“I love the village-feel of Kirkland with its small restaurants and coffee shops. I think my heartrate drops a few beats a minute here.” Luly Yang sits in her new Kirkland space, as elegant and precise in her words as she is in her designs. The founder and creative director of her eponymous fashion label, Yang finds inspiration out her office window, which frames a bevy of maple trees, leaves shining chartreuse in the sunlight. “My view is seasonal,” she explains “the maples trees are just so beautiful right now. The nature, the water, and the trees are inspirational.”
Yang now makes her home in Kirkland as well, since “my rule in life is to walk to work. Walking cities are my cities.” She still loves downtown Seattle where the Luly Yang retail showroom is located, but feels being on the east side of the lake offers a different perspective. Yang’s designs for next year are inspired by this area.
Leased by Yang in the fall of 2020, the new studio is light and bright, featuring the adjustable height work tables that gained popularity during the pandemic as people sought to create at-home work spaces that allowed flexibility. Boards displaying elements of the brand’s new line, Luleisure, are propped up against one wall; fabrics, shapes, and colors coming together to illustrate versatile, high-quality clothing and accessories that are light-weight and easy to care for.
Born during the pandemic and available this winter, the innovative line will be designer leisure that travels well and is comfortable enough to walk your dog in, but stylish enough that you feel confident when you run into a friend or colleague on that walk. “I like blurring the lines of what clothing can be used for,” says Yang. Luleisure will be offered in a Luly Yang pop-up shop at the Sea-Tac Airport in November, as well as on the Luly Yang website.
In the early days of COVID, Yang pivoted quickly to design and produce thousands of medical-grade face masks for schools and hospitals, then chic fabric masks for the general public. Fittingly, the brand’s top-selling mask was the monarch design – a nod to Yang’s iconic monarch dress that launched her fashion career in 2000 and remains her signature piece. “2020 was a special, challenging year. It tested our capacity for evolving to meet the community’s needs, but knowing many people were wearing a mask that we designed was so enriching. It was about fashion, health, and community.”
Yang missed dining out with friends during the height of the pandemic and is enjoying a return to her favorite Kirkland restaurants: Feast for dinner, and Carillon Kitchen for breakfast or lunch. A devoted dog lover, she was delighted to see Pickles Playland – a club offering myriad services to dogs and their owners – open in Carillon Point this year. Caffe Ladro is another spot where Yang makes new canine friends in the neighborhood “I need to have a dog fashion show in Kirkland,” she says.
Outside of Kirkland, the designer looks forward to visiting far-flung destinations and has already seen the airports become increasingly busy. “People are traveling more now, and they want to be brighter and more colorful – like a butterfly emerging.”