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Independent fashion from the heart of New York City

YEOHLEE SPRING 2018 REVIEW - WWD September 11, 2017


 September 11, 2017

by Mayte Allende

Don’t be misled by the simplicity of Yeohlee Teng’s aesthetic — there is a lot more than meets the eye here. Teng is an intellectual, informed kind of fashion designer, who enjoys researching and philosophizing about her collections. For spring, Teng’s premise was “the state of this particular time. Who are we, what do we stand for, where are we going? With this kind of social climate where change is everywhere, one has to go back to the basics in terms of what you do, what you eat and what you wear,” she stated after her presentation. The spring lineup gave us some cues as to what her answers might be, at least regarding the latter question. For starters, there’s her predilection for natural fibers, which she explained she uses because comfort is key for her. It’s also a priority when it comes to cuts: Nothing is ever body conscious here, pieces are cut generously and away from the body. But fashion also has to have emotional and visual appeal, which Teng satisfied via her use of dual fabrics and patterns. For example, a cherry blossom jacquard back-to-front coat was half cream-based, half blue-based, while a great black Aztec jacquard jacket reversed to red. “Clothes need to be intelligent, they need to serve the wearer well at different levels. The bottom line is that clothing is ultimately about design in a human form and it needs to function,” she said.

YEOHLEE FALL 2017 REVIEWS - Vogue and WWD August 22, 2017


Feb. 13, 2017

by Liana Satenstein 

Yeohlee Teng has always applied math to her collections, whether using geometric shapes as prints or mapping out the set of her show. (For Spring 2016, models stood on 36-by-36-by-12 platforms.) One theme in her design style is “zero waste,” in which she uses fabrics to their maximum capacity. For example, this time, four pieces, including palazzo pants and a matching tunic, only used four meters of shibori. A vest-meets-scarf was one of the smartest additions both in appearance and clever utility: It could easily be thrown over the shoulders, had pockets, and was made out of the leftover quilted nylon from a vest in look 1. “I thought I would make something useful from the scraps,” said Teng. “It is multi-functional. It sits really well.” That same sort of functionality also came through in a poncho with a pocket and a natty blazer-style jacket with a hood.

That same sort of precisely calculated aesthetic translated into the overall sharp look of the collection, a quality that Teng is well known for. A camel hair cocoon coat jutted out so it created a structured shape, while a pair of pin-striped trousers had just the right amount of slouch. A boyish gray cotton wool and mohair plaid jacquard was a standout. Even better? That, too, was also a zero waste piece.


Feb 13, 2017

by Bobbi Queen


Yeohlee Teng’s finest hour is always during her fall collections, perhaps because her brand of creative intelligence usually comes across strongest in her coats and jackets. The venue was the apartment of art collector, Andrea Woodner, which was hung with paintings by Rodin, Seurat, Braque and Matisse.

Subtlety is what underscores each Teng exit. She returned to her fabric archives to revisit the luxurious camel hair she used years ago. This season, she cut the cloth into a cozy wrap topper with sleeves that were dramatically rendered beyond a dolman cut. A long cocoon coat had the ease of a robe, tossed over a brown, cleverly stitched nylon quilted vest, navy Gibson top and yoke pants in navy and white wool ticking.  The designer worked with sleek proportions, fabric and color mixes, layering shorter jackets over longer ones, all with a chic nonchalance. The beauty of a Yeohlee silhouette is that this ease is visible; the craftsmanship and her “no waste” approach to fabric is not. Right now, this “no waste” policy has come to mean more than just a designer’s economic use of fabric. “I see it in terms of conserving time and energy as well,” says Teng. “I’m having a very thoughtful time. Where are we going? What do we need? What clothing will empower and comfort?” Hmm. I could point to a couple of Yeohlee’s terrific looks, though I’m not sure if they hit a high empowerment bar or not: a black felted knitted wool jacket with kimono sleeves that snap at the wrists, creating a narrowly constructed shape; the wool and mohair jacket and wrap coat in a gray and black plaid jacquard melange of tweeds and twill over wool-crescent pants or jersey jogging versions. “I want these clothes to have a presence,” Teng said. That they do.



