AS AN ACTOR, Alexander Hodge gets to try lots of different style personalities on for size. “Wardrobe is about 25 percent of getting into character,” says the Australian actor as he pulls on a pair of black embroidered cowboy boots with Cuban heels. “Like, you feel different in a heel than you do in flat shoes. I think costume is such a fundamental part of shaping each character. And each of as as people, too.”
For the last 10 years, Hodge has been living and working in the United States, first in New York and then LA. Both cities played a role in shaping his personal style; the actor was in New York around the time contemporary menswear brands like Aimé Leon Dore were taking off, while the move to California saw a more Western-inspired flavour filter into his fits (and his taste in music, he admits with a wink).
Since returning to Australia, he’s been wearing local brands like Song for the Mute and Haulier on repeat. “I don’t know if it’s like this romantic ‘return to the hometown after I’ve been away’ kind of thing, but I’m really loving getting into Aussie brands,” he tells us as he runs us through five of his favourite fits.
The backstreets of Marrickville in Sydney might be a far cry from Sunset Boulevard, but as Hodge works his way through his five fits, we’re reminded that really, really good personal style knows no geographical boundaries.
Scroll on to learn more about the actor’s style journey, from an ambitious kid with a prized collection of counterfeit watches growing up in South Sydney, to an actor with a slightly more legitimate collection of IWC timepieces climbing the ranks in Hollywood.
Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you grow up?
I’m from Rockdale in South Sydney. Growing up there… the whole first part of my life was spent so far away from anything elevated, anything luxurious. That was just never really made available to us. But I remember being really into graphic tees as a kid. Like, T-shirts printed with my favourite cartoon characters. I don’t think it was particularly cool or anything, but that didn’t matter.
You’ve brought a couple of graphic tees with you today. Can you tell me about those?
(Laughs). As an adult I think it’s manifested in band tees—that’s how the guilty pleasure has continued. I’m always searching for artists I like whose albums were quite formative… this T-shirt is from Shakira’s Laundry Service’ album. I spent way too much money on that. And I’ve got another from Sade’s Diamond Life. Hunting them out has become a bit of an obsession.
Where do you call home nowadays?
I’m in the process of moving back to Sydney for a bit. I’m excited about it. LA is great but it can be a lot, and I was there all throughout Covid, which was a bit isolating. I feel like you can have a really good lifestyle [in Australia].
When did you start getting interested in fashion?
My best mate is so into fashion. He always has been. I’ve known him since we were 12. He’s my most fashionable friend, and I love him so much because I think so much of what he wears is kind of terrible—as in it’s not my style—but it makes him so happy wearing the most obscure designer shirt that’s like purple and bright green. I learned from him that fashion was something you could be really into.
But then my first 10 years of trying to take fashion seriously… I was all about investing in brands because they represented something about a place. Like, I lived in New York for six years, when Aimé Leon Dore was coming up in the 2010s, and I’d go hang out at the shop every week. I connected with it because it was all about this hustle mentality and finding your feet, which is really what I was trying to do over there.
How has your relationship to fashion changed since then?
I don’t take fashion as seriously anymore. I try to just allow myself to enjoy it. I’m dying to wear a skirt because I think it would just be so much fun to wear a skirt. But all of my fashion knowledge has been inherited through conversation with friends. I don’t research, I don’t follow, I don’t seek it out. It’s just conversation.
How would you describe your style?
Hmmm… ‘street-level luxury’ is probably it. I don’t take care of my things, I kind of thrash them. I used to try really hard to take care of my stuff but then I realised I’m just not that kind of person. And I just embraced it.
Are you a dry cleaning guy?
I’ll dry clean something nice like once or twice a year, and I’ll just thrash it every other day of the year. Like, if it frays, if it tears… I don’t hem trousers if they get too long, I let them drag and fray a little bit. But it makes it feel like me, like it’s kind of mine now.
Do you prefer winter or summer fashion?
