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THE WORLD OF BIANCA CHANDÔN ACCORDING TO ALEX OLSON

From the beaches of Venice to the streets of NYC


PHOTOGRAPHY: BIANCA CHANDÔN

INTERVIEW: WILL SHARP & KEVIN WILSON

Bianca Chandon emerged from the shadows in 2014 to bring the fashion industry a new and exciting brand. Founded by a self proclaimed fashion amateur, professional skateboarder Alex Olson knowingly or unknowingly injected a breath of fresh air into the landscape.  In an industry that makes it harder and harder to take chances and risks, Alex Olson seems uninterested in playing by the rules. Like digging through crates and dusting off old records, each new season Bianca Chandon explores areas of counter culture and mainstream culture that seem to have been forgotten, rejected or just buried.

Why did you start Bianca Chandon? 


Well I started Bianca Chandon because at the time I just quit my major skateboard sponsor (Girl Skateboards). I was a bit frustrated with skateboarding. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do...the natural progression usually is stars keep a company for skateboarders I guess? I wanted it to not be a skateboard brand I wanted to be more diverse and interesting taking other outside influences, I was trying to make a hodgepodge of a company. With close to zero understanding how the companies really work I just dove in head first and learned by my mistakes and I moved forward. I wanted to make us the A.P.C., Ralph Lauren skate influence brand that was bigger than skateboarding.


What does Bianca Chandon stand for?


The name doesn’t really stand for anything, it’s more of a façade. It was supposed to stand or seem like this fictitious powerful woman designer like YSL or Isabel Marant. It was more of a conceptual idea I guess at the time. Some people think she’s real, she might be living in morocco she might be retired, she might be living in Ibiza.It was supposed to sound elegant and mysterious.


Does it even matter to stand for anything anymore?


I believe it stood for something, it was really important when we first started it. Now I don’t know so much but it’s got a foothold and I think it’s cemented its name.


I feel like Bianca explores some seemingly unexplored, experimental or unproven subjects/ideas, do kids care anymore about learning new things or being exposed to things they haven’t been before?


I think the Internet has tarnished that some what. I believe the Internet is such a powerful tool and we’ve really explored and exhausted a lot of things...there’s always gonna be something new for someone that doesn’t know, but it’s really challenging now because everyone’s a cultural historian vulture basically, I include myself in that statement, ha!


Do you feel like it is maybe some sort of obligation to expose kids to thinking for themselves and not just what big brands feed them?


I think it’s about showing them the right intentions. But there’s so many things that people can call you out on that you didn’t do but I’ve tried to do the right things but the human mind can only make so many right decisions and also there are errors so it’s quite hard to always be doing the right thing. This day and age there’s not much forgiveness or correcting a mistake. Also being a small company it’s hard to compete with the companies that have more resources more people to do a deeper dive on the subjects of interest. I would love to do more stuff because there’s so much stuff to explore really actually. I know I just contradicted myself with the cultural historian vulture comment from the last question but It depends on where you emphasize and where you're taking your information or cultural references from. I think a lot of these brands only go a couple layers but there’s so many more deeper deeper layers to it and interesting things that are happening that we don’t know about. 



"I was trying to make a hodgepodge of a company."


Where did you grow up and where do you stay currently?


I grew up in Santa Monica/Malibu California. The quintessential blue-eyed long blonde haired California skateboard beach kid. I went to New York when I was 13 with my dad and kept going back ever since. I always tried to move there but either my skateboard sponsors didn’t let me or threatened to not sponsor me.I would be in relationship at the time and so I never really got a chance to move there in my early 20s. Then, finally, I wasn’t in the grips of those two things and I finally made the jump to New York.


How do you like the East Coast compared to the West Coast?


I mean just different weather is one thing. Social aspect of interacting with people is way greater in the East than the West. But I never thought I would say that, I miss the ocean. I got more and more into surfing now. It just isn’t consistent enough surf in the East. So I’m torn between where to go next. Also New York has just changed so dramatically for me, a lot of friends don’t live there anymore. It’s changed a lot.


Whats your favorite thing about New York & how is it different for skating?


I mean it’s a true metropolitan. As cliché as it sounds it is the concrete jungle so therefore it’s an amoeba of skateboarding spots. That being said, there are continuously coming of different forms and shapes every day with construction or the natural elements changing structures. It looked so exotic from skateboarding videos from being West bound. 