YEOHLEE SPRING 2017 - Vogue September 12, 2016 April 13, 2017

Sustainability is a fashion industry buzzword right now, but Yeohlee Teng has been thinking about her carbon footprint since before it was trending. “Minimize waste, maximize use” is her motto, so she tries to use every last scrap of fabric in her sewing room. Her approach centers around designing “efficient” clothes—functional, comfortable, and, above all, without frills. Teng’s customers are mostly women of a certain age who aren’t looking for the next must-have thing; they want clothes that will fit into their sleek, simplistic daily uniform so they can focus less on getting dressed and more on the tasks at hand.

Today’s show was a continuation of those ideas, but there was a new softness in the silhouettes. Past collections were oversize and boxy, but here it was more about fabrics collapsing around the body. Spring ’17 found Teng working with texture more than ever, particularly with a “shutter” fabric used on a boxy coat and shift dress. A khaki-color silk and cotton jacket also introduced a welcome bit of shine to all the crepes and matte jersey. What would be really surprising, though, would be to see Teng embrace a more womanly, body-skimming silhouette. Her clothes are always quite oversize—sometimes bordering on shapeless—and a defined waist is feeling a lot more relevant right now.

YEOHLEE FALL 2016 - HARPER'S BAZAAR OCT. 2016 September 22, 2016

"Also bringing attention to New York designs—and a major tent pole of the initiative—is Made in NY's official certification program, which recognizes those companies that do at least 75 percent of their production in the city. Thirty-seven brands have been awarded this honor so far, including Rosie Assoulin, Lela Rose, Milly, Rachel Comey, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Yeohlee, and Dannijo."

By Lauren McCarthy, Sept. 19, 2016

"I'd rather promote New York than anything else in this world because New York to me means the world," designer Donna Karan, one of the city's most enthusiastic residents, has said about the place where she was born and built her brand.

While Karan was so enchanted with the city that she created an entire line, DKNY, dedicated to dressing its downtown denizens, the rest of the fashion industry was equally as entrenched. Following World War II, when women were entering the workforce with Rosie the Riveter–like vigor, designers such as Bonnie Cashin, Claire McCardell, and Anne Klein were on hand to outfit them with reimagined sportswear. Of course, fashion's symbiotic relationship with New York continued to evolve: There was the louche sexiness of the Studio 54 era, where Halston, Diane von Furstenberg, and Bill Blass were habitués in the '70s; the All-American workwear period of Karan, Ralph Lauren, and Perry Ellis in the '80s; the rise of minimalism and streetwise grunge, courtesy of Calvin Klein, Geoffrey Beene, and Marc Jacobs in the '90s; and today's crop of in-demand designers, including Alexander Wang, Joseph Altuzarra, and Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, whose wares can be seen on everyone from Upper East Side socialites to club-going kids in Brooklyn.

As different as the designers may be in aesthetics, their legacies have become part of the fabric of the city, and New York's Deputy Mayor of Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen aims to keep it that way, with the Made in NY initiative. "There is power in something made locally that people can feel attached to," she says. "Fashion especially is important. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the [New York] fashion industry. Our job is to figure out how we as a city government can intervene and put our own resources in those buckets."

Originally focused on bringing television and film production to the city, Made in NY has grown to include the fashion industry since Glen became deputy mayor in 2014. "Great fashion comes from a diverse set of cultures," says Glen. "And what other major global city has a diversity of talent and ethnic backgrounds that ultimately results in great fashion?"

Outsourcing is not an option for this initiative, which supports the local fashion industry as a whole, comprising 185,000 jobs and $11.6 billion in wages within the five boroughs. In 2015 alone, Mayor Bill de Blasio tripled the city's fashion investment from $5 million to $15 million, and this year the city is continuing to build on the momentum.

Among the investments in the works is $74 million that will go toward expanding one of the greatest bastions of creativity, the Fashion Institute of Technology. The money has been earmarked for the first new academic building in more than 40 years at the school, part of the State University of New York system, which is slated to break ground next year. "We thought it would be a concrete investment in the industry and its capacity to evolve and to grow," says Glen. "It's a public university. Think about that. What does that say about us as a city? That the best and the brightest from around the world are coming to a public university."

In planning the new building, Glen has worked in tandem with FIT's president, Joyce F. Brown. "The deputy mayor is just a great advocate for the fashion industry, the fashion sector, and the creative sector of New York City," says Brown. "It's very difficult for young, aspiring creative people to be able to function here. By providing financial help or incubator space or internships or mentoring, we're creating an ability for all the creative talent that's in the pipeline to emerge and develop. Ultimately we'll reinforce the city's footprint in the manufacturing and design sectors."

