He began representing the designers he sold in 1996 with the launch of the Steven Alan Showroom, and introduced his own line of menswear in 1999, adding womenswear a few years later. Based on the idea of the perfect shirt (for him) and the boyfriend shirt (for her), Alan’s quirky-chic label became an instant cult classic, and is now sold internationally in stores like Barneys, Ron Herman and United Arrows.
Today, there are five Steven Alan boutiques in New York (including the new Brooklyn outpost), three in California, and one in Korea - and the retailer-cum-designer is gearing up for the spring 2009 debut of his Steven Alan for Uniqlo collection.
The Fashion Informer nabbed a few minutes with the globetrotting entrepreneur a few weeks before Christmas to talk travel, sports and the joys of fatherhood.
What's your favorite getaway spot?
Locally it's Spa Castle in Queens. They have around 10 different rooms of heat; one is even lined in gold. When I get away I like to go to places that I've never been. Anything undeveloped that makes me feel like the bustle of NYC is far away works for me.
Beverage of choice?
Lately it’s water with Emergen C. I've had to travel excessively.
Best thing about being a dad?
Watching my son Max grow mentally and emotionally. Yesterday he was at my sample sale and he saw a guy trying a sweater on and looking in the mirror and talking animatedly about it with his girlfriend. Max loved the whole scene and came over and asked me if I had an extra small size in that sweater. It fit him like a dress but he loved it. Now he only wants to wear that sweater.
Most challenging thing about being a dad?
Having to say no and meaning it.
What's the single best piece of professional advice you ever received?
Taking calculated risks and making sure to learn if things go wrong. Some guy on an airplane told me that when I was 11 years old. For some reason, I never forgot that.
What was your nickname as a child, and what's your nickname now?
I didn’t have one growing up. Now sometimes SA.
What's in current rotation on your iPod?
I haven't uploaded anything since I got it two years ago. I have some Dylan and Blonde Redhead, I think, but I barely have time to listen to it.
When was the last time you rode the subway?
I'm always on the subway. The last trip was on the A train going to the Upper West Side to see my therapist. It's filled with them up there. I’m always running into people I know on the train going to see their therapists.
What did you do last weekend and what are your plans for this weekend?
I just moved into my new apartment. This weekend I'm working at our semi-annual sample sale.
What was the first concert you ever attended?
Tanglewood. It was a classical concert that I went to in summer camp.
What's your favorite sport to watch and to participate in?
I don't watch any unless I need to nap. I snowboard and play tennis.
What never fails to make you cry?
Movies where kids are forced to be adults.
When are you happiest?
Watching Max have fun – and I’m also happy every time I start a new project.