“Not thinking is so important for creativity,” explains fashion designer Yoon Ahn. “Airing out all the noise in my head will help me to move more instinctively.” Between designing her own Ambush line, serving as the director of jewelry for Dior Men, and collaborating with beloved brands from Beats, to Nike, to Moët & Chandon, it may seem like there’s little time to slow down and not think. But, as the creative explains over email, she’s taking the summer to reframe and reset, working from new settings around Japan, where she currently calls home.
Ahn was born in South Korea, grew up outside of Seattle, and moved to Tokyo in 2003. There, the self-taught fashion creative launched her line in 2008, starting with jewelry, and adding ready-to-wear in 2015. With the advent of social media, Ahn’s presence on Instagram has become both an important tool for her business and a window into her personal style. There, she’s able to announce the newest shoe launch (a dark blue and white Dunk coming to the US in June), while also sharing selfies as she travels around the world.
Whether she’s sitting front row at a Louis Vuitton show or biking around Tokyo’s Shibuya neighborhood, Ahn’s personal style is immaculate but relaxed. She may be posing in Bottega Veneta’s viral shearling coat, but it’s just as likely she’s in jeans and a tee — finished with a Birkin, of course. And, you know her collection of both jewelry and sneakers is one to rival the best. The through-line in Ahn’s dressing habits is that it’s playful, styling vintage with new elements, mixing textures and silhouettes, and never feeling overly polished or stuffy.
Below, Ahn talks more about her personal style, shopping habits, and how she handles a life that’s constantly on the go.
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How has your personal style evolved over the last few months? What is your current uniform?
Vintage Levi’s, lots of crochets, vintage t-shirts, vintage Hermès, and a pair of Nikes.
Maybe because warm weather is approaching, I'm feeling something chilled and easygoing. Also, I shop in my own closet and rediscover some stuff I put away a long time ago.
Can you name a favorite pair of Nikes?
What piece of jewelry is most important to you? What jewelry do you wear every day?
My hair is growing out now, and [I’ve] been wearing it uptight and in a ponytail almost every day, so I make sure to have earrings every day.
It varies each week and month depending on what I'm into and what my mood is. I'm not too fond of rules and swear-by things. I like to be sporadic. It's more fun to wear jewelry like this, like picking out dessert for yourself after a full meal.
What are your travel essentials?
[It] depends where I'm heading and what the travel is for. I have separate bags for each situation.
Most essential are my vitamins. Nothing ruins the trip like [being] tired or sick, so I make sure I pack on vitamin C.
How do you pack when you're moving between work and a more relaxed environment across countries and cities?
[For] work I tend to pack more since I'm on the run and oftentimes, I'm heading to places that I don’t know what might come up, so it’s good to have backups and just-in-case items and clothes with me.
Whereas vacation is easier. It's my private time and I often head to warmer places like beaches so I don’t need clothes. I just live out of my bikinis and one pair of sandals. I go on vacations to let it go in a good way.
How would you describe your personal style? What pieces make up your personal uniform?
Frankly, it's a bit of everything, but there is always a sense of comfort and mixture I seek in coordination. I love the juxtaposition of something quite masculine with a feminine piece, like my Hermes Birkins with a $10 t-shirt I found at a vintage shop. Or something sporty like Nike with the finest silk dress. It creates a fun energy, mood, and space for me to express myself.
When you have time to pamper yourself, what luxuries do you swear by?
Having my own time in itself is a luxury in city life, to be honest. The easy one would be a 90-minute massage somewhere in the city to ease the tension and stress. And maybe a quick shopping spree online to treat myself. But these are all temporary things.
Right now I'm planning to do remote work from different parts of Japan like from a forest, beach, or remote farm area. I need to take myself out physically to create time and space for my mind and brain. That will be a real luxury for me this summer.
What are your favorite things to do in your off time?
Currently idling. Not thinking is so important for creativity as airing out all the noise in my head will help me to move more instinctively.
Other than that, recently I'm into vintage camera- and watch-shopping.
What is the most treasured fashion item that you own? Why?
A dress my mom gave me that she wore before I was born.
Do you have any favorite emerging designers that you have your eye on?
Actually, I need to catch up again as recently I was too busy digging into the past stuff that I didn’t really pay attention to emerging designers.