Anson Lee is a recent graduate from Parsons School of Design. He has experience in both menswear and womenswear, and specializes in men’s tailoring. He developed a passion for tailoring as a student when he came to understand how tailoring techniques ensure the quality and longevity of clothing.
This slow-paced process subverts the contemporary fashion industry which prioritizes speed and novelty. Utilizing traditional tailoring techniques, Anson aims to create contemporary clothing that celebrates craftsmanship. In addition to innovative designs, he believes in the importance of carefully constructed handcrafted garments. Made with love and compassion, Anson intends to reestablish this missing narrative in the fashion industry. Anson has interned for Proenza Schouler, Eckhaus Latta, and Thom Browne.
INTERVIEW WITH ANSON LEE
When did you decide to become a fashion designer?
I decided to become a fashion designer around the age of 16. Before that, I studied fine art for 6 years and always enjoyed drawing and making. Over the years, I fell into the routine of creating art to impress my teachers and classmates. It became very academic-driven and didn’t allow me to find my voice. I have always been interested in fashion since a young age so fashion naturally became my ultimate career choice.
Do you or your family have any background in the fashion industry? If yes, how has this helped you?
None of my family members worked directly in the industry. I had an aunt who worked at a magazine that sometimes covered articles on young designers and trends in Hong Kong. She and my mom were the most fashionable people I knew as a kid and they two had a huge influence on why I wanted to become a fashion designer.
Describe yourself as a creative in a few words and how your label was born?
I think I would describe myself as passionate and sentimental. This brand was born because of my passion for hand-tailoring and making. I thought these processes hold so much value and subvert the modern-day fashion industry that operates at a much more rapid pace. However, this sense of fastness resulted in clothing being less valued and treasured because there is always something newer.
The goal for my brand is to create clothing that is crafted with care and love so that it can be treasured for years.– Anson Lee
What is the most challenging issue for an independent label based in New York City?
I think the challenging part of being an independent designer in NYC is gaining recognition among so many talented designers. From my experience, I learned the importance of finding your voice and creating a world that people would want to be part of.
How do you manage to choose your collaborators in order to spread better the message behind your label?
In my debut collection, I collaborated with independent artisans that also value the importance of craft. I worked with a local carpenter and artist to hand-make accessories for my collection. Every piece created is slightly different and unique since they are individually handcrafted, a quality that is lost in machinery manufacturing. Therefore as wearers put on my clothes they are constantly reminded of the importance of labor and craft.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for you after the pandemic?
The fashion industry after the pandemic was especially difficult as raw material costs increased significantly and many factories experienced closure for a very long duration. The overall unemployment rate also went up causing a more competitive job market. As a young designer, this became especially difficult to fund my brand. However, it also taught me to be self-reliant. Handling all processes in producing a garment, including patterning, embroidery, sewing, etc. allows me to manufacture during the pandemic as well as lower production costs.
How do you think your label can play an important role in your daily client’s life?
Ultimately I want to make clothes for people so that they feel confident and unique. I want my clothes to remind them that what they are wearing is so much more than just a piece of fabric. It is a combination of our mutual interests and respect for fashion. It is something that is meant to be treasured and admired.
What do you think about the opportunity of selling your pieces online nowadays?
I think online retailing will continue to be an extremely important tool in today’s industry. For my label, I would like to retain the elements of working with clients on a one-on-one basis. I believe in the importance of returning to a slow process of manufacturing, creating clothes that are perfectly fitted to each client’s body type. Especially in tailoring, these types of garments are meant to last for years. However, as my brand, I will definitely utilize different online platforms to advertise and spread my message.
Imagine that you must write a letter to your FUTURE SELF. What would you write?
I think I would simply say just continue to work hard and believe in your skills and ability. Work ethic is a value that was ingrained in my mind since I was a little kid. My grandparent and parents are all extremely hard working and have shown by example that work ethic and perseverance are the most important tools one can have to achieve success.