As the map of the fashion industry grows, it's also moving away from Manhattan's garment district, historically known as the center of all things fashion. "The bottom line is, manufacturing has been shrinking dramatically in the garment district for obvious reasons," says Glen. "Buildings are outdated, and they're not well suited for modern manufacturing. You can watch it wither, or if you fundamentally believe in it like I do, you've got to do something."

The answer may lie across the river in Brooklyn, where Glen and her team are working on a $10 million investment in Sunset Park's Bush Terminal complex to transform part of it into a state-of-the-art fashion manufacturing hub, complete with room for designers, manufacturers, and incubators. "I don't want just one designer out there," Glen says. "I want to blow this thing out."

Along with providing a space for designers to work, the nonprofit New York City Economic Development Corporation has teamed with the Council of Fashion Designers of America on the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, which aims to revive manufacturing in the city by providing grants to New York–based operations, awarding more than $2 million to 18 companies since its September 2013 launch. Additionally, NYCEDC has partnered with Capital Business Credit on the NYC Fashion Production Fund, which provides financing to new designers to help with production costs.

"Our goal is to help these emerging entrepreneurs and small companies scale their businesses so they can grow here in New York and employ more New Yorkers," says Kate Daly, senior vice president of NYCEDC's Center for Economic Transformation. "We want to support all different levels and types of jobs that are available here."

In addition to up-and-coming designers, the city has partnered with established businesses as well. In August 2015, Barneys New York and the CFDA celebrated the release of a "Made in New York" capsule collection, which featured limited-edition looks from the Row, Altuzarra, Thom Browne, and Proenza Schouler. (A portion of the proceeds went to the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative.) "We were really proud of that," says Daly. "Everybody wins, and it was a great way to get national attention on the amazing designs that are coming out of New York."

Also bringing attention to New York designs—and a major tent pole of the initiative—is Made in NY's official certification program, which recognizes those companies that do at least 75 percent of their production in the city. Thirty-seven brands have been awarded this honor so far, including Rosie Assoulin, Lela Rose, Milly, Rachel Comey, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Yeohlee, and Dannijo.

"As a U.S.-based business, being made in New York is a great luxury," says Cornejo. "Knowing who made your clothes, being able to access them quickly and have a close relationship with the people creating the garments is incredibly important to us."

"For us, the brand is about so much more than beautiful statement designs," adds jewelry designer Danielle Synder, a cofounder and creative director of Dannijo. "It has a spirit and a story, and is very much tied to our lives in New York. There is a real sense of quality craftsmanship in our pieces, and New York speaks to that aesthetic and ambition."

Glen is intent on keeping it that way. "There is no more powerful brand in the world than New York City," she says. "The continuing question for us is, How are you going to take the power of that brand and give it to the people who are doing their work in New York? I don't want some guy in L.A. putting 'Made in New York' on his jeans. That's not happening, not on my watch."


American Fashion Podcast 109: Designer Yeohlee Teng September 21, 2016

Click on the image above to listen to the Podcast

Yeohlee Teng Interview

September 15, 2016

Yeohlee Teng has been a fixture of the New York City fashion design, culture, and industry for decades. Her store at 12 West 29th Street is a destination for women seeking clothing of a rare quality, the product of an intelligence and thoughtfulness that is both the mark and mind of its creator.

AFP hosts Charles, Seth, and Lisa attempt to interview Yeohlee about fashion then and now, disposable culture, her approach to design and technique, and a range of other topics, but she interviews them back, in this fascinating exchange about what is important in fashion and the life of highly conscious creative people.


You have to be careful who is telling you what the definitions are in this industry, because there’s this [message], “well, this is what the consumer wants, and so we’re just giving them what they want,” without acknowledging that the consumer has been trained to want that. And therefore, they can probably be untrained. – Seth Friedermann (15:22)

You would be surprised at how smart the women are who come into my store. I don’t have to tell them anything, they know. They know what looks good on them. They know the value of what they’re buying. They know how long it will last. They know how many places they can wear them to. They knwo it travels well. They know they can hand wash it. There are people that I could inform, but there are a lot more that could inform me. – Yeohlee Teng (25:04)

I think compassion plays a role. A lot of women are forgotten in the fashion world. I dress everybody. I have no prejudice. – Yeohlee Teng (31:36)