Apples Ryan-Russo’s green thumb isn’t just for the florist’s shop. The Ksubi designer and Sydney native is committed to sowing beauty in a world there isn’t much time to stop and smell the roses.
Below, Apples explains the value of creative intuition, why everyone loves a good pair of jeans, and how to keep up with what’s trending in the fashion world.
Hey Apples. So, you started out working in a vintage shop in Bondi. Is that where you began developing your aesthetic?
I try not to think that I have an aesthetic because I tend to jump between eras. I try not to follow one era only. Being around vintage definitely opens you up to all that. When the new stuff would come in, I could see what stylists and designers were buying, where everyone was at design and trend wise.
But you enjoyed working in the store?
I just loved dressing up and doing all the visual merchandising. I used to do stories in the windows. That was the best part of it. Back then I was a bit braver.
I didn’t want to dress like everyone else. I used to be quite theatrical. Like wear 3 piece suits to work with a bow tie. When I was pregnant with my second I wore a turtleneck black lace jumpsuit with the belly hanging out. I always try to test things, like “can I get away with this?”
What’s changed in the fashion world since you’ve been involved? How do you keep up with the trends?
To be honest, style trends have a cycle. One year the 80’s are in, the next year it’s a more 90’s hip hop influence, the next year it’s hippy and embellishment. There are definitely people who dictate it. I read a lot of magazines so I see what people are wearing in Europe or in NYC so I look to those places and kinda filter it.
Why did you decide to focus on denim? Why not, say, dresses?
I love denim because of what it stands for. Everyone wears it. Any kind of status or class. I love people watching, and 9 times out of 10 people on the subway people are wearing jeans. It’s that core uniform that everyone adopts and I like to see it used in different ways.
So true. Everyone has a favorite pair of jeans. Did you have any formal fashion training?
I learnt everything by going to the factories. I was never a desktop designer. Being hands on with the product and meeting the technicians in the factories, understanding how fabrics perform through washing made all the difference. It’s a scientific process I wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise. I don’t know the technical terms. I still use my own kind of Gypo language. I remember being at Gap and getting told off because I said, “it’s going to blow out at the knees.” My director was like “you mean bagged out”. She was correcting me on a technicality. I wasn’t taught like that. I was taught me to just be myself.
Do people in the industry ever question your approach? Or is your lack of technical knowledge a sly asset of yours?
I like that I don’t have that technical background. You’re not better if you know the technicality. It’s how you are with the stuff, hands on. I’ll put the jean on and see what looks good. I have to be contact with the product to understand what I am trying to achieve. I don’t think the average person cares if the denim is green cast or red cast or salvaged unless you’re a truly die hard denim fan who appreciates salvage. Your average customer just cares if it looks good and feels good. That’s the main thing.
But you still love your work?
Yeah, I absolutely love it. It excites me. I love the fashion component, reading trends and trying to translate that into the denim world. That was always a fun process.
Do you enjoy wearing jeans on your own time? Or do you keep business and pleasure separate?
I have a massive denim collection. I’m a hoarder.
There are worse things to hoard than jeans. Is it ever a problem balancing your creative vision with the demands of the marketplace?
At the moment we definitely live in a world which is very merchandise focused. The reality of designing is all about unit sales. Fortunately, working for someone like Ksubi, we still have a little area to play with and do stuff that’s random. Colored overalls, denim Anoraks, full fashion pieces. We can still play with that stuff.
Thanks, Apples. Be good.