Champion of the style mash-up
Anyone would assume that a person who makes a living designing shoes would have a killer shoe closet. Floor-to-ceiling shelves of shoes, some sort of temple to the god of footwear. One would also expect to see plenty of his own handiwork, or at least a few prototypes, scattered about. But that is not the case with Swedish designer Alexis Holm.
Holm, who moved permanently to Hong Kong in 2009, has a thriving label called Gram. His designs are sold in Hong Kong exclusively at Squarestreet and are available worldwide through various e-tailers and bricks and mortar stores. The label got its name because the shoes' weights in grams are stitched on the sides as a design detail.
'I don't wear my own designs,' he says, surprising us by resisting the opportunity to plug his wares. 'By the time my shoes are in the stores, I am already over them and I am onto the next thing.'
Instead of his products, which he describes as a mash-up of dressed up and casual styles, Holm wears lace-up brogues with thick soles from Church's or pieces from Alden, Crockett & Jones, and Dr Martens. His shoes have a beaten up, worn quality, as if he can't be bothered to pay attention to what he wears on his feet. 'I was actually wearing a pair when I was painting my apartment, that's why there are splatters all over them,' he says.
Holm's wardrobe is not big in terms of size or quantity either. On the contrary, his is a modest single rail that holds most of his jackets and shirts, from brands such as Comme des Garcons, Gant and APC. There are a couple of drawers for his jeans and for the classic Chinese singlets and underwear from old labels such as Chrysanthemum, Cicada and Hing's. 'I just love this Chinese underwear, especially the boxers,' he says, showing off the packaging of the singlets that are a throwback to a bygone era.
'My wardrobe is small and compact. Everything has to fit together,' says the 33-year-old. 'As you get older your style is less diversified. You don't change as much, so you buy quality, coherent pieces.'
He shops at Lane Crawford and little-known boutiques such as Del in Wan Chai, a vintage outpost called Midwest in North Point, Take 5 in Tsim Sha Tsui, which sells a lot of Japanese labels doing American vintage style, and Moustache in Central.
'I like to buy clothes from brands that are authentic - those that are all about craftsmanship.'
Holm describes his style as classic, with just a slight flirtation with the military trend.
However, he is quick to point out that he does not pay attention to trends. 'I don't follow them slavishly. Once something becomes a trend, it's old. I like to be ahead of the curve.'