Words by Arielle Myers
While Ann Yee hails from the great American industrial city of Detroit, she has made her home and her business here in New York City. Ann Yee Collection reflects the influence of city life on the designer, both in inspiration and construction. Her background in knitwear design critically informs her design process and material choices, while she creates for “the modern nomad,” a woman sprung from the metropolitan landscape she dwells in.
Layers and textures figure heavily in her work, as well as in her own wardrobe. Ann Yee’s personal style has been featured in almost just as many notable publications as her collections have, TimeOut magazine even called her one of the Most Stylish New Yorkers of 2013.
“I'm all about comfort and layering so sweaters are key players in my personal style. Of course, I'm most drawn to cool yarns, but anything that's novel and has an interesting surface always catches my eye.”
As an authority in mixing slouchy knits with structured layering pieces, Ann imbues her collection with the same type of chic ease that she personally advocates. She creates collections in effortlessly cool palettes, and pieces that transition well from season-to-season, and between urban biomes. While knitwear has become the focus of ANN YEE Collection, one can always expect sophisticated angles and plays on proportion, as tailored jackets and cropped trousers compliment the relaxed vibe of the beautiful sweaters. The designer thoughtfully sources cashmere blends, structured tweeds, felted wool; fabrics that are simultaneously durable and sumptuous.
“I'm drawn to knitwear because of all the textures. I love experimenting with different yarns and stitches; the possibilities are endless. It has become my signature, but in an organic way. I actually started the line with mostly woven pieces, but I slowly started adding more sweater pieces to the mix and the feedback was positive. Now the collection has evolved into a knit-centric line, which I'm proud of.”
Stay connected with Ann Yee: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Young & Able Emerging Designer Series: Ann Yee from Young & Able on Vimeo.
Take a walk through New York City's Garment Center with designer Ann Yee, as she shows us how she sources materials and works with local factories to create her designs.
We got a glimpse into the designer's world and learned that since her line's inception in 2010, Ann has made 95% of her collection locally in NYC. It's clear that Ann enjoys working with local craftsmen and manufacturers, which also gives her an element of control over the quality of each garment.
Ann creates each collection with comfort and functionality in mind, while achieving the ever-elusive balance of uptown chic and downtown cool. Ann is drawn to texture and finds that combining different materials together is a steadfast way to make a dynamic piece. And with knitwear being the foundation of her line, she always incorporates an element of knit in each collection. Her SS 14 collection features easy-to-wear pieces like the effortlessly elegant Jessa Tweed Blocked Dress, Synne Silk Sweatpant and versatile Alette Shadow Jacquard Crop Top.
EMERGING DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT: GET TO KNOW ANN YEE
Interview by Jennifer Wang
Meet Ann Yee, the New York designer behind her own eponymous label, which is known for easy-to-wear knits, jackets and dresses that perfectly balance sophistication with downtown edge. Her Spring 2014 collection features light and airy pieces with a decidedly feminine vibe. We interviewed the designer to see how she got her start in fashion and how far she has come today.
(Above)Ann's moodboard from her spring collection
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF WHERE ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM? WHEN DID YOU MAKE THE MOVE TO NYC?
I'm originally Michigan so I'm a mid-westerner at heart. I've always been interested in fashion, but didn't think it was a realistic career path. It took a bit of encouragement from friends to pursue it in college. My parents, being as traditional as they are, weren't on board at first. With a little convincing (and help from my older brother!), they decided to let me move away to study fashion design in Philadelphia. After graduation, I moved to NYC in the summer of '04 and started working at a private label company designing sweaters. I knew I'd eventually want to start my own business, but wanted to get some solid experience under my belt first. That was very important to me.
WHERE YOU ALWAYS INTERESTED IN FASHION DESIGN? WHAT WAS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND STARTING YOUR OWN COLLECTION?
I've always loved clothes and designing. I remember drawing figures in grade school and making dresses for my barbies out of tissues! My parents have their own business so I definitely got the entrepreneurial bug from them. With their encouragement, advice, and support, I was able to start my own business.
OUR CURRENT COLLECTION IS BASED AROUND KNITWEAR. WHY THE INTEREST IN KNITWEAR? DO YOU BELIEVE THIS WILL BE YOUR SIGNATURE IN FASHION? IS THIS REFLECTED IN YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
I'm drawn to knitwear because of all the textures. I love experimenting with different yarns and stitches - the possibilities are endless. It has become my signature, but in an organic way. I actually started the line with mostly woven pieces, but I slowly started adding more sweater pieces to the mix and the feedback was positive. Now the collection has evolved into a knit-centric line, which I'm proud of. I'm all about comfort and layering so sweaters are key players in my personal style especially when the temperatures drop!
HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME INVOLVED WITH YOUNG & ABLE? WHAT DOES THE MISSION MEAN TO YOU AS A DESIGNER?
There are so many emerging designers on the scene right now so platforms like Young & Able's are extremely helpful. It's nice to have consumers get a behind the scenes taste of what actually goes into producing a collection. This helps to create a better connection between designers and customers, which is great.
CAN YOU ELABORATE ON YOUR PARTICULAR DESIGN PROCESS? WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU PREFER? WHO OR WHAT DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM? HOW DOES THE ALL COME TOGETHER?
I start with a concept and then I begin researching extensively. I collect tons of images and create a mood board. I then begin sourcing materials based on my inspiration. Of course, I'm most drawn to cool yarns, but anything that's novel and has an interesting surface always catches my eye. Inspiration for me can come from anywhere - a film, a friend, what I ate for dinner; it can be anything. Once I have all this collected information, I can finally sketch.
WHAT DOES FASHION MEAN TO YOU?
Fashion is my passion and creative outlet. It's not only my artistic expression, but my self-expression.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS A DESIGNER?
-Being selected as one of Gen Art's Fresh Faces in Fashion
-Getting into my first international boutique
-Seeing someone on TV wear a piece from the collection
-Deciding to leave my full-time job and commit 100% to my own business
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING FASHION DESIGNERS?
Try and gain as much real industry experience as you can before starting your own business. Know that running your own fashion line is probably 90% business and 10% design, so it wouldn’t hurt to take a business course…
Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. I wouldn’t be here without the support of my amazing family and friends. Attitude is EVERYTHING. My glass is always half full.