Alexa Adams Shares Her Secrets for Spotting Trends.
September 23, 2022
Alexa Adams is the co-founder of barrière and was co-founder of fashion brand Ohne Titel. She has worked for Helmut Lang, Nike, and Karl Lagerfeld amongst others.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Sarah Little Turnball is an icon who you need to learn about.
  2. Scent is about to have a big moment.
  3. And, activities that promote physical closeness are going to be on the rise this fall and winter.

Read on for our complete interview with fashion designer and CEO, Alexa Adams.

You made a career pivot during the pandemic from running and supporting fashion companies to creating medical grade accessories. What drove this pivot?

I had wanted, for years, to work at the intersection between health and fashion but hadn’t found the right company or idea. I was working as the Creative Director for a fashion brand in 2020, and one of my factories reached out to tell me that they were making medical grade PPE. Through that connection I ended up working as a volunteer- running supply chains of PPE to organizations in need until June of 2020. As the worst parts of the initial crises subsided my factory reached out about other ways to work together. At nearly the same time,l I was contacted by my co-founder Cleo about consumer-focused solutions. In many ways the process ended up being organic driven by my ability to see possibilities in the moment and my willingness to jump in to help. But, more than anything I think the element of purpose is what drove our business barrière.

What can others learn from the transition you’ve made as they think about transitioning their careers as well?

I think not having fear of learning new things is very important. While a new area of business always includes the unknown, I was able to use skills I had from fashion in creating a healthcare-focused business with a better consumer mindset. The most interesting parts of running barrière have been creating a new category and creatively satisfying a need that people have.

You’ve always been a brand builder and a trend spotter. What do you look at as you identify the next big thing?

I generally look to larger cultural movements, whether it be in our environment, new technology, and how we communicate. So much from fashion is a dialogue between changes in our outer world and how we express that individually.

As we enter Fall, and step further from our pandemic experiences, what trends do you see normalizing and which ones are changing?

I think people want to experience physical closeness with friends and family as well as try new experiences including more travel. We’ve been so digitally focused in the last 2 years that people want a more physical connection. I think finding ways that people can feel safe while not constrained will be the most important. We are focusing on “all in one” products that keep things simple like our sanitizing body creme or our moisturizing bug repellent products.

What practices do you employ as you change from summer to fall?

Generally I spend more time indoors in fall- although I am trying to enjoy the outdoors as long as possible, whether hiking upstate or just walking around and biking more in the city. I mask inside in confined spaces like the subway, and I mask more in October-February when it's both cold/flu season and when there have historically been more Covid cases.

Who are women that you admire?

I’ve always been inspired by women who forged their own path like Jane Jacobs, Claire McCardell, Doris Lessing, and Sarah Blakely of Spanx. Also I’ve always been obsessed with Sarah Little Turnbill who created the design for both N95’s, the molded bra cup, and spacesuits for 3M. She was one of the first to promote human centered design thinking.

What are you currently obsessed with OR one thing you highly recommend?

Scents. I believe there is much more we are learning about the power of scent receptors and their ability to heal. I’ve been focusing on scents I love on myself (like Orto Parisi’s Boccanera - filled with Sandalore molecules that have been shown to heal wounds) and scents in the places I am staying like Geraniol. I highly recommend the chapter on Scent from Dianne Ackerman’s A Natural History of The Senses.

Which work tools/courses/apps have made your life easier?

I love the ImportYeti website for sourcing interesting factories and Slack for team communications.

If you had one word to focus on as we head to 2023, what would it be?




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