Few names are as synonymous with American fashion as Michael Kors. And with the brand celebrating its 40th anniversary, looking back on his first years in the business made the designer feel extra reflective about what it means, in particular, to be a new designer in the big city. Hence, Michael Kors’ new partnership with Ashya, a small Brooklyn-based label, dreamt up to offer a sort of platform to the masses.
“Planning for the anniversary last year, and remembering my own start in business, made me think about the challenges that young brands face today,” explains Kors, who chose the young American-Jamaican duo, Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece of the accessories brand Ashya, to create a limited-edition capsule of two exclusive bags.
“After what we’ve been through globally, I think we’re all looking forward to what’s ahead,” adds Kors. “The past few years have really shown us the importance of working together and of supporting our communities. For me that’s fashion, and also New York. Partnering with an up-and-coming brand is a way of fostering that sense of togetherness while welcoming fresh perspectives.”
When it came time to collaborate, the designers switched offices to take in the respective aesthetics and DNA of each brand. Cimone and Annece came to the Michael Kors office in Manhattan and Kors visited their studio in Industry City in Brooklyn. “Both of our brands started out in New York and are very connected to the city, but we also share a curiosity about the world and a love of travel that unites,” mused Kors.
For the occasion, Kors worked with Ashya to create a custom print that includes the signature MK logo in a new iteration inspired by West African weaving techniques, dubbed the Saga print. For Ashya, putting an emphasis on textiles as a storytelling mechanism has always been intrinsic to the brand, so they looked to the line-work and shapes within African weaving as the main influence. The common ground between the two designers? An effortless approach to luxury. “Michael’s vision for pared-down luxury from the very beginning of his design career is what stands out to us most, so in thinking through how to stay true to Ashya, that came fluidly because we too look to design pared-down luxury,” explains Cimone.
The bags themselves are versions of Ashya’s signature styles; they are unisex and they can be worn in numerous ways, some still yet to be discovered: one of the major appeals to Kors himself. “I love that the bags are streamlined and can be styled in different ways, so they work as well for travel as for stepping out in the city,” he says. Likewise, “Our customers and friends of the brand often inspire new ways of wearing the bags,” explains Cimone. The Multi Bag retails for $498 and the Bolo Bag retails for $298.
For Ashya, the designers felt the collaboration offered up a rare sort of affirmation that, for many emerging designers, doesn’t come easily. “We’re often working in what feels like a silo, with little awareness of who’s watching or admiring from afar,” says Annece. “The launch of our collaboration together is an official global coming out for Ashya, sharing our work with the world at a scale beyond our imaginations at this point of our growth, so excitement is truly an understatement.”
As the brand evolves, Kors is keeping an eye on the future, with more potential collaborations with young designers possibly on the horizon. “I think it’s important to support the next generation of designers,” he adds. “Fashion is always looking to the future and is propelled by new ideas and perspectives. Young people, especially, have such a fearless attitude. It’s energizing.”
*This is an article from VOGUE published on January 12, 2022; See the original article here.
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