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.
IN CONVERSATION WITH ANSON LEE
How did your passion for design start and how your creative process work?
My passion for design started around the age of 15-16 when I began designing and making clothes. It was a refreshing change from fine art because I was so new to it and I had so much freedom to explore what I was drawn to. I wasn’t doing it for school or a grade so it felt very liberating. My creative process usually starts with a lot of research both conceptually and research on garments. Then it is followed by a lot of hand sketching and exploration with fabric to visualize all my ideas. I also really like talking to my friends and other artists/designers about my concepts to get their feedback and share ideas.
How do you think fashion industry is helping independent designers?
There are competitions and platforms that allow independent designers to showcase their works. However, I think more can be done. For example, in addition to Fashion Week, there could be a space that is reserved for showcasing new talent. Or instead of more established brands having collaborations with each other, they can be more open to collaborating with emerging designers. Small things as such may seem normal to bigger companies but are very incredible opportunities for young designers.
Can you tell us a little bit about your references and inspirations for your garments?
My inspiration usually comes from myself, my interest, my passion, or matters that I think need to be brought to attention. In my creative process, I often turn to history and fine art, drawing inspiration from past garment silhouettes, texture, and color. I conduct historical research on sewing and embroidery techniques. These techniques are oftentimes very intricate but also very brilliant and beautiful. I love reviving these techniques by utilizing them in a modern way.
Can you describe your client’s personality in a few words?
I think my clients are creative individuals who aren’t afraid to stand out. They embrace both their playful side as well as their sophisticated side.
What do you think it’s your best-selling piece?
My best-selling piece is the last look in my collection, a monochromatic set consisting of a long cashmere coat with extra wide-leg trousers. This is funny because that look is actually a last-minute addition to that collection. It was added because I saw the need for a warmer coat and a look with a strong and simple silhouette. I think the customers really responded to something very striking yet effortless.
What do you think about the opportunity of selling your products on online platforms, you think it might be a good showcase for your work and your future?
I think online platforms are great ways to promote. Most of my showcases have been online, especially during the pandemic. Online showcases are especially beneficial for young designers because it eliminates the cost of producing an in-person show. However in terms of selling, I still really enjoy and prefer working with clients on a one-on-one basis.
What does the fashion industry need more to grow up and what can be done better for this?
I think the fashion industry needs to continue to support young designers and designers of color. Though I think there has been significant improvement in the past few years, I would like to continue to see fashion from a different narrative and perspective. Another crucial topic that needs to be addressed is sustainability. The fashion industry is extremely wasteful and as designers, we need to be held accountable for our actions. Sustainable should not be a marketing tool/brand identity. We have reached a point where a sustainable practice must be a core value that designers carry for this industry to have longevity.
What is the long term goal for you as a designer and what is the main mission?
One biggest goals I have for my brand is to influence and push the boundary of men’s wear. Men till this today are much more separated from fashion and menswear has a lot of untapped territories. My goal is not just to design effeminate clothing but rather to challenge what is the meaning of masculinity and demonstrate that masculinity like gender and sexuality is a spectrum.
What are the most interesting social platforms that can help your label?
I think social media in general is a very interesting concept and I am not the best at handling my social media. I think Instagram is perhaps the best way to promote my work. It has so many functions that allow young designers to start their brand and it is perhaps one of the most used platforms currently.
Can you tell us what is the next project?
With my day job, my project is proceeding a bit slower than I would like. However, my day job is crucial to fund my personal work and allows me more insight into the fashion industry. My next project is just a continuation of my passion for tailoring but also expanding pieces that are less uniform as well as expanding into knitwear as well.