Photos and videos by Alex McDonell

“Join the squad”, a pitch that – although simple in meaning –carries much weight in today’s generation of emerging businesses. Such a phrase can be found in the biography section of @feelingsbyalex Instagram account, a prominently [dad] hat-focused merchandise company designed by creator Alex McDonell.

Based in Los Angeles, feelings first took to social media in late July of 2015 with three-to-six piece photo spreads that lay across its Instagram feed creating a singular image full of color and simplicity. Whatever branding it intended was left to its followers’ imaginations – images included french fries, one large cotton candy, color-cased pills and a swimming pool full of inflatable flamingos. What soon followed by late October/early November were the first samples of “feelings”
hats brought to life by the man himself.

image

But before we venture into the man’s taste in fashion accessories, let us explore what makes Alex a standout artist in a field that is saturated by others trying to make a quick buck. Like many artists of the 21st century, photography became Alex’s staple form of creativity. With his first photos posted circa 2013 on the most popular form of visual communication, Instagram, Alex captured moments of quirkiness by humans surrounded by eye-capturing environments. Many of the images seemed staged and understandable indeed, however his knack for timing made such moments also seem so natural that it could have been a distant memory of my own. His unique vision in photography – which I consider to have been before its time, meaning what I constantly see now – led him to the set of Big Sean’s music video “I Don’t Fuck With You”, off his Platinum-certified album Dark Sky Paradise (2015). Alex revealed his involvement with the video on Instagram with behind-the-scene photos of Big Sean and Kanye West on set of the shooting. You could definitely assume from that moment Alex McDonell was feeling like he was nearing that “finally famous, nigga” point in his life. Yet, there was so much more for this aspiring creative. He then followed this act in collaborations with Raesremmurd, Neff Clothing, Yellow Claw, Nike Football, Jaden Smith, Pacsun and G-Eazy – brands that have made a name in their own respective work. [peep his portfolio webpage www.alexmcdonell.com to see a deep list of projects he’s worked on]

If you continue to scroll up his feed, you will see image after image of captivating movements and color that reflect the kind of photos he took three years ago, but with a noticeable evolution in every new post. Each one ultimately led to his unveiling of feelings, a hat-driven business that emerged during a time lucrative for fashion entrepreneurs, specifically hat ones. The reveal included a three-piece collection of hats piled on top of each other in denim blue, tan and light pink. To no amazement, Alex failed to conform to many of today’s start-up marketing strategies. Instead of attaching a popular face to the brand or involving half-naked women, Alex built legitimate campaigns for his product. He envisioned and created stages with vibrant color and filled it with people that oddly fit the scene to perfection. He then elevated the level of production with simplistic video promotions of his subjects dancing on camera to The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – see clip here. These descriptions alone are unable to give justice to the style of marketing he employs throughout his campaigns. However, I’m beginning to realize that his style of marketing is not a style more or less his actual personality when dealing with art.

His creativity has brought him to work with other unique visionaries such as Austin Simkins, a director, photographer and founder of Salty State Collective – projects include directed and edited music video of “She Go” by Skipper featuring Jay Ant (produced by IAMSU!). Alex has also worked with Dante Marshall – also known as Dante Digital – who was featured in a recent
Wells Fargo campaign honoring creatives of the African American Community.

He has acknowledged early in his career as a businessman that one avenue of work isn’t enough for a person who began his journey with art. Because art takes many forms and Alex McDonell is discovering just that. Although young in the hat game, the feelings brand is welcomed with open arms by much of the company’s audience. Even actress Keke Palmer, who recently performed in the live television version of “Grease” on Fox, was seen repping a feelings cap. Remember not to limit Alex’s work to only dad hats because you’ll probably take an L for that. But do keep your eyes on his brand feelings, for more R&B/Soul artists are popping up that might force you to carry your heart on your hat and sleeve.  Plus, he has a pretty sweet color palate of hats to choose from. Stay tuned for what’s to come from Alex McDonell as an entrepreneur, a feelings supporter and as an artistic visionary.

Follow Alex on twitter [@thealexmcdonell] & Instagram [@_alexmcdonell] and check out his brand feelings on Instagram
[@feelingsbyalex] and its online store [www.feelingsbyalex.com]

Notable mentions – Austin Simkins [@saltystate] & Dante Marshall [@dantedigital]

Ps. I will join the squad once your store is back in stock with feelings hats.
Yes people, he sells out his product.

Written by Martin Fredrick