Do you still have time to skate as much as you want or do your brands take up your time?


The brands take up a lot of mental capacity and bandwidth. At the end of the day sometimes you just want to be stoned or think about nothing. Also getting older and feeling like you wilted doesn’t make you want to skateboard any harder. I guess it’s a circumstantial point of view. It comes in waves. You fall in and out of love with skating, or any passion for that matter. You will become uninspired but then take a break and find a new way of falling in love with it again. But as you get older your mind is still the same but physically maybe you are not as strong. That’s why surfing is so nice because it’s gentle on the body and it’s a new challenge. Different muscle groups...


People would probably guess you started Bianca Chandon as a fashion brand and 917 as a skate brand, but I feel like it’s not that black and white. Is there any difference between skate and fashion anymore?


I think fashion has switched it’s demographic. It’s no longer for these chic eccentric people or super wealthy only. I believe the Internet has played a big role, it's tangible subcultures that if you do a little bit of studying...you buy into these labels, you're deemed cool within the know. Therefore people have an identity.I might be going on off on a diatribe sorry...  


Skate culture and style are having a big moment in fashion, is that good, bad, exciting, annoying, lame?


I don’t really get annoyed. If anything, I get more annoyed at skaters getting upset by it. I mean who really cares, it doesn’t affect anyone. If anything it makes everyone more relevant for the time being which intrinsically makes more money for people that are sponsored skateboarders because it becomes mainstream.



One of my favorite things you’ve made were the pleated shorts. Where did the inspiration come from?

Thank you for the compliment, I would love to make more stuff like that...I was trying to make collections in the beginning but I don’t think our customer has that pallet at the moment and that’s a long slow burn. They were based off a Jimmy Z short and girl's school uniforms and we tried to make it a unisex idea. I was for the second season but never got made until now :) They're hard to rock seamlessly without looking to craze lol. 

Ever ask your dad for his opinion on your gear?

Not really, I could guess what he would say.

Where’d the "lover" design idea come from? 

When I was 16 I made this New York doll T-shirts from the computer and had vinyl iron-on letters. It was actually in a days and confused shoot with Ed Templeton when I was 16. But fast forward when I was 27-28 I wanted to make a shirt that said "lover" in that same font and Larry Lavigne had this red shirt with the paradise garage logo small on his chest on his record I had. I wanted to combine the two...my friend Jack Greer had a flock machine at his art studio at the time. I was pretty heartbroken I had gotten broken up with and I was so sad that I had to force myself to do something, so I went over there and made those lover shirts weirdly saying lover...I didn’t really like realize this until two years ago. I don’t know why it was such a big hit! But there’s a little bit of a romantic story to it ha!

Do you personally participate in any of the NYC or Paris fashion weeks?

I try to if I get invited but I don’t know if they considered someone like me that’s relevant to sit at those shows or not. I don’t really get invited also I’m oblivious to it sometimes.

"I don’t know why it was such a big hit! But there’s a little bit of a romantic story to it ha!"

If Bianca Chandon was a restaurant what would they be? 

I like this question, fun! Hmmm I mean an Italian restaurant comes to mind or Mediterranean. Hard to say because fancy restaurants breed assholes so it’s hard for me to say a nice fancy Italian restaurant in NYC. Half the time people are rude to the waiters and I’d rather just see them get fucking marinara splattered on them like it’s Nickelodeon Double Dare TV show for kids. Personally I love an old school health food store that has a place where they make sandwiches with sprouts. A friend calls it "vintage vegan"...that’s were it’s mostly all soy based style.

You ever skate DC? Or hit up Pulaski?

The most epic line Reese Forbes Dan Woolf filming at level ground view of a flat ground line amazing I love that spot.

Do you see yourself opening Bianca Chandon stores in the future?

It just seems really hard. If I were, it would have so many plants and trees it would be like a green nursery with with tall ceilings lots of light. Probably have an espresso machine like a Japanese store...and with an ill Soundsystem that I would actually use not just for display like some of these other places 😜. in a perfect world! I have all the components in my head. I have a photo somewhere where it’s got the quintessential idea some type of apartmento issue...

Thanks for these questions that was fun


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