Perfect-fit tees, wide-leg white denim, mock-neck sweatshirts in an inimitable shade of tomato red—there’s a lot to love about ASKK NY, the brand from Andrea Suarez and Katrina Klein that specializes in the kind of wear-everywhere basics that are woefully underrepresented in most retail stores. On Thursday night, the longtime friends and colleagues hosted a launch party at the home of Alessandra Brawn that was attended by Jessica Hart. Naturally, we had a few questions:
Katrina, you were the very first employee at J Brand, and the first denim designer at Rag & Bone. What were the most important lessons you learned at those brands?
Katrina Klein: Well, I learned almost everything I know about denim and starting a company from Susie Crippen and Jeff Rudes of J Brand. Those two went out of their way to teach me about every aspect of denim, from product, production, merchandizing, customer service even, and more. Since it was such a small team, I really got to take advantage of all their knowledge and I couldn’t be more grateful. At Rag & Bone, I learned about quality. The owners there, Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, really encouraged me to use and develop fabrics and techniques with the best fabric mills in the world. Price wasn’t a problem if the quality was clearly better. They truly believe in giving the best product they can and that lesson will stick with me for the rest of my career.
Andrea, tell us a bit about your professional background.
Andrea Suarez: I sort of stumbled into this business. Let’s just say, school wasn’t for me. I was eager to get into the real world and at the time I was interning at Ferragamo. That internship turned into a full-time job at 20 and I worked my ass off. I wanted to prove to everyone that this kid wasn’t joking around. Ten years later after working at Ferragamo and Paul Smith, I landed a job at Rag & Bone. It was the only brand (at the time) that I was really in love with. I spent eight years at Rag & Bone reporting into David Neville and helped create the direct-to-consumer business. I launched their first e-commerce site, built out the direct-to-consumer team structure and helped source and open the first 37 stores. David to this day is a huge mentor of mine (not sure he knows that). He taught me that this industry should focus on the consumer and what they want of course while sticking true to your brand identity. That lesson to me has been invaluable to me and really the whole ethos of ASKK. He also taught me to treat employees well and that’s something we want to focus on once ASKK has some employees.
What inspired the two of you to team up to start ASKK?
Klein: We make a good team. Dre with the business end and me with the design and production end. We can get a lot done.
View this post on Instagram
What is the brand’s underlying ethos?
Suarez: When we started talking about creating ASKK we really had one mission: to make simple clothes you can make yours. We are longtime colleagues, turned long-term friends. We love clothes (especially denim), but were bored with the current atmosphere of fashion; chasing trends and forgetting about making core pieces that live in a wardrobe forever. We wanted to make a brand simple (great quality) so you can make it your own. Make it crazy or make it simple that we leave to you.
Where do you source your fabrics and produce the line?
Klein: Everything currently is produced in Los Angeles from Japanese denim and knits. We are expanding into LA made knits for future seasons because there are some great high quality fabrics too.
What’s your distribution model?
Suarez: We haven’t really over thought this too much. Right now, we are direct-to-consumer (website only). However, we think it is important to have key wholesale accounts because at the end of the day it is about our consumer and we want them to be able to find the product where they love to shop. The dream of all dreams is to open our own store(s). We already have our retail concept just need to sell more jeans!
What were some of the challenges and benefits of covering such a wide range of sizes in the collection?
Klein: There’s no challenges. Really, there is no reason not to offer expanded sizes. We only see benefit. More people can wear and love your product. All brands should be taking the opportunity.
What inspired you to do monthly drops rather than discrete collections?
Klein: It caters more to a buy now wear now philosophy which we think most consumers are looking for.
What have been your best sellers so far?
Klein: Skinny Lexington and the Crop Wide Leg in Roderick. They are easy jeans for people to love.
What are some of your favorite styles for the holiday season?
Klein: Oh my, the Slim Wide Leg in Black Resin is a new favorite. It’s a take on the Crop Wide Leg in Roderick currently on our site, but in a heavy weight comfort stretch, with a slightly slimmer leg. The Cigarette is Kent, our new high rise 14-inch stove pipe leg in a clean dark and classic wash. Both are going to be my holiday uniform and coming very soon!
Suarez: I’m pushing for some drop crotch.
What’s coming down the pipeline in 2019?
Klein: Sweaters! We are so excited to be launching sweaters coming in late December into the New Year!