Yoon Ahn On Business, Fashion, And How To Do Everything At Once

 Yoon Ahn On Business, Fashion, And How To Do Everything At Once


Has streetwear’s reign over trend actually ended? Statements to that impact have been made by main publications and designers alike — notably, the late, nice Virgil Abloh himself. However Yoon Ahn, the Tokyo-based mind behind Ambush and Dior Homme’s jewellery line, begs to vary. 

“The streetwear that lots of people acknowledge took form in 2013, 2014, when it merged with the posh world,” Ahn says. Nonetheless, the subculture itself goes a lot additional again. “Perhaps the look that was created is passing,” she provides, referring to the outsized hoodies and sneakers each luxurious model has since launched. “However they’re speaking a couple of sure pattern, fairly than what streetwear really stands for.” 

Seems to be from Ambush’s August/Winter 2022 assortment. Picture: Courtesy

From drops to hyped-up collaborations, streetwear’s legacy is now inextricable from luxurious as we all know it. That is true of not solely enterprise fashions however the folks helming manufacturers, and Ahn’s rising affect on the business is a working example. 

A Korean-American graphic turned jewellery designer, in 2008 she based Ambush together with her husband, the rapper Verbal, to promote designs accenting 90s hip hop and streetwear with Japanese futurism. Instantly wanted amongst tastemakers and rappers throughout the globe, the label’s nostalgic, statement-making {hardware} was bolstered by a ready-to-wear line in 2016, by which period Ahn’s community spanned the likes of Abloh, Kanye West, and Kim Jones. 

However Ahn didn’t cease there. In 2017, the duo was named a finalist for the LVMH Prize. The next yr, she was appointed jewellery designer to Jones’ Dior Homme. And in early 2020, New Guards Group, the Milan-based proprietor of manufacturers together with Off-White and Heron Preston, acquired Ambush for an undisclosed sum quickly after it was itself bought by Farfetch in a $675 million (4.9 billion RMB) deal. 

Till then, all of Ambush’s operations had been based mostly in Japan. The objective was to take advantage of New Guards Group’s scale and capital to go international, however the pandemic threw a spanner within the works. Now, the label’s bodily community is slowly however certainly rising. Earlier this yr, it partnered with I.T Group to open the primary mainland Chinese language Ambush outpost in Shanghai’s Taikoo Li, and this month sees the launch of a standalone retailer in Hong Kong. 

Ambush’s flagship retailer in Taikoo Li options an LED sphere showcasing model movies from the vault. Picture: Ambush’s web site

One of many first issues on Ahn’s to-do checklist is an in-person go to to cities like Shanghai, Chengdu, and Beijing, the place Ambush has an even bigger presence. “We’re nonetheless a distinct segment model, so the [Chinese customers] who know us have to learn and curious by nature,” notes Ahn, who launched the model on Tmall in April. “A number of the knowledge I’ve is from a distance. I’m hoping to study extra about how we will construct content material that pertains to the native market fairly than talking from the place I’m.”

As an Asian-American artistic that’s labored in each Japan and Europe, Ahn isn’t any stranger to the eurocentrism on the core of the style and luxurious industries. “Individuals at all times look to Asia as a spot that consumes,” she explains, linking this to an underlying lack of respect for markets like China. “A number of issues are pushed by monetary causes…I perceive the frustration.” 

In spite of everything, the designer nonetheless remembers feeling like an outsider. Wanting again at her time in trend, Ahn describes her identification as that of an “admiring fan” turned “vacationer” and now “citizen,” well-versed however nonetheless studying the ups and downs of a magnetic but cutthroat business. This got here all the way down to swallowing a tough reality. “We create magnificence, however it’s nonetheless enterprise ultimately. It’s necessary for designers like me to search out pleasure on this limitless cycle of issues to churn out, and have an understanding of the place the world is rising and going as a social place.” 

Although “churn” makes gentle of Ahn’s work throughout codecs, her work ethic is continuous. On prime of helming Ambush and dealing on Dior Homme, she advises the likes of Beats by Dre by way of her and Verbal’s artistic consultancy, and markets her private model by way of social media. All of the whereas, she’s juggling an ever-growing checklist of multimedia initiatives and collaborations, which she’s notably fluent in, having made her mark throughout luxurious’s streetwear growth. 

Most not too long ago, the designer celebrated a cereal crossover with Reese’s Puffs, which spanned a limited-edition bag and cereal bowl solid in futuristic chrome, and “breakfastland,” an interactive on-line area accessible through Ambush’s metaverse platform, Silver Fctry. Bullish on Web3, she sees each bodily mission as a chance to bridge actual life with the digital world; constructing the model’s personal metaverse platform, fairly than housing it on Decentraland or The Sandbox, ensured she’d have complete artistic freedom.

The Ambush x Reese’s Puffs collaboration features a limited-edition bag that doubles as a cereal bowl. Picture: Yoon Ahn’s Twitter

After all, Ahn has additionally overseen her justifiable share of trend crossovers. There’s an ongoing partnership with Nike, which incorporates each ready-to-wear and the favored Air Modify Drive sneakers, and a Levi’s capsule simply this fall, that includes basic denim types adorned with Ambush’s signature silver-plated bottle caps. 

Each aesthetically in addition to in pedigree, the latest collaborations level to how Ahn is rising her identify whereas staying true to Ambush’s roots. Fairly than calling Ambush a model, she refers to it as a platform. “We obtained into so many collaborations that I don’t like the standard means of [labeling] it. Sure, it’s a part of our DNA however we need to see how that may spur different concepts.”

And amid trend’s collab frenzy, she describes the balancing act of preserving her model identification and spontaneous experimentation as an intuitive one. “I’ve been very selective, and solely say sure to those who I do know are the most effective of their fields — that means, I can study,” she remarks. “It’s about realizing what’s going to match and whether or not or not I can deliver one thing new to the desk. However in the event you solely do issues that you just count on, there’s no enjoyable in doing it.” 

Certainly, when requested about her dream mediums and collaborators, her solutions vary from the massive display, the place she’d have ample room to discover graphics, music, styling, and storytelling; to Elon Musk, with whom she may devise outer-space purposes for Ambush’s futuristic designs. 

It’s lots for one mind to ponder, however multitasking throughout mediums and disciplines is Ahn’s resting state. “I’ve put myself on this state of affairs as a result of I understand how my mind capabilities, and I understand how to stimulate myself…I don’t assume in a linear type, I prefer to bounce,” she says, evaluating her mind-set to an old-school cellular sport. “I need to join the dots — I do know it’s going to all make sense.”



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