My poor feet are thanking me as New York Fashion Week comes to a close because I’ve been running all over the place. I don’t always have the time to go to every event that I get invited to so I choose wisely, and this season my main focus was supporting Black Business. It’s very important that we support one another, especially small businesses and more so when it comes down to NYFW when it’s easy to drown amongst the big labels. Last night I attended the AR’RYLES September Issue Pop-Up Shop which was held in honor of Owner & Designer Ashley Ryles being featured in the September 2015 Issue of Essence Magazine, and her Chevy inspired Essence Capsule Collection which was unveiled at the Essence Street Style Block Party this past weekend. The event took place at the Alexander Evans Showroom on Ludlow St. and attendees got an up close look at the capsule collection while shopping a variety of AR’RYLES signature pencil skirts from previous and current collections. I met Ashley last Spring at The Ultimate Trunk Show and fell head over heels in love with her pencil skirts, I just had to purchase one (seen here). I had the pleasure to sit down with her at the event to talk about her inspiration for the brand and future expectations.
Ashley Ryles, Owner & Founder of AR’RYLES
How did you get started?
I started in 2013. I’ve been designing for and with AR’RYLES for two years. My 2 Year Anniversary was this past Fourth of July… But my background is in Fashion. I have a Bachelors Degree in Fashion and I’ve been working in the industry for the past seven years in New York… from retail, to wholesale, to actually being an Assistant Designer. Two years ago I decided why not be my own advocate. To try it as people may appreciate it. The pencil skirt found me. I was in a fabric store and I picked up a pattern. Initially I made all of the samples from the first collection and I saw that it was a lot (of work.) I wanted the product to be consistent so that’s when I sourced a production outlet. Now in addition to designing, sourcing the fabric and the trends, I have a team that does production- the pattern making, the samples… so that it can be consistent in quality across the board. I want to be big on quality as I’m only offering one thing, the least I can do is get that one thing right.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I design backwards. I get the fabric and then I sketch. After I sketch I go back to the fabric store, and after the fabric store then I draw inspiration. This place reminds of this… This setting reminds me of this… If I was going to this event what would I wear? How would I utilize this fabric? So fabric is the biggest inspiration for me.
Do you plan to venture out into other pieces aside from the pencil skirt?
It’s good to be a master at one thing rather than trying to venture off to a million other things because you can get lost, confused and very overwhelmed. So I’d rather master a piece like the pencil skirt and make it my own. It’s not going anywhere. It’s been around since the 20’s (1920’s), as long as women have been wearing skirts. I feel as though it’s okay to have a niche… Diane von Furstenberg started with the wrap dress… Ralph Lauren started with a tie. They both have lifestyle brands but started from one thing. I’m still feeling my way out with the pencil skirt. It takes time to perfect the pattern. As far as the waist to hip ratio goes, the length, what sells and what doesn’t. I’m still mastering this, so I’m not in a rush to move on… Even though I do feel very confident about dresses. It may be easier because I understand the details. I want to earn (the experience) to be able to build a collection.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m a blazer kind of girl. I love a good blazer. I feel as though you can have a blazer from season to season, it can be transitional. You can wear it with jeans, with shorts. You can dress it up, dress it down. The blazer I think will definitely be next season as you can see like the three over there (referring to the blazers in the Chevy inspired capsule collection.) I’m getting into the details. I’m big on piping on the insides, lining, trims… I want you to be able to interchange your pocket. I think that will be my next thing.
Congratulations Ashley on the Essence feature and capsule collection. I’m big on pencil skirts and blazers myself so I am definitely looking forward to more from AR’RYLES. You can see Ashley’s feature in the September Issue of Essence Magazine on page 37, and learn more about how she created the Essence Capsule Collection in this Essence Video Feature. See more photos from the event in the slideshow below.
Like what you see? You can shop the pencil skirt collections online at AR’RYLES.