WWD Fashion Director Alex Badia Reveals Biggest Misconception in Men’s Fashion

With a knack for fashion and a keen understanding of the industry, the Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) style director who hails from Barcelona is responsible for overseeing all shoots for men’s and women’s fashion, accessories and beauty. Known for his work with Balenciaga, Calvin Klein and POLO Ralph Lauren to name but a few, he’s done it all in the world of fashion. So whether its editorial shoots, trend spotting or managing one of the industries leading publications, there’s one thing for sure – he’s is a New Yorker by profession, but Spanish at heart.


1.) To start, tell us a little bit about how you got your start in fashion.

I don’t think there’s a short answer there. I mean, I initially never went to fashion school, I went to business school. I grew up in Spain, but fashion was all around me in London and Paris while I was growing up. I had a very international education. I was surrounded by an environment of highly fashionable subcultures to which I was very reactive. I just didn’t realize it until I got a bit older. I finished my business degree and then got my first job at a multi-national magazine and I came to New York. By then, I had been exposed to a lot of shoots through a lot of my friends as they worked in London. I just didn’t think that, I mean I wasn’t clear on how to make money. I just thought it was my hobby that I was fashion obsessed. When I got into my late teens, it became very clear that I had very specific opinions and when I got to New York, I just started my fashion career. So when I got there, my friend told me that I just had to go to FIT. So, I went there at night and studied fashion. And really quickly I got a job with WWD the first time as an assistant. Then, it just became a highway really quickly. All of those years as a teenager being surrounded by very interesting and influential people that had become successful in there own right in fashion, it really gave me a lot of education. From there I grew in the industry really quickly.

2.) As a style director for one of the industries leading publications, describe what a typical day on the job is like for you.

OK. So I’m going to explain how my day was yesterday and how my day is today. Yesterday, I was in Prospect Park in Brooklyn shooting the new take on plaid trends for a womenswear designers. We shot brands like Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen and Burberry. It was a full on fashion shoot in the park. While I was there, I was editing the story with the team. I was also preparing for the shoot that I am doing today consisting of fine jewelry and watches. For it, again we are focused on trends for a special section. At the same time I oversee all of the covers. So, while I am at a shoot working on the actual shoot, I always have to be multi-tasking while either another casting is hoping for an upcoming story, or another concept cover that I need to approve, or even a proof from an illustrator. We’re shooting Annette Bening in LA on Monday. And because my schedule is so crazy, I can’t go. So I hired Cristina Ehrlich that is a very well known stylist from The Wall Group in LA. We approved concepts and we spoke to Annette Bening’s people. She’s scheduled to get an Oscar nomination, so we’re jumping early and quickly. The good and the bad about WWD is the frequency and the multidimensional reach. A lot of Hollywood people read us, so we need to feed that kind of reader and then the fashion insiders, the accessories people and the beauty people. Tomorrow I have a beauty shoot and I’m preparing for that too. So, it is sort of all consuming – a 24-hour a day thing. I oversee the concept and creation of every single market. I am also in depth with both the menswear and womenswear markets. I get bored really quickly, so I avoid that by having a job that allows me to multi-task. The closer I am to the eye of the storm, the more creative I am. So I need to be very busy.

3.) What’s your favorite part about being a style director? What do you think is the biggest misconception about men’s fashion?

What I like the most about being a style director to be honest with you is being a part of the conversation. I think a lot of the people that have my job or similar jobs have the same abilities and understanding of how to process trends within the bigger environment of culture and society. What I like the most is that I can be part of the larger conversation in fashion through every angle. We work at times with the Kardashians at times because we understand what they bring to the table, but we also work with the most niche designers behind the scenes. So we can go really large or really small. And we treat both with the same respect because that a way to have a very influential point of view in regards to the conversation.

When it comes to menswear, I think there are many misconceptions. At times, it’s very difficult to understand. I think it’s more complicated than womenswear because it’s very difficult to reach the menswear non-fashion consumer. Some brands have those guys. But to engage them, influence them and to teach them to be more style sensitive, it’s a huge challenge. I think that some brands have thought that they’ll do whatever they have to do for womenswear because it’s the larger part of he business and then they’ll apply that to menswear too. That’s why you see brands eliminating their menswear shows, jobs disappearing and you see L’Uomo Vogue folding. You see things like that because I think they put more interest into womenswear and they think that they put whatever’s left into menswear. That leaves a big chunk of the money not on the table. Menswear is much more complicated. You can not have the same people that do womenswear doing menswear and think that that is going to attract their attention. It doesn’t work that way at all. A menswear consumer is very complicated and they both react to things differently. The misconception that once you have a loyal consumer, you have them for life, I think it’s way more complicated than that if you really want to engage the male non-fashion consumer. It’s just very difficult to engage them. The lack of vision of some key people is dangerous.

4.) Describe your personal sense of style. Then, please describe your creative process and sources of inspiration?

