The Secret to Hot Chip's Style: Fashionable 'Other Halves'

Since their 2005 debut Coming On Strong, Hot Chip have gone from recalling Prince with a winking sense of humor to covering him with full conviction during their live sets. The quirky British dance group’s sound has also gotten more luxurious and full live-- especially on their last couple of albums, 2012’s In Our Heads and 2010’s One Life Stand. Similarly, their style has evolved from goofy nerd-chic (kitschy graphic tees, Coogi sweaters, and blindingly bright glasses) to progressive and tailored -- blazers, button-downs, linen suits, suede boots, and oyster bracelet watches are now among the items in rotation in their wardrobes. During the first weekend of Coachella, Hive spoke to vocalist Alexis Taylor and multi-instrumentalists Aly Doyle and Felix Martin about their “English eccentric” styles, swapping clothes with their wives, and some of their past sartorial missteps.

I dig your summer festival looks.

Al Doyle: We’ve gone for a slightly different approach. Felix has gone dark.

Felix Martin: If you stay in the shade, it helps you radiate heat more efficiently.

What considerations did you make when you were getting dressed for your set?

Martin: You have to dress for comfort, to some extent. It’s very hot and you have to jump around on stage a lot, so Al is wearing some loose-fitting trousers.

Doyle: I’m not actually going to wear the top part of this on stage--

Martin: Oh yeah, he’s going to be even more stylish.

Doyle: I’m basically wearing a dress, like a tunic or smock-style number. It’s a long A-line, white thing.

I’ve seen this garment before. You wore it on the S.S.Coachella.

Doyle: That’s my Coachella wear. I found it at a store called Egg. It’s run by this woman who was sort of a muse for Issey Miyake at one point, but she does her own thing now. They have silhouettes that you can choose and they’ll make it in whatever fabric you want. A lot of it is based on French peasant wear so it’s a lot of loose things-- perfect for hot weather. I went there with my wife and picked out a few things that we can share. It’s kind of strange stuff.

Alexis, where did you find your jumpsuit?

Alexis Taylor: It was in a vintage shop in New York and I thought that my wife might want to wear it. She picked it up off the rack but she wasn’t really sure so she left it. Another girl in the shop picked it up and had it without eight other items and walked around the shop for an hour, tried on everything, and we thought, “That’s the end of that.” Then I started to get fixated on it and thought, “Maybe it’s worth going back to the shop to see if she’s ditched it” and she had. So, I bought it and now I’m wearing it. I’m not sure if I’ll wear it on stage-- if it’s a little bit Teletubby.

You guys both switch off clothing with your wives-- is this a Hot Chip-wide thing?

Taylor: My wife and I do that because we’re about the same size. I don’t think it’s a Hot Chip-wide trait but there’s two of us.

Alexis, I noticed your sharp watch on S.S. Coachella. Have you had it long?

Taylor: My uncle gave it to me when I was 18. It’s a Tudor watch, which is one of Rolexes companies. I’ve had it ever since then.

What’s the story behind your sunglasses?

Doyle: They’re a Dries Van Noten x Linda Farrow collaboration and I started buying them when they first came out. I have about three or four pairs. I bought them in Paris and got a frame with clear lenses so I can wear them as normal reading glasses. I’m quite blind.

Martin: Mine are from a shop in Sydney called Ksubi. They have a nice range of sunglasses. I got them on our last trip there a few months ago. These have prescription lenses in too because I’m quite blind like Al.

It seems like all of you follow fashion very closely.

Doyle: Well, Felix’s girlfriend works in fashion and my girlfriend used to work in lots of different high-end shops in London. So, I supposed we got introduced to it by our other halves. Alexis and Joe have always worn really interesting outfits as well. I think Felix and I are attempting to be a little more restrained, especially color-wise. I’m only getting used to wearing color quite recently. There was a lot of monochrome going on.

When did you start putting thought into what you wear?

Taylor: Around the age of four or five. I dressed myself when I was younger but my mum dresses me now. I had a pair of pajamas that I was quite attached to that had a pair of hieroglyphics on them.

Martin: I don’t know that we’ve ever collectively put thought into having a look as band. We’ve always just dressed the way we like and it doesn’t always fit together but I think that’s kind of interesting in itself. There’s times when you make an effort and other times when you don’t really bother. I think we’re pretty all over the place in terms of style. Also, if you’ve been on tour for a long time, we don’t travel with a separate, onstage wardrobe -- it’s just a bunch of clothes crammed into a suitcase. After a few weeks, it’s hard to keep up the standards.

Do you see any connection between your collective individual styles and your sound?

Doyle: Just because of the disparate nature of the five people in the band, I suppose there’s a parallel there in terms of the different things that we bring to the musical project. We just look like five guys who have turned up and happen to be in the same place at the same time. That is vaguely reflective of people’s interests, on the music side of things, but that’s a bit of a forced parallel.

Are there any musicians whose styles you look up to?

Doyle: Our friend Janine [Rostron], Planningtorock, always wears some unique clothes and I really like what she wears. For guys--

Martin: Har Mar Superstar.

Doyle: He lets it all hang out and it’s really nice. And we look up to [the] classics like David Bowie and David Byrne -- people like that who are always changing their style a little bit. David Byrne came to our show in New York and he was wearing white Air Force Ones and I thought he looked really good --

Martin: With a white linen suit that had flower embroidery. He’s got very white hair. He looked really cool.

Doyle: He’s starting off in a really good place too. He was gifted with an interesting physicality.

What’s a sentimental thing that each of you will always travel with on tour?

Martin: I’ve got a very old pair of socks. They’re my oldest surviving article of clothing. They’re very warm and they’re kind of like hiking socks. I got them when I was about 15, which is almost 20 years ago. They’ve really lasted a long time. They were grey-green but they’re not any color anymore. They’ve worn out but they don’t really have holes in them -- it’s pretty amazing.

Doyle: I’ve got a wife beater that I wore on stage for the final LCD show and I like wearing it. I used to end up taking my top off quite a lot when we played hot shows and I got a bit exhibitionist at one point, so I thought the vest was quite a solution -- but it also makes me look like I’ve been having a TV dinner or something and just decided to come out on stage. I enjoy wearing that a lot.

What are the most adventurous pieces in your closets?

Martin: I’m not really one for adventure.

Doyle: I used make some really bad mistakes. I remember wearing a three-piece suit on stage and even the process of removing that thing is complicated. So that was a misstep.

Martin: It looked snazzy.

Doyle: There’s been a few wild choices. Alexis once wore a -- I don’t know if you know what boxers wear when they want to lose weight but it looks like a bin bag and it’s black, and he wore it in Japan and everyone was like, “Alexis man, you’re going to die out there.” He was like, “Nah, nah I think it’ll be alright.” And I was like, “It’s a suit designed to make you sweat really hard.” But he went ahead with it anyway and that had to come off pretty quickly in the set.

Taylor: It was good for sweating but if you wear it during your gig, you end up sweating a lot. I lost some weight but I also gained some liquid in my shoes.

How would you describe your individual styles?

Martin: Conservative.

Taylor: I tend to wear things that I find interesting and fun.

Doyle: All of us are on different scales of English eccentric. That is quite a wide scale.

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