Joining AOS - NYC 2021
Ever since I started working for AOS the summer of 2020, we’ve all been isolated, living in different places with different lifestyles and to-do lists. I couldn’t tell if it was specific to COVID or normal to feel like this. Morgane, Dan, and Wes knew each other as coworkers and friends. I didn’t know anyone.
With time, we did begin to relax around each other—smiles during team video calls, peace signs to sign off, the shared excitement at the sight of a new backdrop when someone moved locations. Morgane told me about how glad she is there’s another “girl” on the team, since women in this industry are a rare sighting, especially on the business side. We’d laugh about how lonely she felt before. And I was happy to be someone to talk to.
Then, when Dan finally announced the official dates for an NYC trip, the stars shrugged at Morgane and I.
She had moved to England with her husband months prior and couldn’t get certification to travel.
Everyone else going to NYC, (except for Matthew, newest member!), already knew the city and each other.
Adding to everything, I’d be the youngest on the trip. I certainly don’t mind that fact; it’s been somewhat of a party trick for people who can’t tell my age just by looking at me, but I was nervous.
This would be the first time I’d meet anyone in person. I didn’t know what to expect from this Boy’s Club.
December 2, 2021: 7 PM.
I couldn’t even find the door to the place.
Walking up and down the same stretch of street, I spent almost ten minutes before texting Dan to get me. Come to find out, the address was, indeed, there—scribbled next to the entrance with a graffiti pen, as if people would know it wasn’t just another street art message backdropped by others in a classic Bushwick mural.
I walked three flights into the studio, finding it dark and well-inhabited by heaps of clothes. That night, we only shot new collection products on hangers. So, between texting clients, shooting the clothes, and obsessing over the angle of the hanger, I had nothing to do. I didn’t want to be weird and just sit there. I did also promise Dan I’d get pictures of the trip on film. But beyond that, I didn’t know how much help I would be.
Dinner was cute and comfortable, but being vegan always makes ordering slightly awkward. And pizza without cheese tastes just as weird as it sounds.
Back at the Airbnb, Matt and Dan gave me first dibs on bedroom pick, saving me from the beguiling air-mattress on the third floor. It was surprisingly refreshing how accommodating they were. Both always asked if I needed the restroom available before using it themselves. And Matt hung up a few dress shirts in my room, asking each time he needed one if it was alright to go get it, even when the door was wide open and I was obviously not in there.
On the second day, we went to Gladson headquarters to set up dressing rooms and trunk show space.
All the people there were very welcoming and enthusiastic about the day’s work. They were equally as excited to wear the clothes waiting on the racks. We had dozens of pieces from the new collection, as well as clothing already on the site. Good luck and planning had it so mostly everyone could fit into all the garments. And there were quite a few heavy-hitting pieces well-shared among the group.
I, on the other hand, had to rely on a separate wardrobe to build from—most of the pieces looking radically different from the classic AOS style. Lucky as it may seem to have clothes of my own, I couldn’t enjoy wearing any other pieces, and I felt separated from those experiences.
The first look I wore was mildly inspiring. I wore a plaid suit that spoke louder than I do, and a daunting topcoat. I didn’t care if I looked “cool” in other people’s eyes. Visually, I was different in every way to everyone else. I couldn’t recognize myself in these clothes, and I felt like everyone could tell.
Photo by Alex Crawford
I was also nervous about having my picture taken, since I didn’t know the photographer and couldn’t imagine being a reliable model. I’ve only ever worked with one photographer, Ethan Wong, on the West Coast, and the two of us joke around 100% of the time. I didn’t know Alex or if I’d be able to do what he needed me to.
At one point, I felt pretty discouraged about this whole team bonding thing. Everything stacking up, it seemed I was ill-matched in every way. I felt more like one in a group and not one with the group.
But on the third day, I learned quickly that I had nothing to worry about, and the AOS team welcomed me effortlessly.
Dan, or Mr. BossMan as I have in my phone, pioritized my integration into the team ever since I began interning. His visions for life and the brand are authentic beyond measure, making AOS a truly unique team.
I’m often asked if I’m studying fashion or interested in making clothes, but to be honest, it’s the people I care about most.
Dan took a chance giving me the opportunity to explore with him, even though I was young and without much experience. I feel that sense of gratitude each day I work.
Wes is like a cool, East Coast, boy version of me, sharing a lot of similarities I wasn’t expecting. He’s a perfectionist in his own way, a master of overthinking, with an endless stream of creative ambition. Quiet before you get to know him, he’s keen on letting you in on his full sense of self when connection hits. He’s the older brother I always wanted and genuinely someone I’d like to know more about.
Alex’s excitement and honesty about life and his work carries the mood of the group. His enthusiasm invites others to bring their strengths and talents to the table, giving space for everyone to flourish. Each day of the trip, his creative ambition led us to new places. Every location and opportunity was spontaneous, and we often found ourselves quite literally chasing sunlight to get the perfect shot. He recently moved back to LA, right in my childhood stomping grounds. He's proving to be one of the best connections ever.
Sometimes, we took red lights as opportunities to run into the street.
And Gladson became our chill spot whenever we could catch a break.
In the last few days, I finally began feeling comfortable in my clothes, and I told myself to enjoy the ride.
I have all the time in the world to live life’s questions and just the right people to do it with.
Photo by Jacob Edwards
Photo by Alex Crawford
Before I joined AOS, I always appreciated the team from afar.
Classic, dapper, and organized, I never knew how much more there was lying just beneath the surface.
Photo by Jacob Edwards
Familiarity has a funny way of being one of the quietest but most reassuring feelings. It can be impossible to find but only takes seconds to recognize.
AOS is just the start of a friendship, and it already feels like family.
This is more than a job and more than a team.
I couldn’t have asked for more.
Thanks, as always...