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Meet the Modern Women of AELLA

aella the style line

Photos of AELLA’s Ariyana Hernandez and Eunice Cho by Karen Hernandez for The Style Line

Story by Rachel Schwartzmann – Shop AELLA – Photos by Karen Hernandez for The Style Line

AELLA’s signature collection boasts smart and dynamic everyday essentials for the modern woman.

Hosting a refined assortment of quality-made product, a growing and diverse community, and a sincere love of fashion, the brand also asks an important question, which reads: “Are you a woman who wears the pants?” We’d like to think yes. Here at The Style Line, we pride ourselves on curating and more importantly celebrating creative thinkers who are using their personal style to challenge and transform the world around them. The duo behind the AELLA are contributing to this line of thinking and are focusing their efforts on creating technical pieces that suit the independent woman’s on-the-move lifestyle. In doing so, they are also celebrating the diverse and strong group of women who wear AELLA proudly and embody the brand’s values. As founder and designer Eunice Cho mentioned in our interview below, “One of the reasons why AELLA started with pants is this: pants are a symbol of mobility, specifically women’s. It allowed more movement, both literally and societally. At the core of AELLA’s ethos is the expression of empowerment.”

Based in Los Angeles, both Eunice and her colleague Ariyana Hernandez attribute city life as a creative pillar for how they approach building AELLA. “We design for the modern woman who has several facets to her lifestyle and needs clothing that transitions with her,” Ariyana shared in our interview, “I didn’t have to wonder who this woman would be because my friends are these women… I AM that woman.” Speaking more to this, we were thrilled to have the opportunity spend an afternoon with both Eunice and Ariyana at their showroom in downtown LA. There, we were able to further chat with them both about who exactly the AELLA woman is, the importance of a sartorial uniform, how they respectively embody the brand, and how they hope to see AELLA evolve in LA and beyond. Discover our full conversation with them below and enjoy fun moments from our visit captured by Karen Hernandez for The Style Line.

aella the style line

My name is Eunice Cho and I’m the Founder and Creative Director of AELLA.

I went to business school, but at heart, I’m a maker. I love to cook, paint, build and do whatever else you can do with my hands. I love taking a thought into the tangible.

This makes me sound like an old person, but I value privacy. I like intimate and authentic relationships. I believe old friends are the best friends but love new experiences. The best moments are when I can combine these two things: old friends with new experiences.

Walk us through the evolution of AELLA. What did you first notice needed to be addressed in terms of a modern women’s style and as the brand has evolved what do gap do you hope AELLA fills?

I started AELLA with the goal of creating a uniform that was truly transformative in feel, transitional in function, and approachable in price. This goal has remained constant.

At the time, I felt that fashion was split into such strict buckets. There were the beautiful and even more beautifully made clothing that was much too expensive, those that were just formal but not comfortable, and still others that were comfortable but lacking polish. Most of all, anything remotely business appropriate lacked personality, excitement and most of all, comfort. It was as if those adjectives were mutually exclusive.

As I was transitioning from fashion to business school, I had to buy my first suit when I was 25. I was actually shocked at how few options there were. In my mind, I wanted to step into something as flattering and empowering as an Alaia piece but look professional, but that was not what existed for a twenty something year old’s wallet.

What have evolved are the method and the aesthetic we use to create this idea of a uniform. Because we rely so much on technical fabrics, we also have to look at innovation in the manufacturing processes. As we grow and resources grow, I hope to take more advantage of this- to create something classically beautiful but made in the most innovative way.

aella the style line

Sometimes when working in fashion it’s easy to get away from your personal style. Do you ever feel conflicted in terms of your design influencing or affecting your personal style? 

As with anyone else who loves fashion, I am influenced by trends and go through phases. What remains the same is that I am eternally chasing the idea of the perfect uniform. The representation of what this uniform entails is what changes. I pretty much dress in a uniform every day. I literally have a roster of about five tops, a couple of sweaters, and three pairs of pants I rotate. I wear my AELLA pants five days out of the week. Maybe it’s laziness, but it’s just so easy. Everyone should dress in a uniform.

