By Kelsey Lorman
From the time Aysha Robinson was in high school in Charleston, she was complimented on her clothing and styling abilities. “Styling is what got me into fashion from the beginning,” Aysha says. “I would spend a lot of time in my closet and put a lot of thought into my outfits, and I never knew if that was normal!”
Now, after 10 years of exploring various roles in the fashion industry in New York and L.A., Aysha has returned to Charleston and turned that innate sense of style into a successful fashion career with her Aylyst and upcoming Aysha louise brands.
“It just feels natural to me,” Aysha says.
Though her ultimate career goal was to launch a self-designed brand, Aysha knew the importance of gaining the knowledge and experience to propel her fashion career forward. After graduating with a bachelor’s of fine arts in fashion design from Savannah College of Art and Design, Aysha set her sights on the big city for that essential experience. “I knew I needed to go to the fashion capital,” she says.
She landed an internship at Jill Stuart in New York, where she quickly jumped into whatever the role required of her. “I was there just doing the run-of-the-mill work, running errands, sorting buttons and fabric, sketching, anything and everything that was called upon.” [Text Wrapping Break]
But Aysha was eager to find paid work that was more design-focused. A fashion connection through a startup brand led her to a position at Ralph Lauren’s flagship location (one that, without a doubt, would have been Carrie Bradshaw-approved), where she worked as an assistant to the head stylist and salesperson. “He was the No. 1 salesperson in women’s clothing at the Ralph Lauren store,” Aysha says. “He brought in a lot of high-profile clients, and I was styling and would pull looks for them before they would come in and shop.” Aysha says the experience taught her about the importance of building relationships and rapport with clients.[Text Wrapping Break]
After her two years styling with Ralph Lauren, Aysha still had a hunger for design. “It was always my calling to have my own business, be my own boss and have my own brand,” Aysha says. “I was feeling it was time for a shift, and I feel like I had finished my stint in New York.”
Aysha drove across the country from the concrete jungle to the Hollywood Hills, where she worked for seven years in many different capacities with several companies. “I worked my way up in design; I worked at BCBG as a technical designer, which explores the engineering of clothing, the construction and fit of garments,” Aysha says. She worked with BCBG’s runway line and casual line and did a fitting for Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas. She enjoyed delving into the technical side of the industry and knew this season of her journey would make her a well-rounded designer. She gained experience working in a creative fashion role at Perry Ellis and also worked with Target brands like Mossimo and Xhilaration.
In 2016, Aysha felt called back to Charleston to bet on herself and her hard-earned experience. “I’d been away from family, and there were personal reasons calling me here,” Aysha says. “I thought, ‘Maybe it’s time to take that leap of faith and focus on my own clothing brand; I have the tools, the skills, the education and the talent under my belt and now it’s time to put it to use.’”
She launched her curated collection, Aylyst, which includes pieces Aysha has meticulously chosen to offer through her online boutique. These selected pieces represent the effortless, transitional, versatile styles for every woman that Aylyst aims to provide. She sells the Aylist collection through online sales and local pop-up shop events such as Crafty Bastards. This collection is accessible with prices ranging at about $100 per piece. “I’ve always liked one-piece dressing, long and short dresses,” Aysha says.
Not only is Aysha busy carefully curating this collection, she also is working on the launch of her own clothing line, Aysha louise, which she plans to design and manufacture herself. “The vibe is very resort, with bold colors and versatile transitional pieces,” she says.
While the resort-wear vibe may have been instilled through Aysha’s Charleston roots, it is clear Aysha is designing for the on-the-go woman who wants to feel luxurious and chic.
“With all that goes on in our lives, we just want whatever is easy,” Aysha says. “I want to provide fabrics and styles that you can just throw on or throw in a bag, that are travel-friendly, that you don’t have to worry about ironing.”
Next year, Aysha intends to launch the Aysha louise resort collection to stores. “I want to put out pieces that are transitional, day-to-night and season-to-season; I don’t want to put limitations on clothing,” Aysha says. “The keyword is ‘effortless,’ while looking very polished and stylish.”
While offering the curated pieces from her Aylyst catalog at her pop-up events, Aysha has been incorporating some of her self-designed pieces from the upcoming Aysha louise collection. “Last fall I did denim capes and sweater dresses, which sold out at the pop-up events,” Aysha says. “I get direct consumer interactions, and get a sense of what people are liking, which has given me great insight for Aysha louise.”
She eventually hopes to launch an Aysha louise swim line, making it a full lifestyle offering.
Aysha sees herself giving back to an industry that she has worked hard to be a part of. “I really want to help the up-and-coming emerging designers,” Aysha says. “I’d eventually love to be in a position to have my own manufacturing plant that could potentially be in South Carolina to help others along the way with training, execution and more. I hope to make their way of becoming the designer they want to be easier because of what I’ve experienced.”
Launching her collection is nowhere near the end game that Aysha sees in her mind. Her dreams are just as bold as the colors she selects for her designs, and as she’ll tell you herself, “I’m still spreading my wings.”