Interview With Steven Alan: On His New Store In The Hamptons, Another Birthday, And What It Means To Be A "Hipster Icon"

by CARSON GRIFFITH · May 29, 2009

[Happy Birthday Steven Alan!]

Pop-up shops seem to be... well, popping up all over the place this summer. But one we're really excited about is Steven Alan's beachy casual boutique, located on 52 Newton Lane, in East Hampton. The larger-than-life designer literally does it all (showroom manager, jet-setter, dad) - including opening up a store in three days. No wonder he was struggling to hold on to his voice by the time I got him on the phone yesterday. After meeting him on Sunday, it was a pleasure talking to him again - the guy who has been called a "hipster icon", and designer I've been following since I went in search of the perfect button down, is about as laid-back and cool as his clothing. Here he talks to G of G about the pop-up shop, his Hampton favorites, his Birthday, and just about everything else in between.

Everyone's talking about your new East Hampton summer pop-up store.

Is everyone talking about it?


I thought you guys just were.

No! We want to know everything. Tell us the story behind it. Is it true you signed the lease on Wednesday and opened on Saturday?

It is.

How is that possible?

It's very, very hard actually. You have to visualize the store, you have to merchandise the store, you have to brand the store, you have to promote the store. That's why my voice is the way it is right now. We had a fantastic little group, here and in the city. But that's how we got it done.

(The store envisions the casual laidback feel Alan is known for, while epitomizing a beachy, summer feel. Picture from Refinery29.)

So are there really furnishings from your basement there?

Since it's a pop-up shop we didn't really want to spend a lot of money on the store, we just went through the basement and what we brought, I picked up a lot of things along the way and at warehouses.

Your basement must have had some pretty great stuff in it. What kind of stuff specifically can we say 'Oh, that's from Steven Alan's basement'?

Ha,ha. The cases where the jewelry are, are from the basement, the lockers, the tables, the cubbies, let's see what else... an army stretcher!

[An insider's view of the new store]

What else can we expect to find in the Newton Lane store besides clothing?

Blankets, jewelry, watches, bathing suits, candles, towels, rocking chairs soon.

Any special pieces or items in the East Hampton store that can't be bought anywhere else or that are limited edition?

Yeah, things that can only be purchased there like the towels, the women's things, the bathing suits.

I, along with the rest of the Guest of a Guest crew, want to say thanks again for letting us help you celebrate your Birthday over Memorial Day weekend once you finished setting up shop. Besides the Spongebob Squarepants cupcakes, did you do anything else special to celebrate?

I had lunch with [my friends] David and Jen that day, and dinner back in the city with some friends. I'm going to LA on Saturday, so I might do something with the staff there. Not a huge Birthday party person.

What's your favorite thing to do when you're out in the Hamptons?

Biking along the beach, getting tacos, hanging out with people. It's a different vibe then when you're in the city.

What's you're favorite thing to do with your son? [Steven's son Max, is 7 years old]

My son stays with me every other weekend, so we do play dates with other kids, go out in the summertime, go to the beach, sometimes there's this spa we go to, the pool.

And most importantly, what's your favorite summer cocktail?

Like... a vodka lemonade?

(We're sure he needed a few of those after perfectly putting together a store in three days. Picture from Refinery29.)

When you originally came up with the idea of the "perfect shirt" for your line, and the boyfriend type shirt for girls, what did you have in mind?

I've always thought it was cute, sexy when girls wore that type of shirt. I was never into the really sexy things for girls. The perfect shirt for him, I just wanted to make what I couldn't find for myself, what I wanted to wear. So when deciding on a line I was I want to make this, I want to make this and other stores and customers liked it so I was like - ok!

You have five International stores in Korea; do you see yourself opening up any other International stores anytime soon?

I do a lot for this other Japanese company Lacquer, and the line is called Lacquer for Steven Alan.

So do you want to focus primarily on Asian countries for now for expansion?

No - I think London would be great, Australia would be great, lots of other countries would be great. And on our website we ship internationally also.

I love your Uniqlo line. I live in my black romper from there you designed. Can you tell us your thought process behind that collaboration?

They approached me several years ago and I wasn't sure. But the quality is really good, and they do a lot of different styles compared to a lot of other chains of stores. And it was really professional, they have a really strong team, they could execute what they wanted. I looked at the other designers that they worked with that I respected.

What's your favorite piece you designed for the collection?

Beige dress with a criss-cross back, and buttons down the front.

Congratulations on being nominated for the CFDA's Men Designer of the Year last year. That must have been so exciting.

I didn't even have to do anything! GQ orchestrated the models, the space, everything - I just had to give them my collection. Going forward I don't know, we'll probably have a presentation, which will be the first time we'll do that.

Do you think you'll ever have a full-blown runway show?

Now yet, I can't really even see myself having a presentation! But I can see myself having other collaborations and projects. I'm known for doing particular things well. I tend to do particular things well.

Is there one big upcoming project for you?

I tend to do a lot of projects at the same time... one thing kind of leads to the next.

And for the sake of my wardrobe, I hope it leads to many other projects and collaborations. Steven, let us know next time you're back out here. We might not be very good bakers, but we'll find out where to get the best cupcakes for you!

Looking to snag some Steven Alan of your own but won't be heading out to the East End anytime soon? He has five Manhattan locations, including the Upper West Side, Tribeca, West Village, Nolita, and Brooklyn. For exact addresses, or to shop online, check out more Steven Alan info here: