Abel Honor New York is a new unisex fashion label that designs for now and tomorrow. The brand is driven by its motto… “an expression of everything you wanted to say but couldn’t.” Fuelled by individuality, Abel Honor New York has a no-nonsense approach to fashion. With product inspired by rebellious streetwear cultures with a sophisticated sartorial craft behind each silhouette. Their unique identity is defined by an understated sex appeal, making women and men present a different image of the current culture, at a high-end taste level. Backstage Tales had a chat with brand’s designer, Kate Wasserbach, a former Associate Designer for Michael Kors.
Can you take me back to when it all started? How did you come up with the idea for Abel Honor New York?
KW 10/30: I wanted to make a brand that empowered both men and women. I didn’t want a masculine brand; I didn’t want a feminine brand… I wanted a strong brand. Over anything, I wanted my customers to feel strong when wearing AHNY. I wanted them to feel confident. So, when I was thinking of the name Abel Honor New York, I made a mind map to enable me to think outside the box. I started to think of strong characteristics that were instilled in me… or strong qualities I find in others. The first strength that came to mind was someone who is a “can-do person” (as my mom would say…) A person who is not afraid of hard work, or offering a helping hand—someone willing and able. The next trait of strength I came to was a loyal person— an honourable person. It takes strength to be loyal and honourable. So, I pieced out ‘ABLE’, and ‘HONOR’ in my mind map and got ABLE HONOR. I loved the name, it sounded strong. I ended up switching out the ABLE to the name ABEL, to make it a little less literal. Before my grandfather died – the year I quit Michael Kors, to start AHNY- he told me that I have to add New York to the end of Abel Honor. He was and still is my day to day muse, so that was a no brainer. I am so happy I did that too. I am a New Yorker, born and raised – it is a huge part of me!
How do your past and upbringing influence the way you work?
KW 10/30: My parents are both entrepreneurs so that work ethic is in my blood. At a young age (my mom says 3 years old,) it apparently was very obvious that I would get into the arts. My parents have been a huge support system through it all. They have never tried to sway my vision. Even if I never wanted to become a Designer, they would never question it. I was taught at a young age that attitude and effort will get you far in any field and road you go down. So, even though my parents’ businesses are on the opposite spectrum of mine, that is the motto for all. That instilled a strength in me to go forward and start Abel Honor. Don’t think of the little details… if the attitude is there, and the effort is there, the sky is the limit. All that I am, I owe to my parents.
How do you define the Abel Honor customer? What are her/his interests? What’s important for her/him?
KW 10/30: I haven’t met him or her yet! But, I’m sure he or she is pretty sweet! I believe my ‘guy’, or ‘girl’ is limitless—they fall in love with everything! They appreciate yet they strive, they dream yet they are rooted, and they are patient yet fair. I can guess that if I met my customer at a bar, I would buy them a drink.
What inspires you to create?
KW 10/30: Irony. I love finding irony in art, and in life. It keeps it interesting… Like David Bowie said “I don’t know where I am going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” I love having a change of opinion in someone or something. A sense that what you see is not what you get. That encompasses the Abel Honor lifestyle. Abel Honor is not just an article of clothing, it is someone’s dream as well as someone’s reality… irony.
What was your main inspiration behind this collection?
KW 10/30: This collection was inspired by the contrast between faith and humanity – god and war. Angels are a symbol of guidance and peace, while war is a symbol of conflict and aggression. You will find the delicate, with the dense — creating a beautiful harmony.
What was the hardest thing you found when creating this collection?
KW 10/30: I left Michael Kors with 3 very close teammates and 17 + collections under my belt… and this was my first solo mission. No one can prepare you for the multitasking, and lack of comradery. Especially in design, us, artists are supposed to bounce and inspire ideas off of each other! Having the confidence in my creations, and only my creations, was the hardest part for me. I hate being alone!
How much do environmental issues impact your work when designing?
KW 10/30: I really do not agree with the fast fashion and waste that is happening in the industry. If you break it down, clothing is intended for functionality more so than it is for expression. I make clothes that will last. Ralph Lauren is a huge inspiration of mine. He made a lifestyle, not an article of clothing. You can live Ralph Lauren without even owning Ralph Lauren. I love that. My team never overlooks quality, and we specialize in construction. Fashion is not a revolving door… nothing should be. Aligning with this concept, we only release 2 collections per year—Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer.
What are you looking forward to the most in the next few years of brand development?
KW 10/30: Some help! Haha! I really look forward to being building a team and collaborating with other creatives that believe in Abel Honor as much as I do.
Interviewed by Irina Gorskaia
Images: Abel Honor archives