How do you hope to see AELLA evolve as it becomes more deeply rooted in the fashion industry?

As you become more established, I think you can cultivate more space to push the boundaries. We are a niche brand, but we work very hard to create things that people need and want to buy in the most practical sense.

aella the style line

We’ve started out with essentials and wardrobe builders, but as we mature there will be more room for more daring experimentation.

The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration, and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “the style line” in your wardrobe? 

My agenda for the day. All of my outfits are dictated by how much utility I need. Most of the time, the answer is “a lot” because I’m never sitting still at a desk. I need my clothes to move and work with me and for me. On any given day, I’m shuttling between the office and one of our factories; running a meeting or a fitting. I’m sitting, crouching, and running, but I refuse to live in activewear. At the same time, I don’t want to look wrinkled, frazzled and unkempt. I’m my own customer- I live in AELLA pants.

With regard to the AELLA woman, who do you think best embodies the essence of the brand? What women in your life inspire this aspect of your design? 

There’s so many, but right now I’m thinking of Nan Kemper. The story goes that when Yves Saint Laurent first unveiled his Le Smoking, Nan Kempner went out to a dinner wearing the tuxedo ensemble. 

The maitre’d refused her entrance because she was wearing pants and not a dress, so she simply took off her trousers and sat down at her table. That’s the perfect embodiment of the AELLA spirit.

What role has living and working in Los Angeles played in your approach to design and/or the development of the brand?

LA is fantastic as a designer because you can operate in a vacuum when needed. You can focus on your own brand’s identity without being distracted or pushed around by creative noise. I think this is suitable for our brand because we put so much importance on focus.

The creative aspects of the brand are closely woven into our manufacturing framework. I actually can’t imagine operating the brand anywhere else, because my family business, in fibers and textiles, is based here. Our factories are here.

Do you have any unexpected sources of creative inspiration and if so, what are they? 

I like going to gallery openings. I love encountering fabulously stylish older women who are actually wearing quite ugly things but in a way that is entirely their own. The overall effect is that they look fantastic.

I also love looking at my friends’ super stylish moms.

Basically, I look at older women. There’s nothing wrong with that, they just know!

What role do you think fashion plays in societal evolution and why do you think it’s important for women to have the perfect suit?

One of the reasons why AELLA started with pants is this: pants are a symbol of mobility, specifically women’s. It allowed more movement, both literally and societally. At the core of AELLA’s ethos is the expression of empowerment.

Just as pants started proliferating around the emergence of women’s suffrage, clothing embodies the mood and the philosophies of the period it comes from. Coco Chanel tailored her jackets with small arm holes because they allowed more movement and freedom. She created clothing to fit her independent spirit, but I don’t doubt that her creations propelled more women to follow suit, pun intended!

The perfect suit, which can come in many shapes and forms, should be a woman’s armor. It should give you endless confidence because that is the thing that will allow you to command a room, not the actual clothes.

“One of the reasons why AELLA started with pants is this: pants are a symbol of mobility, specifically women’s. It allowed more movement, both literally and societally. At the core of AELLA’s ethos is the expression of empowerment.”

I’m Ariyana Hernandez and I oversee all the marketing, business development, and PR activity at AELLA –

from desksides to email newsletters. My role completely fits my personality, as I am a true people person and conversationalist.

In a sense, I’m a combination of an aesthete and a pragmatist. When I’m not focused on work, I value the time I have to savor simple moments and laughs with friends and family. I have an insatiable wanderlust but even if I can’t take a big trip I love discovering all the California has to offer. From indie music shows to attending art exhibits and picnicking around Los Angeles. I swear you’ll never see me taking a nap!

Sometimes when working in fashion it’s easy to get away from your personal style – do you ever feel conflicted in terms of the brand’s aesthetic influencing or affecting your personal style? 

