As the creative mind behind the growing Ace Hotel chain, Alex Calderwood has established himself as one of the country’s most innovative boutique hoteliers (he prefers “cultural engineer”). Though he presides over a growing empire, including Ace outposts in Seattle, Portland, Palm Springs, and New York, Calderwood credits his inventive design approach to creative collaborative efforts (Kaws, Roman & Williams) and an advantageous sense of naiveté. Fittingly, he has followed an untraditional career path over the years, from concert- and party-promoting in Seattle to dealing dead-stock vintage clothing to founding the marketing and graphic-design firm NeverStop. In 1992, he launched Rudy’s Barbershop, a throwback-hip men's grooming shop in Seattle (a precursor to Freemans); the chain has since expanded to over a dozen locations throughout the West Coast. This spring, he’ll unveil the first Rudy’s in New York on the first floor of the Ace Hotel, along with new retail spaces for downtown-cool clothiers Opening Ceremony and Project No. 8 next week. We talked to Calderwood about vintage clothing, the art of clutter, and his upcoming foray into retail.
How did the partnership with Opening Ceremony and Project No. 8 come about?
We appreciated a sort of independent spirit and intuitive curatorial eye in each of them. Both have a really strong collaborative approach to what they do, which is the way we like to work.
The area around the new Ace Hotel [at West 29th Street and Broadway] isn’t necessarily known for high-end stores. Are the retail collaborations meant to lure the fashion set?
Ace is very sort of egalitarian; we like to think of ourselves as inclusive, not exclusive. But I think it’s more about the editorial point of view of Opening Ceremony and Project No. 8; I think they’ll be very complementary to each other and the neighborhood. In some respect, it’s sort of an underserved area.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I think if you look at all of the hotels, there is still a relatively clean aesthetic. It’s a little bit spare, in a sense, but there's also well-edited, carefully chosen clutter.
Who are your favorite designers?
I’ve always been very inspired by Margiela, and I love A.P.C. There’s also a new line out of L.A. called Apolis Activism, which was started by three brothers. I really love what they’re doing — there’s a special energy behind it.
Where do you like to shop?
Stock Vintage in the East Village is really well edited. And I just heard about this soccer supply store up on East 90th Street that I’m dying to go to. I don’t play anymore, but I love the graphics of soccer. I find inspiration in a lot of different places.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is pretty simple. I love jeans and dress shirts; it’s a really good feeling when you put on a crisp dress shirt. At this point in my life, I literally wear Levi’s every day, with minimal exceptions.
What trends are you appreciating right now?
The most interesting stuff is really the vintage downtown stuff. If I have to think of all my favorite things I wear over the years, it’s probably things I’ve found. And a lot of times the fabric quality is actually better than what you find today, like with vintage military wools.
What’s one item you’re saving to buy?
I’ve actually been spending a lot of time in Palm Springs recently, and there’s a really fantastic thrift scene out there. I have my eye on a table that I want to ship back to New York: It’s this really big, low table made of a piece of salvaged wood.
What should every guy have in his closet?
A good set of wingtips.
What’s something you never leave the house without?
Last time I was in New York, I bought a Matt Brown wallet at the Smile. I never used to carry a wallet, but now I use it every day.
Most Viewed Stories
Looks Like Kate Middleton Is Enjoying the View in Canada
Trump Campaign Manager Accidentally Refers to His ‘Abuse’ of Women on Live TV
Brad Pitt Fights Back Against Angelina Jolie and Her Plot to ‘Destroy’ Him
Megyn Kelly Roasts Trump’s Campaign Manager for Claiming He Doesn’t Make Sexist Comments
Finally Someone Called Donald Trump a Giant Baby and It Was Michelle Obama
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Prince Married to Commoner Still Too Good to Tweet
What It’s Like to Be a Female Reporter Covering Donald Trump
Democratic Women Senators Are Very Concerned About Donald Trump’s Weight
It’s Finally Possible to Understand What Happened to Amanda Knox
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
Latest News from The CutWhy Am I Always Tired?
Don't assume it's a health problem.How Yoga Turns You Superhuman or Just Less Freaked Out About Life
It trains the body, mind, and everything in between.10 Books We’re Reading Right Now
Read with us.All the Street Style From Paris Fashion Week
Wide-leg pants, boot game, Karlie Kloss.Can I Ask My Parents to Pay for Grad School Instead of My Wedding?
It would be a much better use of the money!We’re One Step Closer to Getting a Degree in Beyoncé Studies With New Lemonade Class
Get us a new student loan ASAP.Inside a Design Guru’s Enviable London Home
Rita Konig’s flat is one of the reasons you want to sign up for her workshops, starting October 14, here in New York City.25 Famous Women on Overcoming Rejection
Sylvia Plath, Yoko Ono, Misty Copeland, and more women on rising above it all.Young Republicans Love to Dress Like Your Worst Preppy Nightmare
Their favorite brands include Tory Burch, Brooks Brothers, and Walmart.Watch Alexander Wang’s Model Squad Raid a Beverly Hills Mansion
In a new fall 2016 campaign video exclusive.
With a name that’s not safe for work.Trump Wanted L.A. Golf Club to Fire Employees Who Were ‘Not Attractive Enough’
“Mr. Trump doesn’t like fat people.”New Lacoste Logo Is the Old Lacoste Logo After It Went to Burning Man
What a personal reinvention.Nation’s Conscience Samantha Bee Calls Out Donald Trump’s Debate Sexism
“All she had to do was step out of his way while he called a woman fat.”I’m Trying to Be Unbiased About This Article, But It’s Written by a Man So I Can’t
I tried. Sad!What It’s Like to Be a Female Reporter Covering Donald Trump
“I still have moments when I think, I cannot believe he’s the Republican nominee.”Brad Pitt Fights Back Against Angelina Jolie and Her Plot to ‘Destroy’ Him
The tabloids now insist Pitt is a really good dad.Completely Missing the Point, Newt Gingrich Says ‘You’re Not Supposed to Gain 60 Pounds’ While Miss Universe
Newt … thank you.Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris Have Been ‘Texting,’ Because Even Famous People Aren’t Above Trying to Be Friends With Their Exes
They’ve reportedly buried the hatchet.Teen Asking Self to Homecoming Is the New John Cusack Holding a Boom Box Over His Head
He said yes.