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Student ties in comfort with personal brand in clothing line created in quarantine

Second-year dance student Audrey Lee created her fashion line On Brand LA to encapsulate the different influences in her life, from movies like “Call Me by Your Name” to her sister, Amanda. (Courtesy of Audrey Lee)

By Natalie Brown

April 30, 2020 1:50 p.m.

On Brand LA aims to make vibrant tie-dyed pieces affordable for an audience of all ages, shapes and sizes.

On April 19, second-year dance student Audrey Lee’s clothing line On Brand LA launched its first collection online. Comprised of tie-dyed, cropped tees and tank tops, Lee works with her immediate family members to create and ship the pieces to audiences across the globe. Inspired by the general popularity of tie-dye, Lee said she wanted her first collection to be her personal take on the trend, with meaningful color schemes inspired by film and television characters paired with versatile, comfortable shirt styles.

“I’ve always seen that other brands are always out of stock or they’re one size fits all,” Lee said. “I wanted to branch out to all sorts of audiences, no matter age, shape or size, and I wanted to put my own spin on these trends.”

Lee said her brand name is derived from the popular phrase “That’s so on brand,” alluding to being a perfect fit or encapsulating one’s personality. Lee said she found her own personal brand by drawing upon fashion influences, even naming some of her products after them.

These inspirations include Elio from “Call Me by Your Name” and Rue and Jules from “Euphoria,” along with her sister, Amanda. She said she hopes each colorway is able to pay homage to her fashion influences, using color schemes that remind her of them. For her shirt named “Elio Tank,” Lee uses pink and red tie-dye colors inspired by an outfit the character Elio wears in the film “Call Me by Your Name.”

[Related: Design media arts student debuts latest collection at New York Fashion Week]

Having wanted to create a clothing line for many years, Lee said she was motivated to make the most of her time in quarantine and jump-started her idea two weeks ago. She said she wanted to capitalize on the trend of tie-dye, and since she already had many of the materials needed, she sent out prototypes of her cropped, tie-dyed shirts to her friends and family.

However, Lee said determining a reasonable yet profitable price point has been a challenge to navigate amid a stark drop in consumers’ disposable income due to the pandemic. She also said that COVID-19 has emphasized the newfound importance of sanitation in the creation of her garments, requiring all people making her shirts to wear a mask and two pairs of gloves as they tie-dye.

The pandemic affects not only the logistics of the apparel businesses, Lee said, but also alters people’s fashion taste. Katie LaFrance, a second-year gender studies student, said consumers are gravitating toward more comfortable clothing with stay-at-home orders in effect.

“It seems crazy now, if you’re just going to be sitting on your couch all day, to put on a pair of jeans if you don’t have to,” LaFrance said. “(The consumer) is only interested in loungewear now because we can’t really do anything at the moment.”

(Courtesy of Audrey Lee)
The second-year student’s fashion line’s first collection comprises casual tie-dye designs meant to cater to the increasing desire for comfort during quarantine. (Courtesy of Audrey Lee)

LaFrance said On Brand LA’s collection plays into this changing consumer trend, offering customers a more affordable and stylish version of traditional loungewear. With hand-cropped shirts and a tie-dye pattern unique to every garment, she said the customizability also adds a personal touch to the collection.

[Related: Students thrift to create sustainable, affordable fashion line inspired by UCLA]

Faith Lee, a first-year pre-psychobiology student, said the brand also allows customers to vote on what future collections will be. She said the brand sends out surveys on what people would want to see and takes into account Instagram comments and feedback from customers.

“I feel like for other brands, you can’t really say what you would want to see and have it actually happen,” Faith Lee said. “(On Brand LA) is really authentic.”

Audrey Lee said there have been many customers from her home state of California, as well as orders from other continents. Not only is she planning for this global expansion, but she said she aims to expand her product line as well. While there is a sweat-set collection coming soon, Audrey Lee said she hopes to put out more collections that cater to the chic, effortless quality of the European and Parisian styles she has been researching. However, for now, she said she wants to maintain simplicity and focus on engaging with customers to build her fan base.

“I love to see how each of my customers style my product in their own way and on their own brand,” Audrey Lee said. “Seeing how customers use these different pieces that I put all my passions to express their style and their brand in a different way is the most rewarding part.”

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Natalie Brown
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