Virgil Abloh may have the most fashion gigs in the industry right now, but Ambush’s Yoon Ahn is quickly catching up. The Korean-born designer grew up in Seattle, went to college in Boston, then moved to Tokyo in the early 2000s to establish her jewelry company Ambush in 2008. Since then, she’s garnered a slew of collaborations, from Bvlgari and Uniqlo (with Disney) to Nike and Rimowa, along with the title of Dior Homme Jewelry Designer in 2018. Now, she’s teaming up with Converse for the second time to reimagine the brand’s classic Chuck 70s in a cozy fur, as well as revamp a pair of duck boots with weather-resistant details.
“I always had an interest in its heritage as a brand because it’s have been around for so long,” Yoon Ahn tells NYLON. “When I visited the HQ in Boston, I went straight to the archive vault and saw that they used to make so much outdoor gear. I wanted to modernize the duck boots so you can wear them in the city, as well. Then, I added furry Chucks for those with a wild spirit to feel cozy and fun.”
The Converse x Ambush collaboration is set to drop on Tuesday, Nov. 24, and the Chuck 70 Fuzzy will retail for $140, while the Chuck Taylor All Star Duck Boot will go for $160. Both sneakers are available in two colorways (black and blue) and complement Yoon Ahn’s debut Converse range from last year, which transformed the Chuck 70 into a military-inspired rubber boot. The shoe quickly sold out and goes for a pretty penny on the resale market, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the same goes for this new collection.
We spoke to Yoon Ahn about her creative process when it comes to teaming up with different brands, the unexpected fashion trend she’s into right now, and what she’s learned about running a fashion business in 2020.
How have you evolved as a designer over the 10-plus years you’ve worked in fashion?
Ten years is a long time. You grow so much as a designer from learning, living, and doing. I’m definitely more comfortable with who I am today as I know what I want much more clear.
With so many collaborations under your belt, how do you know what’s a good fit for you and your brand?
I have to respect the brand and the brand has to have something that we don’t have. The best collabs happen when both parties bring something new to the table. That’s when magic happens.
What’s your creative process when it comes to collaborating? Does anything come really easy or is super challenging?
Depends on how [the other brand or designer] approaches. I’m pretty clear on what I want to make so if they give me enough room, it can be easy.
How do you approach designing a sneaker, especially with a classic silhouette like the Converse Chuck?
First, you have to live with it to get what the sneakers are like. Sneakers have to be grounded in reality, so I make sure to mix creativity with functionality and a little sprinkle of fantasy.
What are you really interested in right now when it comes to fashion and design?
Right now I’m obsessed with chairs. It’s kind of funny everyone is doing chill chair shoots now. Must be the vibe. People want to just chill and feel relaxed.
So much has changed within the fashion industry this year. What have you learned and now practice as a designer and business owner?
Going with the flow when things seem out of control. Give yourself some room to learn and quickly adopt. This is definitely the most obvious but we have to live more in the online space, so I’m welcoming The Sims as a real world.