May 17, 2012

Designer Spotlight: Jill Aiko Yee

Photo: Hollywood Style Scene
I just love the Internet and blogging community! Why you ask? Because I get to meet fabulous people like Jill Aiko Yee, a Los Angeles based designer who contacted me after coming across the blog. In her email she sent me a few pictures of her most recent designs and I was immediately a fan! Her aesthetic is what you would expect of any West Coast designer--ease, comfort, fun and flowy. Yet, what I think sets Jill apart is her more sophisticated take on these aspects...dare I say there is a hint of East Coast?

Jill was kind of enough to do an interview via email, but we plan to get together in L.A. for some shopping and a visit to her studio next month... So stay tuned for part two. Until then enjoy getting to know more about my new friend Jill Aiko Yee!

FR: You recently started your clothing line, how did you know that creating a clothing line and designing is what you wanted to do? How has the journey/experience been so far?

Jill: Ever since I was young I knew I wanted to have my own company.  My dad did, and so did his dad.  But it wasnt until I graduated Otis College of Art and Design, and worked for Rozae Nichols that I knew I would stick with fashion.  I had an amazing experience there that opened my eyes to all of design, and its possibilities.  The journey so far has been challenging in every aspect, but so satisfactory because of that. 

 FR:You have the Jill Aiko Yee Label as well as ITtERATIONS Workwear can you tell me a little bit about each one and what kind of women you see wearing your designs?

Jill: The two labels together can make up a creative woman's wardrobe from morn to evening.  ITtERATIONS Workwear is all about being comfortable for long hours while still expressing personality and creativity.  My namesake label is for AfterWork - wherever a woman may go, be it dinner, gallery, or theater it's chic, and unrestrictive.  While working with CFDA award nominee Gregory Parkinson, I saw that color, and fabric choice go a long way in defining a collection.  I take that philosophy with to my collections.  The women that wear my designs are creative, positive, and socially conscious.  These women pave their own paths.


FR: How do you like having your studio in LA's fashion district? Does it help keep you motivated and inspired?

Jill: I've been in the fashion district of downtown for nearly 10 years now, and consider it my second neighborhood.  I love that my studio is in a historic building of the fashion district, surrounded by showrooms, and fabric stores.  There is so much history and glamour in this area, I think people overlook that because many of the storefronts are cluttered.   All of the fabric, and notions stores inspire me... my fave place to go get lost is the cavernous 3 story warehouse of Ragfinders. 

FR: You are currently producing all of your designs yourself, how has that been? Do you enjoy being able to design and create personally for your customer?

Jill: Doing my own production is quite a challenge, but all worth it because it allows me to do what I love.  It's so special for me to be able to work directly with customers in my design space.  I love customizing garments so they fit each individual perfectly, and hearing what they have to say.  Most designers don't have the opportunity to meet the individuals that wear their clothing, let alone being able to share some champagne, and great conversation.  

FR: Why did you decide to take personal shopping appointments instead of selling to stores? Can you purchase your designs online?

Jill: The only places I sell are my own website, and at my shop by appointment studio. I decided to do this because having appointments with customers is the most rewarding part of my job. Its a great experience to help people find what looks good on them, and what expresses their personality.  

FR: Your Ombre silk designs are gorgeous, ombre is obviously a big trend right now, but yours tend toward a more sophisticated palette and style. What was your inspiration?

Jill: Thanks!  Ombre is certainly a trend right now, but is also a classic look that can always be worn.  The inspiration for the ombre group is watercolor painting, and the beauty of transitions.  Transitions are the often over looked experiences and times that are the binder to life's great moments.   We should cherish them.  

Photo: Compliments of Jill Aiko Yee

FR: What has been your favorite or most memorable moment as a designer?

Jill: I love being able to make clothes for my mom.  She's worn everything starting with my school projects, and approaches fashion with a purely experimental attitude, and is never held back by convention.  

FR: What advice would you give to those who are considering becoming designers?

Jill: For those getting into design, I would encourage them to take note that design is all around us in life.  Make your decisions regarding design carefully, hone your eye.  It will guide you, and help establish your own style. Be persistent!

Compliments of Jill Aiko Yee

 A few blogger questions:

1. Favorite designer?
Marni - but the clothes don't fit me! 

2. Favorite stores to shop at?
Creatures of Comfort on Melrose, OK on 3rd st, and Plastica on 3rd st (all in LA, but have stores online), Myrtle in Echo Park. 

3. Favorite blogs to read?

4. Favorite magazines?
National Geographic (love the photographs), Elle, and Summary Magazine (new to LA) 

5. Do you use pinterest?

6. Favorite Twitter account to follow?

Where to find Jill: , @jillaikoyee
Jill on Facebook

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