Alex & Eli is a label dedicated to creating intelligent suiting for women. With clean, tailored silhouettes and unexpected detailing, these mix & match suits are a fusion of modern elegance with iconic masculinity. This label provides an urban sartorial wardrobe to a woman of confidence and individual beauty. Her look is effortless, yet distinctive. Her look is Alex & Eli.
Alex & Eli is the collaboration of Parsons graduates, Anna Zeman and Aja Singer. It draws from their work with Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen, Carolina Herrera, Rodarte, and Chado Ralph Rucci, as well as their obsession with quality and the science of perfect fit.
The Fashion Spot: Tell me a little about your background – what did you study and how did you meet one another and start collaborating?
Alex & Eli: We both actually began our academic careers studying science with the intention of becoming doctors. We realized during our undergraduate studies that we were truly missing the creative aspect in our prospective careers in the medical profession, so after finishing our degrees we both moved to New York to attend Parsons, where we met.
We really bonded in school because we're both very hard working – you start to notice another person when you two are the only ones who show up to class 20 minutes early every morning! After we realized that we both had similar backgrounds in the sciences, things just sort of clicked.
During school we both held a number of very defining internships: Anna interned under Rodarte in California, as well as holding an apprenticeship with Chado Ralph Rucci. Aja interned at Marc Jacobs, Carolina Herrera, and did pattern-making at Zac Posen. We were both very aggressive about our internships during school and realized that the opportunity of working under such incredible designers would have a strong impact on our own design approach. This is really what acted as the catalyst for us deciding to collaborate with one another.
It was the first day of our last semester in school, and we found ourselves sitting on a stoop waiting for class to begin and Anna said to Aja “Why don’t we just start our own label?” and Aja responded “Why not!” We kept the discussion going all semester long and upon graduating, we immediately began working together to co-found Alex & Eli.
TFS: How do your styles differ when it comes to producing a collection?
A&E: We have a lot of core similarities in many aspects, but there are definitely varying approaches that we both take in order to reach final designs. Anna tends to be very experimental and always pushes to invent something new, while Aja masters the form and fit and is very intuitive about texture and balance. We have worked so closely together for almost two years now, so at this point we find it very easy to combine each other’s strengths within a singular garment, to give it something special and make it our own.
TFS: What is the most difficult part about producing your collections? Do you think about commercial suitability, or do you take a lot of risks?
A&E: The most difficult part is toning down all over our really amazing and creative ideas. We are not only designers, but also business owners and sometimes we would rather wear the former hat all day rather than the latter! We want to do and invent so much, but it is also very important to us that our client can follow and transform with the collection. We're definitely major risk-takers and usually push the limits in both palette and form, but at the end of the day we just want to be sure that we are giving the Alex & Eli girl something that has incredible fit and attention to detail; we try to find that perfect balance between our client’s needs and our imaginations.
TFS: What are some of your signature pieces?
A&E: Our signature pieces would probably be our Fox Hunt Blazer and our Trouser Pant. The blazer is something we worked on for over three seasons to perfect. It has such an amazing fit and such ridiculous amount of details that one really doesn’t need much more of anything in their wardrobe to create a perfect outfit. It is complex (the pattern is a monster), yet very easy to wear, and the attention to detail inside and out really makes it our favorite piece.
TFS: What is your favorite spot in New York for shopping? Do you have a favorite boutique?
A&E: We go everywhere, but the truth of the matter is that after working so diligently on our own collection with such a fine tuned eye and such devotion to having everything made in New York, that we now find it is often difficult to shop! We really love Kirna Zabette and are also huge fans of Opening Ceremony.
TFS: Where can buy your collections?
TFS: What tips can you offer aspiring emerging designers?
A&E: Work very hard. It is a wonderful industry to be a part of, but one must work very diligently. Also, never doubt yourself. If you have a dream, just go for it because the rewards are very satisfying!
All images courtesy of Alex & Eli