Advanced Fashion Design Graduate Ashli Lee has been busy since graduating from FIDM in 2007. The Los Angeles-based designer has worked at companies such as Forever 21, Adidas, Yeezy, Manhattan Beachwear, Malibu Swimwear, and Cocodune, among others.
We hear you recently worked with Adidas Yeezy? What was that like? I did a short-term freelance project for Kanye West about a month before New York Fashion Week in the men's Yeezy and Adidas categories. The highlight was getting to work with one of the Maison Margiela men's designers. Everyone is under consulting contracts for the most part with Yeezy products.
What are you up to now? Currently, I am back in the swim realm. I was hired on to grow the Active and Swim product at Dora L International. Her small yet successful company is in LA Arts District and I love working in that area amongst many young artists and new businesses. They threw me right into the design and development swing and I'm currently in Hong Kong for two weeks visiting our office and developing sports bras for full-figured lingerie line, Curvy Couture, that will be sold at Nordstrom and other boutiques. The company keeps their focus on full-figured bras and intimates and does it well.
What advice would you share with FIDM Students? I enjoy working at focused and financially healthy companies that aren't in the game to be "cool". The "cool" companies are the most unorganized, catty, and can be a nightmare to be in every day. My advice to students is to do some work for well-known companies with some cache to build your rèsumè. Employers want to see highlights in your career when they browse thousands of candidates for one position. Stay focused and good at something in the industry--you will be sought out and irreplaceable. Once I started my design career, I was always recruited by another employer. This current position was found through 24Seven and it was a fast process because I am great at one category.
What do you like best about your current position and why? Most of my design jobs have consisted of private label. I will be doing private label for Nordstrom and other stores while fixing a design problem or lack of for full-figured women. Those kind of jobs will give you the most exposure to what women really want. Commercial, mainstream, and functional design is where the money is. I have done private label for Target, Urban Outfitters, Victoria's Secret, Macy's, and Dillard's, to name a handful. Forever 21 was my boot camp. I had product in 500 different countries and my hands on many categories there. I really just love making women happy, giving them something that they really enjoy, and seeing commonalities in all women and their needs. I'm excited to continue my success and expand the business at this company now like I have others.
How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? FIDM gave me the foundation: the technical side of making garments and how they fit, construction, and movement. Technology is now dominant in fabrications so as long as that is moving forward you have to understand the foundation first. Not all designers have a technical side but I strongly suggest that.
What are your ultimate career goals? I have been in front of a computer for a decade doing this and as an artist, I would really like to work with space and experience. My boyfriend and I want to have a chic bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere eventually. This is where we would use both of our aesthetics visually through interior and exterior space, and throughout the experience.
Categories: Fashion, Alumni News, Featured, Interview
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