August 8, 2016 - Rebecca Cramer
Liverpool, has always been a ship-building town, and when the industry died post-Beatles, in the mid-1980s, what was left was one of the most economically depressed areas of England. Ash Kumar’s introduction into the world of UK fashion began early with his grandmother; who, in order to help support her family, brought then drab Liverpool, a kaleidoscope of textures and fabrics in her clothing shop. Regarded as a “gifted saleswoman with a knack for bringing her customers in for the latest styles,” she surrounded herself and a young Ash, with beautiful fabrics and colors. Though Ash was born and raised in Manchester, some of his fondest memories are of the time spent with his “Gran” at her shop. Ash later found himself dreaming of fashion in college.
“I’ve been cooking up the idea since my days at university dreaming of my own label and how I could make this dream come to life. When we launched Native Youth [in 2012] we looked at what the world of menswear was missing and focused on putting a collection together.”
Native Youth describes it’s aesthetic as “…designed in England, proud of its roots and history, but open to influences and inspiration from his travels around the world.” Kumar finds this inspiration in his own travels, and his love for beautiful fabrics, including the natural dye indigo “…because there are so many varying washes, and techniques to achieve these different washes and looks giving each piece a unique feel and look.”
While the brand originated as a menswear line in 2012, a supplemental woman’s line was launched in and available in select US retailers in 2015; and is now available for the Autumn/Winter 2016 at asos.com. The need to expand into the woman’s wear stems from Kumar’s awareness of buying trends and his intuitive desire to provide “fresh brand that offered on-trend product at a very healthy mark-up.“ Ash describes his line in the April 12, 2016 Draper’s interview as “… a compelling mix of trend-focused men’s and woman’s collections using premium fabrics at fantastic prices.” When asked about how designing for women is different from the process for men, he says “I can be a little bit more judgmental with men’s wear!”
The clean lines and fine fabrics of the Native Youth reflect Kumar’s love of international travel and his own personal heritage and experiences. It is available online at: www.nativeyouth.com; asos.com; and other select retailers.