What’s the first thing that comes to mind, when you think of the words “Saint Mark’s Place”? Yeah, us too. One of New York’s most inciting streets was once home to the beatniks, hippies, and ‘70s punks. Being the street that provides shelter for musicians, outcasts, fans, and mutants is not an easy job. Not everything in NYC can survive riots, demolition, graffiti, Chipotles, and explosions.
It was also once home to Matthew Williams’ first studio for his brand ALYX, before relocating to Italy. But just as the impression of St. Mark’s place is cauterized in your imagination’s forefront, Williams’ keeps the street’s inspiration alive in the brands DNA (literally lighter caps found on the street were embedded into fabric) in his first sneaker collab with Vans. Remember when your parents wouldn’t buy you that punk band shirt? What do you do? You drew the name of the band all over your Vans they just bought you instead. It’s this exact spirit and Williams’ love for music that is kickin’ alive in today’s exclusive sneaker drop.
Below Humberto Leon chats with Matthew Williams about NYC skate videos, fatherhood, and designing his very-first shoe with Vans.
HUMBERTO LEON: Matt, we have known each other for almost fourteen years now. It's been very exciting to see your career develop and grow into ALYX. What part of being in New York has influenced the brand?
MATTHEW WILLIAMS: It’s crazy right?! Fourteen years ...wow... I remember the many times hanging out with you at Sway. So fun. That time in my life had an enormous influence on me creatively. New York in general has forever been a source of inspiration to me. I used to watch NYC skate videos when I was growing up in California I would dream of the time I could move to New York. Our [ALYX’s] first office was on St. Mark’s Place—really the brand’s birthplace. You can see the street’s influence all the way down to small details like the crust punk lighter caps, we used them as trim on our hoodies and I love it so much [Saint Mark’s Place] is written on all our labels.
You were Lady Gaga's creative director at one point and those were incredible moments for Gaga. Has any of that experience influenced your expression at ALYX?
Thank you for the kind words. Working with Lady Gaga allowed me to have a platform to push boundaries. I also learned to collaborate with really amazing artists and creatives. Those experiences have stayed with me to this day and inform how I approach many things creatively.