I’d hope that my designs would appeal to guys and gals who, like myself, enjoy owning unique things, supporting small businesses and contributing to a sustainable lifestyle.
If you caught an earlier Street Style post that featured Ashley and her boyfriend Blake, you already know that the recent college grad is a blogger, philosophy scholar and accomplished visual artist. The launch of aendee — her new women’s fashion line available on Etsy — makes her an official fashion designer as well. Here’s a look inside the process of this up and coming designer.
How would you describe the line?
“Boho-retro… I love the cleanliness and simplicity of retro silhouettes and designs but I also love the color and texture of a more boho aesthetic. I guess I combine the two in my daily wardrobe as well. I’m usually sporting one piece of clothing or an accessory that is way older than I am.”
Who is your ideal customer??
“I’d hope that my designs would appeal to guys and gals who, like myself, enjoy owning unique things, supporting small businesses and contributing to a sustainable lifestyle. It’s so easy to get caught up in brand names or to go in the opposite direction – buying whatever is cheapest. But when you buy a handmade item of clothing you know where your money is going and what your purchase is supporting. My ideal customer is very conscientious of these things and also interested in having a one-of-a-kind article of clothing or accessory.”
When did you first get interested in designing clothing?
“My first job ever was at a fabric store when I was sixteen, but I had started sewing things by hand before that. The first reconstruction I ever remember doing was a skirt made from a bunch of old t shirts patched together by hand. I stole an elastic band from a pair of my brothers underwear for the waistband of that skirt and I remember wearing it to the hospital with a pair of wooden clogs when my niece was born. I was fifteen. I got a sewing machine for my sixteenth birthday and the combination of having a machine and working at the fabric store really got me going.”
What’s your design process like?
“I do a lot of really bad sketches for shirts. I majored in art and have done plenty of drawing, but the sketches for my shirts are always kind of quick and sloppy. Some designers have sketches that they could sell as works of fine art. Mine are more like kid’s drawings. I will doodle some designs and play with necklines and color blocking, but I never know exactly what a shirt will look like until I start cutting the fabric. I never use patterns but I do use other items of clothing as a guideline for the fit of a shirt. There is a lot of improvisation and play in the process of creating the final product and that is what I like most about what I do.”
What fabrics inspire you?
“I am really drawn to certain colors: pea green, coral, mustard yellow, and blues. I also love to contrast bold prints with plain colors. Florals and geometric patterns are fun to play around with and I love to overlay sheers and lace on bright colors.
I get my materials almost exclusively at thrift stores or as donations from friends who are getting rid of clothes. I have a huge stockpile of buttons and threads and other notions that I’ve built over the years so I don’t find myself making too many trips to the fabric or craft store for these types of things. I like to reduce waste in the process of production so I reuse and recycle as many materials as I can – this includes my packaging!”
Why did you decide to upcycle for your line instead of working in a more traditional manner?
“It started from my involvement in a livejournal community called t_shirt_surgery, where young guys and girls cut up old shirts and made something new from them – this was back in 2004/2005 when I was still in high school. There are so many shirts that sit on the racks of thrift stores that are never, ever used. Most of the shirts that I work with are either really large, “out of date” or just overlooked for some reason. I want to liberate these articles of clothing from certain doom. There are too many great colors and patterns to not use these shirts as fabric for something more wearable. It is also almost impossible to find interesting patterns in t-shirt material at the fabric store and by spending less on materials I can offer a great price on the finished piece to my customers.”
What are you inspired by?
“Two of my heros are John Dewey and Frederich Nietzsche (sort of unconventional answers, I know). As a Philosophy major their work in aesthetics has served to define my personal philosophy for all things art-related. Dewey in particular had an incredible way of raising one’s awareness of the aesthetic/artistic potential of the mundane and commonplace, his book “Art As Experience” pretty much informs all of my artistic endeavors.
I find myself frequenting www.keikolynn.com quite a bit as well. I’ve lurked on Keiko for years- ever since the days of livejournal- and I absolutely adore her style. I remember being sixteen and stumbling upon her sewing creations and having a really strong desire to be like her and make my own clothes. She’s managed to make a career out of it and that is my ultimate goal- doing what I love for a living!”
Ashley is planning to increase production and expand into menswear and accessories soon as well, so stay tuned to Prairie Style File for updates on this local talent.
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