Do you have a personal uniform? Most fashion-minded folks live in one of two camps: Under the assumption that their style is more involved and wider-reaching than the concept of a uniform, or with the belief that their outfits all fall under a unique—but uniformal—personal aesthetic.
If you ask Ambush designer Yoon Ahn, most people fall somewhere in the middle. We do have uniforms but they are not individual. “I think uniforms show the reflection of human psychology,” said the designer, Zooming from Tokyo. “As much as we like to be individualistic and expressive, we consciously or subconsciously always fall back into a ‘category.’” For Ahn, it all simmers down to our yearning for belonging, and, particularly today, relates to a “very modern digital mentality.” Need proof? Scroll down your TikTok For You page—lots of “personal style,” yet most mere versions of one viral trend.
For three seasons now, this spring lineup included, Ahn has been riffing off the idea of uniform dressing. This approach stands on three legs: First, Ahn finds the idea of uniforms interesting: “and I started to loosely focus on the school theme because I thought it would be a fun playground to build on this concept,” she said. Second, it’s a challenge: “I like taking one single theme and seeing how we can spread it and turn it into something much more interesting and fashion.” Third, it’s a good business approach: “It’s becoming more clear to me how I want to define what our world is around this, and I think it’s given a strong identity to our apparel storytelling.”
For spring, Ahn took her class out into the field. “After last season’s rave collection, I wanted some brightness,” she said. This meant lighter fabrics and more play on the sporty side of high school uniforms: track sets, varsity jerseys, and some very cool skirts and corsets with football lacing. “I think it’s a quite charming collection,” she said. Sheer shorts and soccer tees with bedazzled numbers supported that statement. They added some playful lightness to the assortment, as did a generous amount of bow details (though some looks were borderline saccharine). Most impactful and significantly cooler were the distressed hems on knitwear and cut-off tailoring. Here, the designer found inspiration in the “attitude, angst, and rebellious spirit” of the rock music coming from the tail end of the ’90s and the early 2000s.
There’s something fascinatingly meta about Ahn building a sartorial code for her Ambush devotees by grabbing the notion of a school uniform and blending it with the idiosyncratic style of the people that inspire her (she mentioned the likes of Fiona Apple and Kim Gordon). It will be curious to see this version of Ambush run wild on the streets. How do you craft a uniform that is both inspired by folks who rejected every norm and appeals to fashion people who are convinced they dress in everything but? We’ll find out soon enough—Ambush’s fall collection, the first in this trilogy, just delivered in stores.