Without knowing it, my dad had a very strong influence on the way I dressed. You know, he always wore suits and ties. At dinner he was very elegant gentleman born in 1930 during the civil war of Spain. He took a lot of pride in dressing nicely. My grandfather from my mother’s side that I never met was a furrier from Paris and the south of Italy in the early 1900s. The assortment of pictures that I have of him really influenced me. My grandad was very known for wearing Belted coats and fedora hats. Something happened through the process of me dressing very casually. My dad was very traditional and I was very non-traditional, very street athletic into early 90s London fashion. When I got a little older and I got understand my dad, it all clicked in my mind. When I stopped fighting it, it became like a message of unity. It was basically like a lot of early 1900s dressing with a bit of 50s, very infused with a bit of street and athletics which was the core. I really grew up in the environment of 90s London style with my friends. That blend of those elements defined who I am.

In terms of my creative process, it’s difficult to define. I still have very strong visual references in my mind. I don’t remember a single name, but I remember a lot of the pictures I see in my everyday life. I don’t even know what affects me anymore. I just take pictures of a lot of things I see with my phone. Most of the time I don’t look back at those pictures, but sometimes I do. To explain it a bit better, I see everything around me in black & white while everything is frozen. Then, all of the sudden I see something around me that moves and it’s in color and I’m gravitated towards it. It could be an image, someone in the street, a look on a runway, a TV show. All of those images I see differently and I’m very attracted to those moments and I try to grab them. Those are the moments that are my influences. I also have a big bank of images in my mind from 80s, 90s fashion shoots. For example, I can’t avoid being very influenced by Steven Meisel’s Vogue grunge shoot that happened in the early 90s for the Perry Ellis x Marc Jacobs collection. Yesterday, that really influenced me when I was working on the plaid story. It was also mixed with traditions, plaids, school uniforms … it’s basically a mix of stories I put together in my mind.

Alex Badia shot by Adam Katz Sinding
Alex Badia shot by Adam Katz Sinding

5.) List your favorite for each of the following (State one for each unless otherwise stated):

Favorite Fashion City: Fashion Week Paris, London Street Style mixed with a sparkle of Seoul, Korea. I’m very interested in subcultures.Having a bit of that reference in your style goes a long way.

Favorite Menswear Accessory or Clothing Item: The perfect navy/black t-shirt. It’s very difficult to find the perfect t-shirt.

Favorite Sports Car: Any boxy 90s Mercedes or 70s Volvo

Favorite Travel Destination: Going back home to Barcelona

Favorite Song: I have to ask my self that question every day. It’s very difficult for me to tell you. I have a few … Depeche Mode has good songs that I like. I was super into Pet Shop Boys growing up in London. It’s super hard for me to answer. Certain songs can be dangerous b/c of how they make me feel. Music is the biggest catalyst for me. But I have many different favorite songs to be honest.

Favorite Color for Fall/Spring: Midnight Blue. I think a lot of other colors are emotionally exhausting to wear. Black requires more commitment than Midnight Blue. I like to be free in what I’m wearing. At the end of the day, Midnight Blue allows me to do that.

6.) Name two of your favorite trends from the FW17 and SS18 men’s collections.

FW17 – I always like the dramatic outerwear top-coats with military influences. I also like the variety of plaids worn with a return to more traditional styling.

SS18 – For spring, I love the oversized, boxy blazer from the younger designers like Martin Rose, Raf Simmons and Juun J. I think it’s very interesting. I also really like the Louis Vuitton show that had the new take on 90s Hawaiian shirts.

7.) What are your favorite fashion events to attend each year?

For the fall show in Paris, I went to the Rick Owens show where he did a crazy, crazy, crazy video. I just loved it. I do very, very well in industrial, hole-in-the wall environments rather than at uptown events.

Rick Owen’s FW17 Runway Show “Glitter”

I also like summer fashion week in London. For me, I liked the Raf Simons show inspired by Blade Runner where I was standing next to Marc Jacobs and A$AP Rocky and I introduced them. It was one of those surreal moments.

Raf Simons’ Blade runner Inspired SS18 Runway Show

8.) List three (3) fashion items that no man should live without.

– A perfect black t-shirt
– An incredible top-coat
– A retro white sneaker (Reebok) or any brand with retro elements

9.) Name three menswear trends your seeing on the streets of New York, Milan and Paris.

– Overly baggy pants & 90s Denim
– Denim Truckers Jacket
– The return of the head-to-toe suit with exaggerated proportions done in plaid from head-to-toe or worn with a leather jacket or oversized tie. Something a bit-more subversive.
– An overall movement towards dressing up more

10.) Finally, in five years time, where do you see your career and men’s fashion taking us?

You know, I’ve changed. I used to think about that all of the time, but I don’t care about that anymore. It has become an oxymoron in-in of itself. I just care about today. I think there are enough uncertainties in today to not have to think about tomorrow. You should too.

WWD’s Men’s Fashion Director Alex Badia speaks to Calvin Klein Collection Men’s Creative Director, Italo Zucchelli about the 2016 Spring Men’s RTW collection.

Alex and Co. at WWD Serve Up the Top 5 Trends From the Men’s Spring 2018 Collections

Hero Image by Adam Katz Sinding

Kyle Johnson

Kyle Johnson is a writer, web designer and former senior editor for ODDA magazine, a glossy 500+ page high fashion magazine. In addition to his work for ODDA, he is also a freelance writer for LAB A4 and a creative director for various projects across various industries where he specializes in branding, identity and visual strategy. He is also the founding editor of PLOY.

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