get to know: asher levine

The moment everyone’s been waiting for is here – Asher Levine has debuted at Oak and we had a chance to ask him a few questions about the challenges of starting out as a designer in NYC… read below:

OAK: can you briefly introduce yourself?

Asher Levine: I began making clothes when I was 10 years old, designing was the only future I could think of. I moved to New York in 2006 to get a business degree, and while in school I made clothes in my basement in the West Village. After graduating, I launched my first collection.

OAK: what is the concept of your brand and why did you start it?

AL: Men need more choices which is why I design solely for men as of now. My target market is perhaps more accurately classified as androgynous, or better yet, transcending sexual classification. The aesthetic fluidity fused with structural accents serve to deconstruct gender binaries. Unlike the fitted suits and tailored button-downs that reinforce rigid perceptions of menswear, my brand celebrates our genre’s potential to attain artistic significance in the face of utilitarian demands and ideological constraints. It promotes a new breed of masculinity that is self-defined rather than prescribed.

OAK: what, or when, was your first big break?

AL: This past summer, I was asked by Nicola Formichetti’s team to make Lady Gaga custom leather jackets. I have received amazing responses to the outfits from around the world and am exciting to design more for her.

OAK: what’s your favorite piece from the line? do you have any styling tips for that piece or others in the collection, for our readers?

AL: It’s difficult to choose favorites – each piece is refined to perfection. Creating the fur vest was definitely fun, seeing a new creature come alive, it’s a fusion of fox, broadtail, and emu. The jean design gives you the option to snap the drape in different directions – I would wear those with boots. The wool jersey asymmetric top can be worn down or gathered – wear it with a pair of skinny black jeans. And the leather jackets, I have to say, whenever I wear them on the street, people treat me differently, it’s amazing to see how a design can yield social power in everyday life. Wear the jackets with skinny or dropped crotch pants.

OAK: what are the challenges faced by up and coming designers in new york? what has it been like to transition from designing one-off pieces to a full-line?

AL: I think many designers forget that this business isn’t just about making clothes, you have to imbue mysticism into each and every design. Feel the design and then everything else will manifest naturally. Stop looking at others for inspiration (One of my interns brought one of those mags that has all the runway images from all the brands, I said “those are not allowed in here!”).
It is amazing to see an entire line materialize and I still make custom pieces for private clients. For each collection I strive to make each design accentuate the male form, make him sexy, make him more desirable.

OAK: what’s next for you and the brand?

AL: I cannot foretell the future (thank God) but I’m working on a diffusion line, a shoe collaboration, and am talking to the executives of an American Design legend’s house about designing their women’s couture. Can’t say more!

OAK: anything else you’d like to say?

AL: Go to Oak and try on the collection!

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