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Alex Mill is the kind of deceptively simple brand that actually takes a lot of thought and know-how to produce. The label is a go-to for folks who like their fashion with a lower-case "f." It has notes of preppy in it—with casual, colorful, staples you can bank on—but it has a more modern attitude than anything that can be described as Preppy with a capital "P." Much of that is down to its color palette of earthy naturals, much of them garment-dyed to give new garments a slightly lived-in feeling before you lay hands on them. One of its best-sellers is a very un-preppy washed cotton jumpsuit that comes in a variety of colors for men and women.
This week, the brand unveiled a capsule collection in collaboration with Parisian vintage specialist Paul Ben Chemhoun, who presides over Brut. Brut is both a vintage store and a much bigger archive of painstakingly sourced vintage pieces that are definitely not for sale but accessible for short-term rent to international fashion brands looking for a little extra authentic inspiration. It has a growing reputation for getting imaginative with vintage, too. A couple of years ago, under its own Rework label, it transformed a couple of hundred lightweight nylon sleeping bags from the '60s into “Himalayan” down jackets. They were strongly reminiscent of ancient expedition parkas. And by the nature of their unusual provenance, they were also a little lumpy—which is precisely what made them perfect. Elsewhere, Rework offers white cotton pants patchworked from recycled U.S. Mint coin bags, tank tops made from old tactical mesh scarves, and Barbour and Ralph Lauren jackets that are disassembled and then re-sewn in patchworked waxed cotton or corduroy.
For Somsack Sikhounmuong, Alex Mill’s creative director who joined founder Alex Drexler in 2019 and engineered the Brut collab, the tie-up was both a chance thing and entirely logical. “My favorite jeans, my favorite military jackets are always vintage,” he explains. “There’s always been this crossover thing to have elements of vintage in the store alongside Alex Mill. It’s how I always dress. Everyone in the store is of the same mindset.” And Sikhounmuong has known Brut for some time. “I’d been buying things from them on and off for a while, even things that didn’t fit, you know, just to have them. We saw them last October in Paris and I bought a bunch more stuff and we came back and I thought, ‘Why don’t we reach out to see if they would do something?’ And they jumped at it. I pretty much let them figure out what they wanted to do. They took the idea and ran with it.”
The Brut x Alex Mill co-branded capsule features—in relatively short supply—a handful of pieces imagined in a similar framework to Rework, albeit in Mill’s cleaner aesthetic. Cropped work jackets are made from upcycled tent cloth in yellow or blue with contrast white stitching and white nylon zippers. There are also tote bags in four colors, all of which are customized with a range of sew-on patches created specially by Brut to add a little personalized flavor to it all.
The collection is available online but also at Alex Mill’s two stores in New York City, one in Soho and one on Madison Avenue, which are carrying the capsule displayed along with about 100 one-off vintage pieces for sale from Brut's archives, the first time any Brut vintage pieces have been available outside France. If you're interested, don't hesitate; this stuff will likely sell fast.
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