Engineered Elegance With Aisling Camps

PHOTOS BY BRIDGET BADORE FOR THE ASSEMBLIST

PHOTOS BY BRIDGET BADORE FOR THE ASSEMBLIST

Here at Brand Assembly our designer community reminds us that the success of a collection is often fueled by an inspiring brand story. 

With today's studio visit in mind you could say that emerging designer Aisling Camps knows a great deal about telling a compelling story. The former mechanical engineering student's unique skill sets have translated into the success of her namesake apparel brand and has certainly given her a tale to tell. "I think people always like to hear the story behind a brand. It makes the purchase of a garment more special," Aisling explained in our interview, "Engineered elegance gives a nod to my past and says very succinctly what I am trying to achieve." Technical, nature-inspired and knit-heavy, the collections are informed by Aisling's meticulous approach to her craft... all of which are distinct qualities we've come to admire the most from this budding talent. 

With our Los Angeles show fast-approaching we wanted to catch up with Aisling (she briefly worked with our co-founder and CEO Hillary France prior to launching her namesake brand!) to find out what she's got coming up for the season ahead and what she's learned about being a fashion designer so far. Inspiring, well-traveled and ever-curious read on for our full chat with the driven designer and also visit The Style Line for an exclusive second part of this interview. 

Please introduce yourself!

Hi I’m Aisling Camps, island girl and parrot owner, just a nerd trying to make beautiful things. To be honest, my profession consumes my life right now so there’s not space for that much else. More than anything when I have free time, I just want to be around great people that inspire me and make me laugh and go on adventures. I don’t ever want to get stuck in a predictable routine. I always want to be growing and challenging myself.

How has the tagline "engineered elegance" evolved as the brand has grown?

I think people always like to hear the story behind a brand. It makes the purchase of a garment more special. Engineered elegance gives a nod to my past and says very succinctly what I am trying to achieve. I used the tagline from day one and feel like it still represents what the brand is about.  

From all of your Capsule collections to Caves where do you usually start when coming up with a design concept? 

There are some design elements that I’m drawn to and continue to play with in each collection: twisting, folding, layering and transparency. Nature often inspires me and I usually start with selecting 5-7 colors from things like an old piece of driftwood with muted greys, yellows and lilacs or a tropical landscape. The SS17 colors were inspired from a dried fallen coconut tree branch that I found in my parents’ driveway. Next I go through tons of color cards from different yarn vendors (mostly Italian) and select the yarns I want to use. After that I sketch and knit swatches and edit my favorites. Once I’ve decided what to make I work out my graphs and start knitting. I keep editing and perfecting usually until I run out of time. Every time I have a presentation or a photoshoot I’m usually adding a piece or changing something up until the last minute.

How did you first connect with Brand Assembly and how would you say being part of the contemporary design community has contributed to the brand’s growth?  

I first came across Brand Assembly while scrolling through Instagram in August. After some quick research I decided to reach out to learn more about the community. Almost immediately Hillary France the CEO and co-founder responded inviting me to come to their office. I interned at Kimberly Ovitz while Hilary was there back in 2012 and she remembered me! I was always impressed by what a powerhouse she was while I was at Kimberly Ovitz and knew that if Brand Assembly was her baby I was connecting with the right people. So far the team has been super encouraging of my work and even offered to highlight me as one of their emerging designers in their tradeshow in LA this October. It has only been a couple of months but I am already feeling optimistic about our relationship.

Aside from the design process what other aspects of running an emerging fashion brand have you come to love the most and what are some aspects that you hope to improve upon over time? 

I get excited about strategizing. I feel like fashion is in flux at the moment with seasons getting blurred, fast fashion churning out imitation product before the luxury brand goods hit the stores and the See Now, Buy Now model being introduced as a result. In a way it is an exciting time to be an emerging designer especially with Instagram allowing small brands to build a following for free. I like the idea of figuring out how to increase visibility in non-traditional ways. That being said, I am still in the initial phases of building the brand and I definitely need to increase my reach and the number of boutiques I sell to.  

What tips can you offer to fellow emerging designers who are looking to build a brand in New York, looking to make a career change or pursue a profession in fashion?

I don’t feel like I’m an authority on the matter. I’m still very much in the middle of figuring out the emerging designer thing myself. All I can say is it’s going to be very difficult and a lot of people are going to have a lot of negative things to say and offer their unsolicited opinions. You’re going to have to develop a thick skin and be ready for a lot of people telling you no or you’re not ready before you find the ones who believe in you and support you. Once you find those people though, keep them close. As far as career changes go I say be fearless and go for it. The worst thing that can happen is that you fail but that’s better than the what ifs. You can never truly fail anyways, it’s more like being rerouted in a more suitable direction. There’s nothing worse than being stagnant in my opinion. 

What do you assemble daily?

Relationships. For the most part I am a one woman show and it can be extremely taxing to do everything by yourself. Learning who to reach out to for what is so important and delegating tasks if possible can really be a life saver. It is so crucial to nurture those relationships to build your support system and team.