Designer Yoon Ahn Sets the Tone for Luxury Streetwear

Jul 22, 2020 | BIZ, NEWS, POP, STYLE, US

Meet Yoon Ahn, one of the most influential fashion designers who reengineered today’s streetwear x luxury. Yoon Ahn bent the rules and winning the luxury game with ‘street’ sensibilities.

It starts with Ambush

The Ambush design company was founded in 2002 by Verbal and Yoon Ahn. The 1977-born Yoon Ahn of Korean descent grew up with an obsession for streetwear from the fashion capitals of New York and London; flipping through the grandeur and opulence portrayed in the pages of Vogue, i-D and The Face magazines during her West Coast adolescence. 

Practicing Christianity as faith, the husband-wife duo met at the Boston University, where Verbal qualified in Philosophy and Marketing, while Yoon Ahn studied graphic designs. After leaving school, Verbal began his career in the music industry with M-Flo. 

With no formal training in jewelry design, the duo started making jewelry pieces in collaboration with friends. Yoon inspired Verbal to replace the traditional hip-hop baggy style clothing donned generally by rappers, with brands such as Dior and Raf Simons.  In the pre-Instagram days, the duo would ‘peacocked’ their way into the Tokyo club scene with their bold designed jewelry. 

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GOT THE GOODS . All @ambush_official pieces in @10magazine+ ISSUE 2 . . #10PlusMagazine #AMBUSH #jewelry

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The Rise of Mixing High and Low

Verbal was also a part of the Japanese rap group Teriyaki Boyz then, which gained popularity in the early 2000s. While the Japanese streetwear was blending with hip-hop in the 90s, varsity jackets, full-zip Bape hoodies, baggy denim, diamond-encrusted shades, thick gold chains with medallions, LA Gear high-tops and studded leather jacket were heavily trending.  

American rappers Kanye West, the Beastie Boys, and Pharell were among the first American rappers who embraced this emerging culture in the 90s, timed just riped for Yoon Ahn’s jewelry line to take off with her incredible sense of mixing luxury with streetwear.

The duo designed the first iconic trademarked POW!® motif pendant, an XL diamond rendering of the classic comic book speech bubble, that garnered huge media attention when Kanye West sported the POW.  It was in 2003 that Kanye introduced Yoon Ahn to Virgil and Kim Jones, and through time the association got deeper to flourish.  

AMBUSH opened its flagship store in Tokyo on September 2, 2016, and was among the top 8 finalists for the coveted LVMH PRIZE in 2017.

Redefining fashion and pop-culture, the trio of Virgil Abloh, Kim Jones, and Yoon Ahn premiered with Dior Homme jewelry line and clothing at the Paris men’s fashion week Spring/Summer 2018 and Kanye West joined them to support their creations.  

Yoon Ahn was later appointed as a jewelry designer for Dior Men, soon after Kim Jones assumed a leadership role to helm the Dior brand.

Yoon Ahn today is juggling from the front, balancing two jobs as a jewelry designer for Dior Homme and as the founder of AMBUSH designs, shuttling between Tokyo and Paris. Yoon Ahn holds temperamental aversion to being categorized. She plays with unpredictability in her creations for a freshness vibe in her designs.

Capturing distinct Tokyo aesthetic and inspired by innovative pop art design, Yoon Ahn’s experimental line of jewelry and clothing are designed to meet futuristic survival instincts with a vast array of quilted vests, ripstop nylon, carabiner clips worn as earrings and cargo pants, her collection stand out from the clutter in street fashion.  

Carving a niche for themselves in the dynamic world of fashion, the duo Verbal and Yoon Ahn have ranked among the Top 500 people influencing the global fashion industry in the Business of Fashion list for four consecutive years from 2015. Their idiosyncratic style has won the Ambush brand, commissions, and collaborations from the elites of the fashion world including Louis Vuitton, Sacai, UNDERCOVER, Off-White, SHU UEMURA, Nike, CONVERSE, Rimowa, and GENTLE MONSTER.

Yoon Ahn launched the Ambush Autumn-Winter 2020 collection of timeless classics exploring the countryside and the road less traveled. Inspired by the grand luxury and not subtlety, Yoon’s designs portray a balance between the hard and soft, exuding magnetic charm to attract from the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid,  A$AP, Simi and Haze and the Jenners.

Ambush had been acquired by the New Guards Group in early 2020.