It’s a new age with new technology and emerging designer Ryan Taylor of Ryan Knew has created a cult-like brand representing his home base of Texas in its rawest form. The designer has looked to create desirability and mystery around his young brand, creating hype around upcoming drops and taking down his e-commerce web site when pieces sell out. It’s all grabbed the attention of rappers like Tyga, Don Toliver and Kodak Black, to name a few supporters, who show love to the brand.
The designer sat down with WWD to preview the collection he’ll be showing in Paris market this week for the first time, and to explain his approach in creating a brand with broad appeal. His most notable and sought-out piece is a 100 percent full Italian denim trench that is lined with silk and has a digitally printed Texas sunrise. With social media on such a high rise, it has become a huge asset in allowing customers to organically discover the brand through social platforms. “Once we launch again, people rush [to buy] and if you know, you know,” Taylor said.
Standouts from his fall collection are all about using technology. His Sherpa Hoodie is a printed-on sherpa, where he digitally prints an entire roll of a blanket before cutting and embroidering. The sherpa included drop pockets at the bottom, cargos at the top, no zippers and no flaps. “This new technology is printed on different fabrics than polyester and we do it all in Japan.” Other techniques include printing on top of super fine lurianic wool and making plaid from scratch. The technique can be visually seen on his plaid jumper, where he digitally prints the barb wire first and goes back to print a digital rendering of a cow.
The designer is expanding into women’s wear this year and, if anything like the aspirational pieces he has created for men’s, is sure to resonate with customers. “I don’t want to be famous, I just want my clothes to be remembered,” Taylor concluded. “There are enough famous people. I just want to be remembered by my art. I’d like to show in Paris, maybe get carried by a decent store or even a dope partnership. Nonetheless, I am excited for what’s to come.”
Read below for more on the brand’s beginnings, challenges and goals ahead.
WWD: Where does the name come from?
Ryan Taylor: The name of the brand is Ryan Knew. It’s a play on my name, my name is Ryan Taylor. [In] life I always feel like people doubt you and one day I’ll be able to tell the world like I knew and people will be like “oh yeah, like he really did know what he was doing.”
WWD: When did you launch?
R.T.: In 2017, two-and-a-half years old now. Still growing, still learning, finding new techniques, still going out and finding new production. Moving it from Japan to Italy this year, trying to get into suiting, more so, and just bigger garments.
WWD: Has it been hard being based in Texas?
R.T.: Super difficult, super difficult. All the contacts are here [in New York]. I can see why people move here and why the industry is here. Production hasn’t really slowed me down because I produce overseas, so it’s just making the pattern, getting material, sourcing, going through rough drafts until I get the final project. As far as our reach, it’s a lot more difficult coming from Texas. Instagram and social media are huge up here, a lot of brands and a lot more people, like you.
WWD: What do you love about pockets? Everything looks accessible.
R.T.: I’m from the Army. I went to Afghanistan twice. Everything has to have pockets and have accessibility.
WWD: How would you describe the brand’s aesthetic?
R.T.: If it’s my honest description, it would be a brand built on New Age technology and design, new cuts. If I could describe the Ryan Knew man, it would be a guy who looks for those specific pieces to pop, not necessarily a full wardrobe but just pieces — we call them “grails.” I’m big on making pieces that stand out, we might not have the full outfit where I make the T-shirt and the jacket with it, but you can pull a pair of Sherpa pants and pair it with another Sherpa. I just want to make stand-out pieces that flow.”