The Assemblist Letter 13 - Reviewing Art's Influence on Contemporary Fashion

Photos by Joanne Pio and Illustration by Lily Qian. Revisit our stories with Nikki Chasin, Heidi Merrick, Whitney Pozgay and our press preview in partnership with Production Showroom.

Before I started Brand Assembly

I was working for a designer named Kimberly Ovitz who was very inspired by art and photographs and generally very conceptual ideas, all while building a contemporary fashion brand. She struggled a lot of the times with being conceptual and pushing the boundaries of art and fashion while simultaneously having a business. I think that this is something a lot of designers struggle with, but there are a lot of contemporary fashion designers who are now more easily blending the lines and have a better understanding of how to apply the art that inspires them into their designs. An example being incorporating something like prints, which you see a lot of and is an element that happens to be really relatable and understandable in terms of merging both fashion and art.

Here at Brand Assembly we see a lot of our designers doing this really well, a couple that come to mind include Whitney Pozgay (who includes a print or art-inspired and collaborative aspect every season) and Nikki Chasin. I personally tend to gravitate to designers who have print and color in their lines. All of these elements really add another level of marketability to each collection which always helps! For example, Korovilas also did a collaboration with a charity foundation that benefits those with loss of extremities - all of the designs were done with other body parts. The pieces were interpreted in such an inspiring way and the collection itself was able to give back to a really amazing cause.

My own experiences in art have helped shaped my point of view on this as well. When I went to Duke I was a visual arts and studio arts double major. I studied the history aspect but was also creating it - I loved to do sculpture and etching (which unfortunately is a dying craft). I’ve always been interested in art and I’ve always been creative in terms of my output, so getting into fashion was a natural progression for me. When I was doing studio art I considered it to be more of a hobby, I was concentrating primarily on the art history aspect of it which really intrigued me because I loved the story behind a painting. I feel like that is also something that is exemplified in fashion, there is a story behind every designer and how they’re inspired. With that said, I didn’t think I was going to be so interested in the business side when I first started working in fashion! I worked retail right out of college, while funnily enough, trying to find a job in the arts. I was working at a Kate Spade store in Georgetown, D.C. and soon enough developed a love affair for what I was doing! It was really because of studying art that I’m now here.

With our experiences at Brand Assembly and discovering this group of highly conceptual designers who really know their market, I think when a designer ventures out to start their line it’s important to have a true understanding of what their goal is for their business. If they are more conceptual and are really doing this for artistic expression, it’s important to know if that’s something that can translate in the business. It's really important to also consider what they can introduce into the business to make it more sustainable and consumer-oriented. It’s safe to say that the relationship between art and fashion is strong - but at the end of the day my biggest piece of advice is for designers to understand their end goal, and of course their art!

- HILLARY FRANCE, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF BRAND ASSEMBLY


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