the free-throw line dunk got many to notice he possessed un-human like ability. That moment redefined sports, the game of basketball and arguably made the Jordan brand. In more ways than one ALE ET ANGE is the first of it’s kind. We remain resilient, patient and know that our time will come.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming designers who want to be in your position one day?
I’ll advice anyone not to be in my position and suggest that they have boat loads of doe. If not, better be better than good. And if you’re black, well then better be better than the best.
Which one of your items do you think everyone on the planet should own? What is the best and easiest way to find and purchase Ale Et Ange apparel?
If you wear hats you should own at least 5.
If you wear tees you should own a t shirt.
If you wear ties you should own a few.
If you wear jeans you should own a pair or 2.
If you wear shirts etc, etc.
For the time being – aleetange.com
When you hear the phrase “life is short”, what does that mean to you?
Do it now, cause there is no better time than the present.
When we as fans think about the brand Ale Et Ange, what three words do you want us to always envision?
Dope as fuck.
For more information, visit www.aleetange.com