I like in between. I prefer a nice… 25 degree day, where you can rock a t-shirt and shorts—not that I wear shorts, unless I’m running.
You’re not a fan of bare legs?
There’s something about having your knees out in any kind of setting that’s not beach or active appropriate… feels like you’re a child. Like you feel like seven years old. I also, I don’t know, maybe because I’ve got Asian genes, I’ve got thick calves, so shorts have always been more difficult for me to pull off. They make me look like a boy.
We can’t go any further without asking about the boots.
These are my favourite purchase of the past year. I’ve wanted cowboy boots with a cuban heel for like the last four, five years. And I like thrifting a lot but the problem with thrifting these is they’ve had so many feet in them, that it’s hard to find ones that fit you.
Did you find them in a thrift store?
I actually bought them new. They’re by a brand called Liberty out of LA, which is no longer around. They were custom designed by the artist, who was this Rockabilly guy. He created his own artworks and then made them into these incredible boots. I went to this boot store called West in Beverly Hills and this was the last pair they had. They were a bit too big but I loved them too much to leave them. The guy put inner soles in to make them fit a bit better, and now I actually love the fact they’re a little bit big.
You mentioned that you’ve gotten more into watches recently. What’s that journey been like?
When I was younger I would buy fake watches, and some of them were IWC. I remember, I would feel so cool with my studded belt, my frosted tips and my fake IWC Pilot on my wrist—you couldn’t tell me shit walking out of the Banksia Shopping Centre (laughs).
And now you’re wearing a genuine IWC. What do you like about the brand?
What I’ve always appreciated about IWC is that it’s never felt like aesthetic has won over function. I’ve never wanted anything more flashy than a classic green watch face. That’s something I’ve always found really appealing; a timepiece that looks like a watch. And IWC has always felt like the prototype to me.
When did you get your first tattoo?
I was 15 years old. I walked into Bills Custom on Oxford Street—he’s not there anymore, he’s now operating in some rural town I think. I got this dragon on my back. It’s not that big, but I’ve since covered about half of my back with stuff. I have a lot of ideas about other tattoos I want, but then work gets in the way… the reason these ones on my wrists are kind of small, single needle is because I need to cover them with make up for jobs.
I kind of have a habit of getting tattoos whenever I’m going through something. My tattoo artist in LA kind of became like my therapist. I went through a bad break up, for example, and walked into a tattoo shop and got two neck tattoos. I’ve learned you probably shouldn’t just walk in for a neck tattoo, you should probably do a bit of research on that one.
You had long hair for quite a while. What inspired you to chop it off?
I cut it short recently for a job, and now I just don’t know what to do with it. Short hair feels so different. I started greying in my early twenties and over the pandemic it just exploded… some jobs will dye my hair and some won’t, but it’s just always been there, and I haven’t felt the need to do anything about it.
And why should you. What’s the next thing you want to buy?
Oh, a bolo tie is the next purchase. I’m getting into aubergine and brown tones—I wear a lot of blue, but I’m trying to sort of branch out from the blue. So my next few purchases, I want to buy a bolo tie with like a brown stone… I feel like that’s the direction I want to move in.
Between the boots and the bolo, has living in North America inspired the more Western direction of your style?
Oh for sure. I also really want a big belt buckle. That’s a grail purchase for sure. Another grail purchase is a Tom Ford suit. I don’t own a Tom Ford suit. Yet.
You spoke about the importance of wardrobe, but is there anything else that helps you get into character?
Music for sure. I’ll make a playlist based around what I think a character would listen to. For me, music is really emotive, I identify albums or certain songs with chapters of my life. I love finding certain genres or artists that help me find a way into a character.
What have you been listening to lately?
You know what… I’ve actually been listening to a lot of country music. I guess that’s what 10 years of living in America does to you.
All watches available from IWC Boutiques and iwc.com
Check back for another edition of ‘Five Fits With’ soon.