AT HOME AND AT WORK WITH ERNEST ALEXANDER SABINE
The NYC-based menswear designer gives us a tour of his sprawling Chelsea loft - once a printing press, turned residential cabaret.
This summer marked the fifth anniversary of Ernest Alexander's eponymous menswear label - a brand founded from a single messenger bag.
Ernest Alexander Sabine, a former ad executive and then student, struggled to find a suitable 'everyday' bag - one with polish and style, but nothing too delicate. An ongoing and unfulfilled search, he decided to create one of his own - a simple messenger made from a durable waxed canvas and handcrafted leather accents.
Five years later, the brand has grown into a full line of leather accessories, a ready-to-wear collection, a brick-and-mortar store in Soho, and a GQ nod for 'Best New Menswear Designer in America.' But despite the company's success, its progress hasn't always met the founder's expectations. "I made a brand book when I started, and I found it in the basement the other day. It's funny to look back at what my goals were - how fast I thought things were going to grow." Perhaps unrealistic at times, those lofty ambitions continue to drive the brand forward - a rare momentum in an industry where success is generally fleeting.
With the company's growth, Ernest's tastes as a designer have evolved alongside. Once deeply rooted in a classic, heritage aesthetic, Ernest Alexander has started to become "a little more posh," the designer says laughingly.
Experimenting with new colors and patterns, while sticking to more classic silhouettes, the brand has come to reflect its diverse set of customers - which includes everyone from conservative gents, to the trendy street wear set.
We better understood Ernest's range of design sensibilities after visiting both his NoMad studio and Chelsea home. The studio is broodingly masculine, abound with dark woods and aged leather, but his home is considerable more playful - color generously strewn throughout, and his two children embraced within the space. Referring to the dining table which doubles as the family's art studio, "It's covered with markers and coffee rings," he admits. "At first we tried really hard to keep it clean, but then decided to let it take on a character of its own." This type of irreverence is enhanced by self-made artworks that mimic the accidental scribblings on the table, alongside a series of vintage boat replicas and boldly re-upholstered furniture. It's a definite departure from how we've come to know the designer through his brand, but an endearing side of his personality we're happy to have discovered.