When Brooklyn-born, New Jersey–raised Parsons alum Amy Hsiung started her own label in 2009, she named it after her very first muse, a stuffed bunny named Addison. "When I was little, I would take these Cabbage Patch clothes, alter them, cut a hole on the bottom so it would have room for my bunny's tail, and we would have matching outfits," said Hsiung, now 32, of her company's namesake. "It was a lot of glue. And then from there, I made stuff for myself. I designed my dress for prom, with arm pieces and this dramatic waist."
Despite her early penchant for making clothes, Hsiung's journey into fashion was fairly roundabout. She got her first college degree in marketing, at her parents' insistence. She then found her way to Parsons, where she studied women's fashion design. She later interned and worked in creative positions at Diane Von Furstenberg, DKNY, Proenza Schouler, and Calvin Klein. Post-Calvin, she finally felt ready to launch her own line. "I was getting into that middle period in my life where I was like, 'Okay, I’ve been shopping at really young stores and I want to grow up a little bit more,'" she said. "I wanted something for the price-conscious consumer, something that was very wearable and fun and not too loud. Also, something that was versatile, because I don’t like to go home and change."
Today, Hsiung's "feminine tomboy" label consists of herself and two assistants. Her fall 2013 collection consists of lacy blush-colored tops, relaxed knit trousers, ripped boyfriend jeans, sheer plaid tunics, and a pleated twist on the baseball tee. There's also a blazer embroidered with tiny pieces of sequin-shaped leather. Ranging in price from $88 to $300, the clothes are stocked at shops like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, and American Rag, and have already enticed a Kardashian sister. The Cut chatted with Hsiung about her inspirations for the fall season and her company's recent growth; click through the slideshow for a preview of some of her favorite looks, and watch the video for her new collection, which hits stores in August.
Can you explain to me how your brand has "grown up" since its relaunch in 2011?
In 2009, the price points were lower. Originally, we were very much fast-fashion, for teens to college-age girls. Then in 2011, we relaunched and started using silk and other better fabric because the aesthetic was older. Now our customer is out of college to mid-thirties. The styling's more refined, and that’s where we’re going to stay.
Could you walk me through your design process for this collection?
For this specific season, I wanted to get ahold of who my market is, so I didn’t really have a specific inspiration. Instead, I took a whole bunch of tears from magazines and blogs of girls that exude that feeling of cool, casual tomboy. I also thought of pieces that I wanted to wear. I was really inspired by Danielle Bernstein of the blog WeWoreWhat.
Who have been some of your greatest influences?
I wasn’t faithful to one designer growing up. I was all over the place, definitely on trend and trying new things. I get bored really easily, especially with fashion, so I went through a lot of different phases. Now, I really look at Alexander Wang, Chloé, and Stella McCartney. I also love Opening Ceremony and what they stand for.
Your stockist list is huge. What are some goals you have for the upcoming year?
We’ve been really fortunate to get such great stores so quickly. But it can also be a challenge when you’re in so many stores, meaning if you make mistakes, people see them right away. E-commerce is something that I would love to get into, but we’re just not there yet. Once we really grasp our market and understand our girl, we can really go full force.