When it came to navigating the new normal caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, renowned Fashion Designer, Luly Yang had to swiftly adjust to new regulations and changes within the industry. ”We adapted and turned our business into a mask focused design studio,” said Yang. While many were losing work due to the virus, Yang and her team were working harder than ever. They donated their first batch of 20,000 medical masks to Providence Hospital and another 20,000 to Harbor View. Moving forward, they continue to provide as many local businesses that they personally know, with masks for their staff. “It was around the end of February that we recognized a need in our community for something that wasn’t available but necessary for daily protection, so we got to work.”
Like most, Yang has had to merge together her personal and work life. “As a business owner, it was critical to implement change that could keep my staff safe and my business running. I had to determine who had to come in and who didn’t. Not everything is possible to do from home –samples need to be touched, fit needs to be tried and accessed. I was forced to slow down and think in a new way. How can I help? How can I make a mask pattern that people can make at home? How do I design the most comfortable mask so that people can wear it all day at work?” These are only a few of the questions she was asking herself and her team in order to best serve the community during such a dire time. “It has been a hard but extremely rewarding part of my business.” said Yang.
Yang affirms that the most important value of her studio and their products is elevating the human experience through innovative designs. “This is important because whether we are designing uniforms for Alaska Airlines, masks for the community or couture for the red carpet, our goals are always the same and that is to create a product and experience that improves human experience. Our product design team worked endlessly for the last four months to become experts in Mask Technology. We invested 100 percent of our efforts to find and test the best materials for protection and breathability. In this process we developed and designed more than 50 varieties of community masks. Part of that process is having our masks tested by FDA approved laboratories for performance and breathability,” she said. Yang will continue to make masks a staple item in her fashion repertoire, and plans to introduce new lines soon. Some of these will include high-performance and ultra soft comfort masks as well as a variety of face shields.
When asked about her take on how the pandemic is affecting the fashion industry in general, Yang discussed the importance of supply and demand, slow fashion and why her business is grounded in sustainability. “It has greatly disrupted the supply chain, the mills and the factories. One supports the other, and when one thing stops, everything else stops. If there is no demand for irresponsible fashion then it will go away.” Yang's approach with couture has always been about being thoughtful and green –how you shop, what you wear, who designed it, it’s all a part of being more intentional with your decisions not only as a designer but also as a consumer. She is happy to see a new introspective focus on slow fashion evolving within the industry. “Don’t produce what you don’t need, said Yang. Restraint in design takes skill and an artistic eye. Sometimes, less is more.”
As a female, Asian business owner, Yang gave us a little insight on the importance of inclusivity and diversity in the workplace and how she has personally managed this over her 20 year career as a POC fashion designer. “You will always experience joy and hardship when running your own business. I am very fortunate that I can choose the people and environment that I surround myself with good intention. I love the Northwest for the diversity and cultural richness it has provided for my business. We have a very diverse group of individuals working for Luly Yang Couture and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Diversity brings together different perspectives and enriching experiences –it makes the world more colorful and beautiful like a painting.”
To learn more about Luly Yang and her designs, visit her website at lulyyang.com or stop by her shop in the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Seattle.