Austin Wong is just like everybody else: he puts his pants on one leg at a time. But his pants are better than everybody else’s pants. As is the rest of his outfit. In fact, the last place in the world we’d ever want to be is next to Austin Wong in a photograph. We don’t stand out; we just make him look better. Wong is mens fashion’s wunderkind, a muse, a maven, and above all, a mensch. We were honored to sit down with him (we sat opposite him – never beside).
What is the most precious object you own?
The only things I truly find precious are my family, friends, memories and experiences. I still love my first Thom Browne suit; an all-year glen plaid suit. The fabric looks like any other glen plaid but it wears like iron. I wore it for years until finally, the back of the pants ripped open. I thought to myself, “Why not turn this into a shorts suit?” A trip to the tailor one week later, and the suit was transformed into a staple piece that I now wear all summer long.
What were the last four phone calls you placed?
To Michael Phillips Moskowitz, then his mother, a local car service, and a nondescript hotel.
Didn’t you just finish high school?
Seems like ages ago. I’ve since been to Europe a dozen times for fashion week(s), and traveled to all sorts of places to write and blog about clothing. I guess time flies.
Your first (or last) run-in with the authorities. Out with it.
A few years ago, I threw a plastic soda bottle on to the tracks of a subway platform. I thought nothing of it but was approached by a cop. The officer explained to me that the litter on the tracks can cause track fires. I asked him the last time he actually saw a track fire; he didn’t respond, unless you consider a costly citation a “response”.
Speaking of arrests (or ‘arresting’), what have you seen this season that really shook you out of the slumber of the ordinary?
J.W. Anderson is the one show that surprised me this season. The collection was filled with graphic intarsia knit sweaters, topcoats, double-breasted trenches, and tube dresses. You can break down his creative process with all kinds of analysis, but at the end of the day, the designer sent men in dresses down a runway. That takes…balls.
Is home a real or an imaginary place?
Imaginary. Home is wherever you feel the most comfortable - which could be anywhere. I travel to Europe for fashion week twice a year and have always found it more comfortable than New York. People have a strong sense of style and I never feel quite the same way, here in New York. I look and think about clothing all day, every day. In Milan and Paris, more people seem to share the obsession and I find it comforting. I am at home, there.
To me, 21 is:
To me, 25 is:
To me, 30 is:
To me, 40 is:
Hell is _____.
Figurative. I find myself in “hell” when I have to wait 8 minutes for the subway. A subway platform at rush-hour is sort of like hell, right?
My mother always said:
My father always said:
Wear proper clothing to get proper conversations.
My rabbi always said:
I don’t have one. The closest I have ever been to organized religion is when my family would go to temple to “pray” for more money. Every Chinese person that goes to temple does exactly the same thing.