It definitely can be easy to find yourself attracted to styles and trends that you otherwise wouldn’t have been interested in, simply because of your proximity to the industry. Lately, I’ve been seeing a proliferation of boxy tops & shirts. It took one time trying one on to see that it didn’t complement my body…I looked ridiculous.

That said, I feel that personal style is ever evolving based on our career, our age, our body, our personality, and society. Working in fashion has only been a catalyst to my exploring and experimenting with my personal style as I evolve as a person.

What is one question you wish people asked you more often?

“Why?”

Kids ask, “Why?” but somewhere down the line, as we became adults, we stopped doing that. It seems like we’re either afraid of seeming unintelligent or getting embarrassed, so we just make assumptions. The world would be so much better if we started questioning…asking when we don’t understand or when we wonder about something. I’m not just talking about personal life; this totally affects business and politics.

How do you hope to see AELLA evolve as it becomes more deeply rooted in the fashion industry?

There are so many e-commerce brands sprouting up, and we all know the benefits: you get to control your story, direct-to-consumer pricing, lower inventory levels, lower barriers to entry.

aella the style line

However, as we’re starting to grow, we want to explore more in-person experiences. Our pieces are essentials and wardrobe builders, so you really see the benefit of investing in AELLA pieces when you put them on, move in the clothing, and feel the fabrics. We’d like to evolve from being a strictly e-commerce brand to experimenting with private trunk shows, pop-up shops, and collaborations.

What role has Los Angeles played in your approach to the marketing of the brand?

While some cities are a melting pot of cultures, Los Angeles is a melting pot of lifestyles. Hollywood, Silicon Beach, and Malibu are just a few miles apart. From glamorous industry insiders to beach bums, to corporate climbers, we have it all! And interestingly we all seem to live a little of each lifestyle. So, developing the marketing plan and honing the brand positioning for AELLA came naturally. We design for the modern woman who has several facets to her lifestyle and needs clothing that transitions with her. I didn’t have to wonder who this woman would be because my friends are these women… I AM that woman. I could go camping, to the beach, to industry events, to work, and to work out, all within a given week. So, I totally understand how to relate to a woman who’d like one piece of clothing to go with her to any of those places.

aella the style line

How does AELLA encourage personal style?

We celebrate each woman’s unique style! AELLA is an essentials brand and the majority of our line includes neutral colors. While each piece can most certainly hold it’s own, they’re meant to be incorporated into your current wardrobe and paired with other pieces. Think of it this way, AELLA’s collections are like a frame of a painting – the starting point and base in which you fill with your own artwork. In our marketing, we’ve begun to really amplify this fact by showing the same piece in multiple looks – casual, sporty, and dressy. We’ll be rolling this out to our website soon.

Do you have any unexpected sources of creative inspiration and if so, what are they? 

I’m not sure if this is unexpected but I find a lot of inspiration when traveling and immersing myself in other cultures. How they dress, what they prioritize in life and what they see as important never ceases to make me think and reevaluate.

For example, my husband and I went to the United Arab Emirates a few months ago. I was so inspired by the souks, the vast deserts, and my experience wearing an abaya & hijab.

aella the style line

The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration, and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “the style line” in your wardrobe? 

My emotions! I’m such a multi-faceted person, and my style definitely reflects that. So, everyday I dress based on what aspect of myself I want to portray that day. It’s quite literally an internal dialogue I have with myself in the morning. Do I want to be edgy, artsy, or sassy?

What role do you think fashion plays in societal evolution and why do you think it’s important for women to have the perfect suit?

Fashion has the ability to change the way we interact, view beauty, and view status. It influences the way we dress, and the way we’re dressed affects judgments of us and can even subconsciously make a change in our actions and disposition.

Suits are so indicative of power, intelligence, and professionalism. It’s called a “power suit” for a reason! The modern woman is fiercely independent and her life is multi-faceted. So, the perfect suit has evolved from being purely aesthetics to including considerations on function and comfort.

“We design for the modern woman who has several facets to her lifestyle and needs clothing that transitions with her. I didn’t have to wonder who this woman would be because my friends are these women… I AM that woman.”

THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN March 2016