The Minimalist Brand That Reinterprets Classic Wardrobe Staples Into Works Of Art
The pieces are eco-friendly, too.
The fashion industry is notorious for spearheading a fast-paced trend cycle and for birthing novelty brand collaborations left and right. The neoteric creations are exciting, holding people’s attention for a season or two before they fade away. Every so often, however, there are designers who go against the grain — who choose to tune out all the buzz in order to revisit the building blocks of one’s wardrobe and refine them. Fashion designer Ashlynn Park is one of these creatives who embraces the idea of slow fashion.
The South Korean creative launched her eponymous label, ASHLYN (spelled without the extra n), in 2019 with a singular focus: to master the art of tailoring through a modern lens. For Park, a mundane white button-down shirt is transformed into an off-the-shoulder top complete with a wool bustier on top, a crepe suit jacket is reworked with elongated ties and bondage straps (paired with cotton poplin shirts that explore unexpected folds). The feminine garments are sculptural yet wearable and never boring.
“ASHLYN [designs] are modern interpretations of traditional tailoring. [I pay] close attention to the cut with references to historical silhouettes and [create] minimal designs,” Park tells TZR over a Zoom call. “It is my intention for each collection to bypass trends and be worn season after season.”
Her thoughtful and restrained eye was epitomized in Park’s debut Fall/Winter 2021 collection. The lineup was a mix of strong deconstructed tailoring juxtaposed with voluminous shapes and minimal knitwear dresses. The color palette was a soothing mix of black, white, toffee — with a pop of cardinal red by way of a skirt. The collection, titled “Hibernation,” served as one’s fashion awakening from the sweatpants-induced slumber of the past two years. Park’s gowns, with whimsical cutouts in the back, invited one to dream about parties and vacations. It was the perfect reemergence.
Park finished these 17 looks alone, from the basement of her home in New Jersey during January 2021. “[It was a crazy time] because I had no sewers and all the factories were closed. I decided to stitch [all the looks] myself,” she recalls. Thus, every piece was tailored and fitted to perfection under her trained eye.
This attention to detail and precision in Park’s designs reflect her years of training as a patternmaker. After winning Japan’s prestigious SO-EN Award back in 2008, she kick-started her fashion career in this position for renowned designer Yohji Yamamoto and his menswear line. It was there that Park refined her sewing and patternmaking skills, the latter an area she had little experience in prior to her position at the Japanese brand.
“Working for Yohji early in my career instilled in me a great respect for the incredible artistry he put into his work, [especially] the attention to every detail and the focus on perfecting the interior construction of the garment,” Park says. “I will continue to work in this way and share this with my team and future generations of designers.”
With a strong sense of craftsmanship under her belt, Park then took her technical talents to New York City in 2011. Her fashion stints included designing runway pieces at Alexander Wang and working alongside Raf Simons during his tenure as creative director of Calvin Klein 205W39NYC. When she officially launched ASHLYN in 2019, Park was in a prime spot to take the reins as a creative director.
The Spring/Summer 2022 collection reflected Park’s mastery of turning conceptual ideas into wearable works of art. The title for this was “Capturing the Now,” where she explored what it means to be present. According to her designer notes, the designs included “deep pleats and ruffles in organic cotton pepper billowing sleeves and cinched waistlines to reflect the folds of time.” Meanwhile, the Renata dress was created via “intricate draping techniques that captured the design process in real time.” The simplistic palette of black, white, and red remained in this seasonal roundup — a Park signature (with the inclusions of splashes of soft blue and salmon pink).
One of Park’s main missions for her label ties neatly back to her penchant for renouncing trend-driven fast fashion. The designer incorporates several thoughtful, earth-conscious components into ASHLYN. For one, all of Park’s pieces are made-to-order. “I do not produce a garment unless an order or sale is confirmed,” she says. “I also offer bespoke tailoring — a pre-order option that allows me to responsibly create custom garments that are produced only after an order has been received. My business model is based on the principle of eliminating waste in my designs.”
She takes the latter idea a step further with her Zero Waste capsule collections. In her Spring/Summer 2022 collection, for instance, she used a draping technique to construct many of the looks. Here, a large piece of fabric is draped over a body form to create the silhouette. This differs from a cut and sew method, where one cuts out various shapes from a square piece of material and then sews them together to create the form. This can result in scraps of unused textile. (If there are excess clippings, Park uses them to stuff the bumrolls styled under many of her garments.)
The designer also shares that she prioritizes the use of low-impact natural fibers such as linen, reiterative wool, and organic cotton. Her materials are sourced from Japan while the pieces themselves are handmade in her design studio — located in the garment district of New York City.
As we wrap up our conversation, I ask Park for details about her upcoming Fall/Winter 2022 collection. Understandably, she declines to divulge the surprises she has in store. For the curious, though, one only needs to reference her previous works to know that this new range will exemplify craftsmanship and celebrate a timeless aesthetic.
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