Building a successful career in fashion isn’t always as simple as graduating from design school, landing an internship, and finding a label of your own. For designer Alana Johnson, the idea for her wildly popular label Orseund Iris developed post-college, during a series of freelance gigs where she was able to hone her artistic eye. “I was fresh out of college and working multiple gigs, really stretching myself thin,” she explains when we stop by her sunny Brooklyn apartment. “Freelance art directing, content producing, graphic designing on the side... You name it, I was doing it.”
But Johnson wasn’t just working behind the scenes on other brands—during those years she was slowly building a loyal following surrounding her burgeoning label by testing various styles on Instagram. By encouraging consumer engagement with her design process, and finding out which pieces received the biggest response from would-be customers, the 25-year-old eventually built a following of over 155K followers. “So much of it was trial and error,” she says, “creating more of the content people liked, and a stronger vision and aesthetic.”
Once we round the corner to her spacious walk-in closet, it’s easy to understand the roots of the Orseund Iris brand. Barely-there slip dresses mingle with flared patterned trousers; a vintage pin-striped Céline suit hangs on one end of the closet rack; on the other, a series of sparkly knit sweaters from Vivienne Tam. It’s all a perfect mix of ’90s minimalism, ’70s rock ’n’ roll, and an unapologetic dash of sex appeal, which, after spending the afternoon with the designer, we can tell fits her and her brand to a T. The knit corset top—which some may argue was what initially launched her career into the stratosphere—with its defined bust, off-the-shoulder-silhouette, and cropped fit, makes all the more sense. Fittingly, Johnson seems to embody what the Orseund Iris girl is all about: unapologetic about what she wants, and confident in the choices she makes for herself, especially when it comes to getting dressed.
In between trying on fuzzy hats and rhinestone earrings, as well as comparing our favorite records (Johnson acting as DJ, of course) we chatted about how the designer developed her personal style before and after starting her own line, as well as where she loves to dig for vintage in the city and the trends she predicts will be huge in 2019.
Click through to see what else we discovered in her closet, and shop pieces inspired by her closet here.