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