With a rural upbringing on a Washington State farm, a refined global fashion education, and stellar work experience in New York, Los Angeles, and Paris, Alyson Eastman has all of the active ingredients to shake up things in the fashion world. Fresh from a month-long inspiration trip in Canggu, Bali, where she has gathered inspiration for her current collection, BELLA New York caught up with the 29-year-old designer of the namesake New York-based brand to take a closer look at the Alyson Eastman label and learn what is next for this burgeoning design star.
How did you get started as a designer?
I knew I wanted to be a clothing designer since I was a little girl. In school I would make all my own dresses and costumes for dances. After attending design school in Los Angeles and Paris, I moved to New York City and worked in the fashion industry for brands such as Zac Posen, Badgley Mischka, and Ports 1961 before starting my own line in 2014. I now have a showroom in Gramercy Park and make my garments here in New York City’s Garment District.
What is the Alyson Eastman aesthetic?
Alyson Eastman is a luxury womenswear line with a focus on leather. We are dedicated to producing quality garments made with high-end materials, and that are constructed in humane work environments. Our goal is to keep the luxury and excitement of the fashion industry alive, not to be ruined by big box stores. At Alyson Eastman we believe in careful curation of our clients’ wardrobes. Instead of buying into a trend, we want our women to buy clothes they will have forever.
How has your upbringing influenced your designs?
I was raised on a llama farm in Washington State. I grew up surrounded by nature, and one of my favorite activities was exploring in the woods. Everything I design has some bit of Mother Nature’s influence. Her natural patterns and color palette are incredible.
Where do you find inspiration?
I draw inspiration from everywhere—everyday life, something as small as a leaf or a flower petal, or something as big as an entire city.
Did your recent trip to Bali influence your work?
The latest collection for Spring/Summer 2017 was entirely inspired by my first trip to Bali this year and the beach-meets-jungle influence. I loved the surf and vintage motorcycle culture there. I wanted to design a collection that could be worn by the beautiful surfer girls in Bali as they jump out of the ocean and hop on the back of their boyfriend’s bike.
For whom do you design?
I would like to think I am not designing for a particular woman, but offering a variety of women a particular leather piece that speaks to them. I decided to focus mainly on leather because I love the idea of designing one item for a variety of women instead of a whole collection for the same type of client.
Your label is now in its fifth season. What has been your biggest challenge so far? Your greatest success?
Although this is my fifth season, it is only my second season focusing on leather jackets. I started the brand producing full collections each season. One of my biggest challenges was focusing on a particular product and doing that product very well. I brought my focus to leather because it’s something you can wear all year round and is always in style. You can dress leather up or down; it is extremely versatile and well made. This was a hard pill to swallow at first but it made me realize that this decision would give my brand a voice and a direction to which my clients can relate. The idea of focusing on leather has been a challenge but also a great success. We are having our best season yet!
What lessons would you share with new designers?
Always stick with your vision and try not to worry what everyone else is doing. Stay true to yourself and when it gets hard or doesn’t seem like it is working, keep at it. After all, if it were easy, everyone would do it!
What can we look forward to seeing from you this season?
Much more exciting leather goods to come, spicing it up with a little fur here and there as well.
Ten years from now where do you see the Alyson Eastman brand?
I try and take it one day at a time as the brand is always growing and changing, but I would love to graduate the label from just womenswear to also menswear, children’s clothing, active wear, home, and wellness products. I would like Alyson Eastman to be a lifestyle brand.