Exclusive Premiere: XXBC 'Collection 2' Video
Scroll through the hashtag #realnewyorkfriendstyle on Instagram and you’ll find a collection of photos that document personal style spotted on the streets of NYC. We’re not talking the latest runway looks donned by the street style stars that appear every fashion week—this is quite the opposite—real New Yorkers wearing some seriously rad (and sometimes hilarious) shit, carefully curated by Alex Lee, one of half of the duo behind emerging label XXBC. The hashtag reads like a mission statement for what he and design partner Will Thompson are looking to do: create clothing that reflects their very real New York experience. “Our friend once described XXBC as a ‘romantic look at the streets and street style,’” explains Alex. “It’s gritty, but kind of soft as well—it’s New York with our twist on it.”
The pair met a few years ago while attending Boston College, when they happened to be on the same train and Will admired Alex’s bag, quickly discovering their mutual appreciation of fashion and style (ed. note: these are two of the best dressed men I’ve met—insane style). After making the move to NYC—Will post-graduation and Alex when he transferred to FIT—they both began working at Opening Ceremony, but knew that they wanted to build their own brand.
They launched the line (pronounced Twenty B.C.) just over a year ago, working endless nights and weekends to get the side project off the ground—the true New York hustle. Their debut collection was a succinct representation of their aesthetic, featuring simple utilitarian silhouettes cut from grey fleece and customized with vintage fabrics. No two pieces in the collection were exactly the same. For their second effort, Alex and Will wanted to expand on their vision but keep it rooted in the same place: “We definitely want it to evolve each season, but we love having the grey fleece as our staple.”
Inspiration for their second collection struck while shooting their first video. “We were filming at our boy Rhamier’s house and Alex took a photo of his neighbor’s garage door that had this blue and white pattern on it,” Will remembers. “We were looking at the photo later and it gave us the idea for the pastel stripes in our new collection.” Construction workers also inspired their second set of designs, an influence that can be seen in the hyper masculine silhouettes, from jerseys and boxy sweatshirts to the oversized (and super cozy) parka. “We liked the idea of having masculine shapes cut in these soft, pastels like pink and blue and yellow, they’re basically baby colors,” notes Alex. “We liked having that contrast in the collection.”
They developed their own fabrics this time around, working closely with a factory in the garment district (the entire collection is produced in NYC). “We met this guy Larry through a friend—that’s pretty much how we’ve done everything, is asking friends,” says Will. “And we told him we wanted to make a striped fabric with the fleece. He told us we were crazy.” But they weren’t taking no for an answer. They insisted it could be done, and with Larry’s help, they were able to create the custom striped fabrics that are used throughout the collection. “I actually think Larry was really proud when we finally did it, and it makes each piece special and more complex, you’re not going to find that fabric anywhere else.”
For the look book and collection video, premiering here on MilkMade, Alex and Will wanted to play on the duality of the collection—masculine vs. feminine, hard vs. soft—think gangsters dressed in fleece the color of Jet-Puffed marshmallows. They even photographed each look on both a male and a female model highlighting the versatility of the collection. “You get a totally different vibe when you look at the photo of a guy wearing the clothes than when you see them on a girl,” they note. “And people always ask us about doing womenswear, so we wanted to show that this collection can be worn by women too—and it looks fly.”
With the second collection hitting Opening Ceremony stores this week (its sold exclusively at their New York and Los Angeles locations), Alex and Will are already thinking about the next step, but they’re not rushing into anything. “We’re growing slowly and organically, we want to make sure we’re putting out quality pieces that reflect what we want to say,” they point out. “It says on our website ‘We aren’t following a formula here,’ and it’s true—we’re just doing what feels right.” It’s working.