24 Hours with Alexander Julian

“I love to create,” says Alexander Julian, who has spent decades putting a contemporary and creative spin on menswear as a designer and, for the past twelve years, as owner of Julian’s, the Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based haberdashery his parents opened in 1942. Considering Alex’s list of accolades and accomplishments ranges from being the youngest inductee to the Fashion Hall of Fame to designing the uniforms for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels to receiving awards for interior and furniture design to appearing on the International Best Dressed List nine times, it’s not surprising that his typical daily routine encompasses everything from designing fabrics to discussing coach Roy Williams’s clothes for next year’s basketball season to planning a photo shoot for his just-listed 31-acre Connecticut estate. Here, the master of “modern traditional” menswear shares a typical 24 hours in his busy life.

6:47 a.m.: I had no idea when I fell in love with my wife, Meg, 30-plus years ago that besides all the other important wonderful things she does (supermom, designer, chef), she’s an inadvertent alarm clock! This is particularly helpful because I’m a night owl and would ideally sleep until 11.

“Emails, texts, WeChat, and WhatsApp are my in-bed, pre-coffee ritual.”

7:10 a.m.: The great benefit to Meg’s morning routine is that she gets me up in time to deal with international time changes. I am so lucky to work with my youngest son, Huston, on design—he had the idea to bring back my 80s top end line, so we’re designing for the USA and Japan, as well as for our store. Our key suppliers and distributors are all over the world, so emails, texts, WeChat, and WhatsApp are my in-bed, pre-coffee ritual.

7:25 a.m.: I must have Counter Culture coffee, which I get from Weaver Street Market in Carrboro, with soy creamer, followed by my personal multigrain blend cereal, two dollops of Lavva (a plant-based yogurt made with pili nuts), oat milk, and organic blueberries. Then I’m set to roll.

8:00 a.m.: More catching up on emails and phone calls with overseas partners.

9:00 a.m.: I dress and head out on my mountain bike for a 45-minute to hour-long ride, ending with a brief trip to the gym for weight training. I bike every day, weather permitting, and go to the gym every other day.

10:00 a.m.: Accompanied by Meg and her teacup Yorkie, I walk to our 77-year-old retail store, Julian’s, which my parents opened in 1942. As we stroll the .7 miles to the store, we discuss Meg’s women’s selection plans and results. We finally added women’s 12 years ago, and Meg is in command. With Haley Buggs, our women’s manager’s help, it’s been a huge success!

11:30 a.m.: My wonderful nephew Bart Fox—men’s custom clothing expert and men’s manager of Julian’s—and I head to a meeting at UNC basketball coach Roy Williams’s office to fit new clothes for next season and assess and listen to Coach’s wants and needs.

12:40 p.m.: It’s Friday, so we order takeout from Al’s Burger Shack…I love the Friday-only shrimp burger with spicy coleslaw! Yum.

2:15 p.m.: Meg and I have a phone conference with our Connecticut realtor regarding a new photo shoot for our 31-acre estate, which is up for sale. The kids are gone, and we’re hoping to move back to my hometown, Chapel Hill, full-time.

“Menswear, womenswear, eyewear, furniture, carpets, new bicycle clothes, new bicycle designs…I love to create.”

3:00 p.m.: I head to our “Southern Studio” above the store for the next few hours to work on the multitude of ongoing design projects…menswear, womenswear, eyewear, furniture, carpets (we just successfully redesigned all the carpets for the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Charlotte), the new Higgins Hotel in New Orleans (I got to name it as creative director), new bicycle clothes, and new bicycle designs…I love to create! My son Huston and my wife, Meg, are invaluable to the process and the business.

6:15 p.m.: As Meg and I leave the store, we try to decide whether to walk to one of our two favorite restaurants, Andrea Reusing’s Lantern in Chapel Hill (my favorite things on the menu are the pork and chive dumplings, steamed fresh North Carolina red drum, and the world’s best pork chops), or Gabe Barker’s Mercato in Carrboro (everything on the menu is our favorite). Huston and his beautiful wife, Nikki, join us frequently for dinner.

8:30 p.m.: I watch a recording of the evening PBS news, a great vintage movie on Turner Classic, and hit the hay around 11.

Photography by Eve Hobgood. Julian’s is featured in The Scout Guide Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill.