Encounters: Alex Drexler: A Individual Quest for the Perfect White Shirt

October 7th, 2013

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Alex Drexler at his menswear retailer, Alex Mill.

Alex Drexler was not happy with the sock arrangement. Mr. Drexler was standing at his just lately opened garments store, Alex Mill, staring intently down at the socks, which had been exhibited unrolled, in a windowless frame, laying flat on a counter. Possibly they ought to be moved a number of inches to the left? Or to the correct?

Mr. Drexler turned to the saleswoman and said, “I consider the way they ended up placed final 7 days was much better.”

It was noon on a latest sunny September day. The door at the NoLIta shop was propped open up, letting in a slight breeze and the occasional siren from nearby Houston Avenue. The store sells its own selection of men’s and boy’s garments, which debuted this fall, a tightly edited offering of shirts, denims and T-shirts.

“The total thought of Alex Mill sort of began with the concept of obtaining the ideal white shirt with the right fabric, the proper fit, the correct details,” explained Mr. Drexler, scarcely pausing for breath as one particular sentence tumbled into one more. “The concept was that with all the white shirts out there, it was nevertheless hard to find a excellent white shirt. And if you identified that ideal white shirt a single period, you would never ever locate it yet again the following season. And it was like, the subsequent season it was way too limited or as well skinny. So, it was really about getting that best shirt.”

That he thinks so intently about this topic need to not occur as too significantly of a surprise. Mr. Drexler, 36, is something of retail royalty. He is the son of Millard Drexler, acknowledged as Mickey, who is the chairman of J. Crew.

Slim with tightly cropped hair, Alex Drexler was dressed in clothes from the Alex Mill collection, what he called a “men’s uniform,” a white shirt, a white T-shirt and denims. His white oxford shirt was manufactured with fabric from Japan. His A. R. Trapp glasses are marketed in the keep. The clothing are developed by Alex Casertano (“The other Alex,” mentioned Mr. Drexler.) Mr. Drexler and Mr. Casertano put in some two several years in advancement.

The compact 400-square-foot Alex Mill store has first pressed-tin ceilings and wood plank floors with the seem of a classic fitness center basketball court docket. On the wall are antique cameras from eBay. Mr. Drexler walked in excess of to the children’s section and held up a small plaid shirt. “A great deal of kids clothes is rock ’n’ roll with huge peace indications on the again,” he mentioned. “Our apparel for youngsters is a shrunken-down model of our assortment, like father like son. No guitars.”

Shifting in excess of to the men’s shirts, Mr. Drexler pointed out military-grade buttons and mother-of-pearl buttons. He pulled out a shirt hanging from a rack from the selection of plaids, stripes and solids. “This is a gentle flannel shirt which I like,” he mentioned. He held out the cloth to be touched, which he does often. “It’s one more hand-come to feel that I like.”

Right after sharing the nice feel of the cotton T-shirts, which occur in a variety of hues, Mr. Drexler moved on to the denims. “Getting the jeans correct is definitely a labor of really like. This is our one-calendar year wash,” said Mr. Drexler, pulling a pair off the exhibit rack. He pointed to the light horizontal strains at the crease below entrance pockets that give an illusion that the denims are worn. “As you can see, we have the proper whispering, the appropriate distressing. It’s a one-year clean, so it seems like it is truly worn.”

Right after a arranging a job in legislation enforcement, such as a dalliance in law school, Mr. Drexler went into the garments organization. He expended five several years at Gryphon New York, a women’s label. It was there he worked with Andrew Rosen, the industry govt powering Concept, and a Gryphon trader. Mr. Drexler credited Mr. Rosen as educating him the information of the company. “I uncovered a great deal about production and allocation and logistics and sourcing,” he mentioned. “Andrew is exactly where I truly realized the nuts and bolts. From my dad, I discovered about how to offer with individuals.”

The Drexler relationship has produced a reasonable quantity of media focus, with articles or blog posts in Vanity Truthful, New York magazine, WWD and GQ. Lawren Howell, a contributing editor at Vogue, modeled the line with her daughter on the magazine’s Net site. (Girls can put on the massive boy’s or little men’s measurements.) The post said that Ms. Howell invested family vacations with the Drexlers, especially citing Mickey Drexler, as a little one growing up in San Francisco.

“No question, the name assists in acquiring press,” Alex Drexler explained. “People have study about it, listened to about, and they want to see it.” He pointed out that media interest will not make a sale or ensure good results. “You can read through about all these excellent buttons but in the long run if you place on the shirt, and the button falls off, no a single is likely to care about what they go through about the buttons,” he said.

Alex Mill has a showroom around the keep on Broadway. The shirts variety from $ one hundred forty five to $ a hundred sixty five the T-shirts are $ fifty five and the jeans are about $ 245. The label is accessible at Barneys, Odin and Hen, amongst other merchants. Mr. Drexler mentioned he was gratified that people in the trade picked up on the information concerned in the clothing. He grabbed a shirt to make a point. “See the triple stitch below? It is not one particular sew, it is not two, but it’s 3. And this is trapunto stitching below. T-R-A-P-U-N-T-O,” he explained helpfully, solution a reporter’s quizzical look.

Did his father come to see the place? “Nah. He did not appear down.” Mr. Drexler paused and laughed. He liked toying with the idea that the well-known retailer didn’t make the pilgrimage to his son’s retailer. “I’m joking,” he mentioned. “He came down. He genuinely appreciated it. It was fantastic.”

The spring line, now in generation, is introducing a navy jacket, a baseball cap and chinos. Mr. Drexler described his quest: “It’s hard to find a excellent chino that has the right shade, the appropriate softness. The ideal chino will be functional with how you dress in them, roll them up in the summertime or dress in them underneath a blazer with a sweatshirt in the drop.”

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