When you meet Allison Ko, she has a way of making you feel special. She gives everyone the care and attention they deserve, equally and happily so. Going back to her youth, she was born and raised in Houston, Texas, she said, “(that’s) something that I laugh at but am overall proud to say.” She is currently a fourth semester fashion design student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, “I have always been fascinated by art and the notion of creating something from ordinary materials. I love designing and producing special and thoughtful pieces that others can appreciate.” Her pieces are unlike any other as she puts a lot of attention to detail and a lot of her soul. Fashion designers, mind you, don’t sleep. They work long hours to create something meaningful that people can see and that’s what’s admirable about her.
Allison claims that she is more an ambivert, “I love meeting people and learning about their unique experiences, building connections and relationships that way. Though I do also have an appreciation for alone time and finding company in one’s self.” In addition to fashion, she really enjoys cooking and baking, “I love being able to share food with friends; the entire process is very relaxing for me.” (I’ve actually tried her food, I can attest to it being amazing)
When it comes to the artistic schooling, projects are vital as they demonstrate all that one has learned thus far. For fashion designers, it’s even more so. Ko is currently doing her “design projects for school including a full garment, fashion illustrations, and a digital design presentation. I’m really excited about my visual design project that is slowly but surely coming together.”
She created this “mini collection last summer inspired by the textures of the ocean juxtaposed by athletic lines and materials, which you can see below. I wanted to translate those actual garments into artwork that I could incorporate into my portfolio.” Amazing.
Another project that she recently finished was a “dress made from recycled coffee pods that was supposed to be shown in the annual Macy’s flower show.” She spent over 200 hours working on that dress, cutting up coffee pods at night and working on it throughout the day, “I was incredibly proud of what I made using recycled materials. Unfortunately the show was cancelled this year, but fingers crossed it will be in the next one!” We really hope so too!
The 19 year old addressed the obstacles of the fashion design industry and how to overcome it. “Self-doubt is something that is incredibly difficult to eliminate, especially attending one of the best fashion schools in the world. Being surrounding by a community of extremely talented and skilled individuals is both a blessing, and a curse. I feel that many of my peers can admit to looking around the room and comparing one’s self to others. The industry is very competitive and being good is not enough, one truly has to be remarkable and have the talent, opportunities, and work ethic to succeed.” This can be emotionally and mentally demanding and as a result, even physically demanding. But as nothing comes easily, Allison claims she wouldn’t trade such an experience (living and designing in NYC) for the world, “I am definitely more confident in my vision and talent, but it is a work in progress. Living in a very urban city has also challenged me to curate a lifestyle that is healthy and efficient regarding my work. It was an adjustment, but I would argue that living in NYC has taught me so much about what I am capable of, and made me stop and appreciate things that went unnoticed prior.”
As the young designer mentioned that fashion design can be really demanding, she believes time management is the key to her success. She is confident she can get things done and tries to remove any tangible distractions, “I know I can finish all of my work to my standard if I work efficiently and diligently. I prefer to put my phone in a drawer, and power through tasks in less time, rather than spend the whole day going back and forth with varying levels of productivity.” In regards to her more creative projects, she states that she is “more lenient and try to give myself time to walk away from something, and come back to it with a fresh eye and a renewed sense of inspiration.”
We asked her to give you all, if you are interested in fashion design, a piece of advice.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to prioritize your tasks, set goals, and create a balanced schedule. Writing down concrete tasks that you want to accomplish by the end of the day or week, and holding yourself accountable for those set goals. Balance is extremely important though as the stress from a million different things happening (at once) can be harmful. Give yourself breaks and fun things to look forward to so you are productive, but also happy.”
A great individual is not made out of thin air. It truly takes strong role models and hard work to reap greatness and Allison has definitely achieved that. Her greatest influence is her mom, “I would not be the person I am today without her. In life, she inspires me to have no fear, and pursue everything with thoughtfulness and passion.” It’s because of that, Allison found herself in fashion. “From such a young age, I’ve always observed how clothing can and does affect a person. I’ve seen first-hand how important it is for the wearer to feel confident and beautiful in what they are wearing, and that is always in the back of my mind when designing.” She doesn’t disappoint in her work because at the end of the day for her, it’s about who’s wearing it and how they’re feeling, everything else comes next.
In the midst of quarantine, she is currently home in Texas but wishes to fly back to New York to spend time with her friends and the city. She enjoys being home and appreciates her invaluable time with her family, however, “it is difficult to be inspired in such a confined space.” The energy of the city is what she calls home now as she constantly gravitates towards it and feel instantly more creative. Alongside that, she misses her friends and having those interactions with them is important to her.
Allison is a phenomenal character who, like many of us, are navigating this thing called life, but Allison is capable and knows how to enjoy it. If you’re interested in getting to know her, you can follow her on Instagram here. You can check out her work as well!
Bonus: Favorite fashion pieces, and why?
“My go-to piece is this cropped printed denim jacket that I ‘borrowed’ from my mom (and never returned). I love the unique print, puffy sleeves, and the fact that I’ve never seen anything like it. When the weather is cooler you can find me in my Levi’s teddy jacket 90% of the time. It has the structure of a classic denim jacket with a patchwork of contrasting teddy/fur textures. I love the oversized fit and I feel so safe and powerful when I wear it. Aside from jackets, my favorite top is by the sustainable brand Reformation which has great company ethics and high-quality pieces. The square-neck and rushing details are very flattering and I notice that I feel more confident whenever I wear it.”