10 years ago the brand Alphanumeric was among the leading-edge brands in the then emerging category of street fashion for men. A decade later, founders Mirko Mangum who runs the UNIV in Encinitas, and Alyasha Owerka-Moore, founder of the denim label FiberOps, have re-grouped with their team and brought life back to the legendary Alphanumeric brand. We caught up with the 4 leaders of the re-launched Alphanumeric premiering at Agenda Fashion Trade Show last month in San Diego in the only non-descript booth (no sign overhead) -another key aspect of their underground brand messaging.
“We took a smoke break,” explains Mirko about the 10-year-gap in the brand’s history. “But we still had a strong following; we had the venders ready and 90 days later we’re back out in the market.”
One reason that Alphanumeric was so strong and probably will continue to be again today has to do with the aesthetics. As creative director, Alyasha explains to Label Networks TV that graphically there have been some changes, but they’re not into loading up apparel with details for the sake of details, but having key smaller aspects which are important.
Among the new collection are windbreakers -the M65–with a clean line buffalo plaid button downs with a twist in that the pockets are angled from the sides and the silhouette is more fitted; a 5-pocket denim that is streamlined with a wax to set the creases; plus cardigan sweaters, polos with small but unique details; and an all-over print button down in black graph paper designs making the all-over print nearly invisible.
Message T’s are also a key aspect to Alphanumeric, which the founders state is important because they believe that education is key. “Staying abreast of the news, worldly affairs, being informed is what it’s all about, ” explains Alyasha. “It doesn’t need to be preachy but it’s about opening your eyes. Some people will get the message and some people will simply think it’s a cool shirt.”
“One thing we don’t do, ” explains Alyasha, is “we don’t hit people over the head with a brand message. As you can see, we have no sign overhead, but we do have some of the best retailers over the country, plus buyers from Italy, Sweden, and other places.”
Overall, the re-launch of Alphanumeric has become big news for those who understand the history of street and men’s progressive contemporary fashion cultures. And ironically, while the brand’s marketing efforts are discreet, their re-surface has created a lot of hype, as any classic that comes back more relevant than ever should.