Amongst the current generation of rock and metal musicians, true style tastemakers are regrettably few and far between. However, peppered throughout the scene are glimmers of hope for the image crisised 2000’s.Ælike Ashley Purdy.
The Los Angeles musician is best known for his role as the animated bassist for Black Veil Brides, but its the rocker’s undeniable sense of style both on and off stage that has earned Ashley an international cult following. Luckily, Ashley has a background in fashion design and an entrepreneurial spirit.Æwhich have helped with his foray into the fashion industry.
The budding designer launched his namesake fashion brand in March 2013, and after only one year into the endeavor, is already one of the most sought-after brands on the rock fashion Mecca.ÆMelrose Ave.
We spoke with Ashley in Los Angeles about his new line, why being a performer has given him a unique perspective on international fashion trends, and why Ashley Purdy Fashion is not just another famous name on a t-shirt.
When did you get started with the line and getting Ashley Purdy Fashion?
Well, I went to Art and Design College and I have a Bachelors in Communication Design with an emphasis on fashion, marketing, and advertising. So that’s my background. I’ve always been a designer, generally.
I’ve always had the idea of starting a fashion line but I was always working on music at the same time. In a way they go hand in hand. Throughout my career as a musicians I would sew, make, and create all the stage costumes.Æand I’ve always been in really theatrical bands. In a way, I was a fashion designer already.
Music was the first thing to take its course and after I was able to “make it”, I had the time to start going into other endeavors, whether it was the fashion line or investing in other companies. I was already working with local L.A. seamstresses and tailors, even on Black Veil stuff.Æand that is what parlayed into me having my own clothing line.
My stuff is in the boutique shop Forgotten Saints on Melrose. I work with the owner (Cody Varona), who works with me on tailoring my designs and sourcing all the materials. When I’m on the road, I’m always sending her ideas, whether it’s a fabric, or a style, an accessory.Æwhatever.
When did you actually launch Ashley Purdy Fashion, Inc?
It was March 30th of 2013. So 3-30-13 was the official launch at Forgotten Saints. It went online April 1st.Æso it hasn’t even been a year yet.
How would you describe your aesthetic as a designer?
Well, obviously it’s rocker with a bit of country.Æthat’s me and my personality. I want the line to be a reflection of myself. But at the same time, I’m very streamlined and sophisticated. I’d say maybe a little provocative, maybe. a little. A little flashy [laughs]. I want it to be a semblance of who I am and who my fan base relates to. I really wanted to create custom pieces that had a boutique feel to them, because there are so many mass-produced merch companies and clothing lines that are just ripping off other people. I see that on Melrose. There are custom shops like Forgotten Saints (which has my stuff), but then you’ll walk down the street and see the same stuff regurgitated. It’s unoriginal. So that’s the reason I create what I do. It seems like – especially with band guys – that everybody has a clothing line, but really it’s just them taking a design and printing it on a t-shirt and calling it a clothing line. My stuff is definitely not that. When I roll out my collections I always have limited edition items, and when they sell out, I move on to the next thing, and then the next thing so that it stays fresh and stays unique.
What genuinely influences or inspires you when you are creating your collections or specific pieces?
I don’t think that it’s necessarily trends, but I have my finger on the pulse of the industry itself. I mean, I pay attention to fashion magazines and stuff like that. I’d say I have my own style and that I’ve adapted my own style to what I want to do. So really, there’s no influence.Æand I almost don’t want there to be one. I don’t want to subconsciously do what someone else has already done, you know? And I do the same thing with music. When we’re writing, I won’t listen to any other music because I don’t want to be influenced or have something else like a melody on my mind that maybe I heard a couple days ago, so that later I don’t think, “Oh it’s not mine.” I don’t want it to be that way in fashion either. I want to stay fresh. So I’m always sketching or drawing.
My thing right now is the off-the-shoulder, I wouldn’t say “eighties” [style], but definitely more comfortable.
Being a musician, do you find yourself designing from a performer’s perspective or is that something you are able to separate?
I personally design for myself because I know the way it fits on a body. And the same thing, when I’m drawing something or sketching something, I’m seeing how it will lay on a figure and just the lines of it, how it’s sewn. I do a lot of cut-and-sew type of things, so I really pay attention to the detail, and how it flows, how it lays.
