DrJays.com Exclusive: Interview with PARISH-NATION
Kiki visited PARISH-NATION‘s NYC office to interview designer Yuni Yoshida, and head designer Courtney Walker.
Yuni Yoshida, Courtney Walker, graphic designer Damian Dolly, Kiki and designer Renalde Jett.
Kiki and PARISH co-founder Tony Shellman
One of DrJays.com’s flourishing urban brands, PARISH has been bringing it’s vision of “health, wealth and wisdom” to consumers for almost three years now.
The brand was founded by Ashod Spendjan, Chaka Wilson, Evan Davis, Periclese Papayannis and Tony Shellman – all former executives of Enyce Clothing.
Once primarily focused on bold graphic tees with a retro feel, PARISH is quickly becoming known for producing unique and high quality apparel. Close attention to fabrics, cuts, fits and other details are key ingredients contributing to the brand’s growing success.
This year, PARISH is increasing distribution into Canadian, Puerto Rican and Asian markets.
For the aspiring designers and entrepreneurs out there, this interview provides good insight on what it takes to create a garment from beginning to end, along with knowledge about developing and managing a brand:
DrJays.com: Tell us about a typical day in the office, including regular tasks and challenges you face.
Yuni: Correspondence with overseas for sample development, design meetings, reviewing samples, researching, sketching, etc. There will be days we designers sit at our computers all day long to sketch and come up with new designs. We could also spend whole days reviewing samples and revising them to improve. Sometimes we go out in the city to research and find inspirations.
There are many challenges, but I think one of the biggest is to get everything done on time. Deadlines are very important to us as we have to get all garments made by certain time. Often, we have to stay late or continue working at home in the evening to meet these deadlines. It’s a lot of work, but we get to enjoy seeing the final products after putting in all the time and effort. Very rewarding!
DrJays.com: What are the steps involved when designing a typical garment?
Yuni: The first step of designing is to research the market, trends, and come up with a concept of the collection(s) for the season. Since we have to design a year ahead, we need to know current trends, and figure out where they are going. It is also important for us to learn what our customers are looking for.
Once we come up with concept and inspiration for the season, we come up with colors and fabric selection for the group. From there, we just work on designing. Basically sketching and more sketching.
Once we finish designing and reviewing everything, we prepare tech-packs for the selected designs and send them to our factory to get pre-production samples made. When these samples are done, we review each style to see if we need to make any adjustments. We make comments, updates, and send them back to the factory. We often have to repeat these steps to achieve what we want in each garment.
Then factory will then send us salesman samples, which the sales reps use to present to our buyers at trade shows and in our showroom.
PARISH Summer 09
DrJays.com: Parish has been one of the fastest growing urban clothing lines. What do you think are some of the factors that have contributed to this success so far?
Courtney: The short answer would be great details in design, and competitive pricing. The long answer would be very hard work. We have a dedicated team of people with extensive experience in the fashion industry, a wide array of perspectives, influences, and taste that allows us to challenge ourselves on a daily basis internally.
Also our work environment is relaxed for the most part. We enjoy coming to work and doing what we do. There’s no better environment to create in, other than a relaxed one. Creativity and criticism can occur here without a “suit” breathing down your neck.
DrJays.com: Parish designers have been called “artists” rather than typical fashion designers. What are your primary resources for inspiration when it comes to design?
Our direction has drastically changed from our first year. We admittedly attached ourselves to the “80s throw back” trend, because there was and still is an emotional connection from everyone at the Parish Loft who grew up in that era.
We all have very fond memories of that time in our lives. America was in a creative boom in many areas of pop culture. Music, movies, games, and fashion were so lush in creativity and execution. Who wasn’t influenced by it?
Those times were fun and filled with some of the best in hip-hop, which spilled over into the early 90s as well. So to see those memories make such an aggressive resurgence in our market was no surprise.
It created some good design and some bad, which began to give us pause. We took a step back and began to reevaluate the direction of Parish. It became very clear to us that had we gone another season with apparent themes from the 80s and 90s, our identity of making clothes that span more than just two decades would have failed to attract an already bored costumer.
That being said, our primary inspiration is to design clothing that speaks to our costumer’s beyond just a rap phrase, a billboard logo, or colors that matches any given sneaker.
DrJays.com: Yuni, it’s ironic that you used to work for Enyce which is a company that Parish founders Tony Shellman and Evan Davis started. You started working there after these guys sold the company to Liz Claiborne. Now, after Sean John bought Enyce from Liz Claiborne, you’re back with the originators of both lines! How is your position different at Parish than it was at Enyce/Liz Claiborne?
Yuni: It’s hard to describe how my position is different…I am designing more categories of clothing at Parish, which I enjoy. Also, as you can see from our products, we pay great attention to details on each garment, so it is fun to be creative in coming up with these ideas.
I’ve only been working here since January, but working for this brand definitely has been a great experience for me so far. As Courtney mentioned before, we have very relaxed working environment which I love. I also enjoy being a part of team that is always working hard to improve and achieve success for our brand.
Check out the current collection from PARISH on DrJays.com, featuring military inspired shirts, denim shorts and more: