Thursday, February 1, 2018

a chat with ash white

It always an exciting moment when I stumble upon someone who is changing the way we view clothing and it manufacturing processes. Ash, the creator of the label Ash White, is definitely one of these people. 

The ethical label's stunning designs are all her doing and she transparently shares the people who are the makers behind the line.

My absolute favorite out of her current collection is the Peony Wrap Dress in any of the colors (I have the peach, did I mention it is stunning?!) From its lovely, billowy sleeves, to its natural rose dyed pattern, it's a keeper for sure. (Added bonus: it's ethically made AND chemical-free!)

Ash kindly answered a few of my nosey questions and what her design process typically looks like. Read below!

What made you decide to take the jump and create the Ash White line?

It was a combination of events that led to the beginning of Ash White, however the jump happened after years of designing for other brands and being in Sri Lanka as the senior textile designer for US giant Victoria’s Secret. It was shortly after my time in Sri Lanka when I decided that I wanted to merge my work with my passion of ethical and sustainable fashion; Ash White is the combination of the two.

Whats the earliest memory you have of wanting to create a clothing brand?

The earliest memory I have of wanting to create a “brand” per-say is 12, when I used to create imitation check books and have inventory lists for the stock in my make-shift store. I do remember making homemade and altered clothes all throughout my childhood and at 19 I sold handmade jewellery and clothing which I made on weekends around my Uni studies at the local market. I learnt the basics of sewing from my Grandmother at age 6.

What questions do you ask before you begin any design project?

I guess I ask myself a few simple questions before starting anything new, however sometimes the questions aren’t answered until the project has begun. I like to follow my instincts and trust in everything is either a blessing or a lesson.

The simple questions I tend to ask myself are:

1 - How are the motives and goals of the project aligned with the Ash White vision?

2 - Is this a project aligned with the core values of Ash White?

3 - Will Ash White, the brand grow and expand from this collaboration? I.e. will the Ash White mission of respecting makers and the planet reach a larger audience through this collaboration?

Do you collect visual inspiration for your designs? If so, how?

As I don’t like to waste paper, I usually create a visual moodboard on pinterest and either take photos of things along the creative journey or quickly sketch ideas in my notepad. The ideas for Ash White come from a variety of sources and sometimes it is hard to create one moodboard. However conceptually it is an important step in the design process as it helps guide your decision making when there are many options to pursue.

What kind of women do you look for when hiring to create the products?

As Ash White is currently a solo project, a lot of my friends are helping me bring life to my ideas. However, I do look for genuine people who love to have a laugh and who are hard working and grounded on this earth. Light heartedness and respect for others are integral components in finding ash white collaborators. These qualities are essential in forming a great team of people who bring form to the Ash White vision. Majority of the workers at the factories in India are men, however I make a conscious effort to partner with factories who value a woman’s role in the family unit and community at large and who are doing wonderful things to create appropriate support systems for these women. Feminine energy is at the heart of Ash White, yet a masculine energy is also present and it is about balancing the two which is the Ash White goal.

If you had to wear one Ash White item everyday, what would you wear and why?

I absolutely adore my Protea Dress - both in charcoal and stripe. It is casual enough to wear to the market or post office, yet it is dressy enough to wear to dinner or a friends birthday. I practically wear it all weekend, every weekend. And it has pockets and I love pockets. It is a very versatile piece and is probably one of my favourite pieces from SS18.

If you could see any one celebrity wearing your designs, who would it be? 

Oh, this is a hard one. However, I would have to say Emma Watson. I really respect and appreciate everything she is doing for women, young girls, the planet and eco-fashion. Saying this, I have idolised Yasmin Sewell for a long while now and if I were to see her at New York fashion week in Ash White, my heart would skip a beat for sure.

Any new or exciting things coming up that you would like to share?

A friend of mine lives in New York and has her own womenswear label which showed at New York Fashion Week last year. We caught up for my birthday recently and discussed a possible collaboration in the not so distant future. I am very excited about this as working in NYC has always been a dream of mine.

Also, the Ash White AW18 collection is dropping in March 2018 and I am really proud of the collection as I had to push through some really tough mental barriers to realise this collection and I owe the final product to my friends who helped me bring my ideas to life.

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