Do you still have a hand in the Black Veil styling or the clothes the band wears?
Since the very, very beginning. The other guys aren’t really “stylish” dudes.Æthey just pick up their guitar and they play [laughs]. I mean, in any band that I’ve ever been in, it’s always been [me] dressing the members and making a cohesive look for the group. It’s the same thing now. The last couple times we’ve had stage costumes or needed clothes for music videos, I’d on a sketch pad with a pencil thinking, “What’s this guy going to wear?” or “What’s this going to look like for this guy?” And then we’d have it made. We’re so involved with our group.
Not enough bands have a “style” nowadays. It’s not like it was back in the heyday of KISS or Poison or Motley Crue. I think that’s really something missing in rock and metal today.
Maybe generally, but again .Æ and I think the reason we created the band we did with Black Veil .Æ is because that was missing from the scene. That was sort of the era of music that we grew up on, where style was so identifiable with a group. You see our band and you come to our shows.Æthey look like us. They’re out there in black leather and whatever.Æthey’re just dressed like.us.
How important do you think it is, especially in rock and metal, to have an identifiable style or image?
It’s everything. I think branding, marketing, a style.Æit’s everything. It’s a business. Besides the music itself, I mean, everything’ s important. Everything that’s in a name, a logo, how you brand it. I think if you don’t have that I don’t know how you’d succeed because nobody would remember you. Branding is about being memorable.
Being able to travel as extensively as you do with Black Veil Brides must have an impact on your aesthetic. Do you draw inspiration from the places you tour when designing?
Definitely. One of my favorite places we’ve been is Tokyo, Japan. But in most cities, like London for example.Æyou can see the same shit in New York or LA. You really have to go to these backstreet kind of places to really get the culture of where you’re at. The mass produced stuff you can find anywhere.
A lot of your designs have your name printed right on them. When people are wearing your name, what are they wearing? How would you describe the “Ashley Purdy” brand?
I guess again, people are accustomed to me being wild and adventurous. Okay, like the collection “Outlaw”.Æit’s a resemblance of myself or a part of myself that people already identify with. It’s also my personality. If you know me you kind of get it, I guess. And with social media and social networking, fan bases will create their own identities within you. Like my fans who started calling themselves “Purdy Girls”. And the same thing with my [outlaw] tattoo and people who started calling themselves “Outlaws”.Æso it only made sense to have those collections. The umbrella brand is “Ashley Purdy”, and that just goes with me.
Who is the Ashley Purdy customer?
How do I say this? I would say that the fan of Ashley Purdy has become more sophisticated. Right now, I’d say they’re a person who’s started to come into their own, and discover who they are. I see myself kind of guiding them through that transition from being an adolescent to an adult. My stuff is more sophisticated than the kitschy band stuff or something that you’d find at a store like Hot Topic. It’s transitioning them from shopping at a retail store to their first foray into fashion and the more iconic designers. I think my line is the entry to that. I think my line is a great start for a younger generation discovering fashion, and then maybe through me they’ll discover other designers.
What was the reaction from your band mates and peers in the music industry when you first launched Ashley Purdy Fashion? Was it generally supportive or did you get the “Oh, it’s just another musician-backed clothing line” reaction?
At first it was a no-brainer for people who know me. I mean, you’ll have both sides, but there was never really any hate or detriment. I don’t think people knew I was going to make such a fashion line rather than just a clothing line, you know? And I think of that.ÆI strive for it. I love John Varvatos. I would love to do that, and eventually start having fashion shows, and dressing musicians and celebrities.Æthat’s my next step. But as I told you, I’m not even a year into this.
So what is the next step for Ashley Purdy Fashion?
I’ll keep rolling out collections, but what I’ve even realized is that I almost can’t keep up with the demand. I’m already creating new collections and custom pieces, but they’ll sell out in like a day or two. So now, I’m thinking of how to keep it fresh. I don’t want a collection that lasts for a few months.Æ I want stuff that lasts just a week. I’ll always have staple items that keep the brand consistent but I’ll always keep generating custom pieces and collections. That’s already in the works. Eventually, yeah, we’ll have a fashion line, [and] we’ll get more people involved who want to model. We’ll do special events and shows, and we’ll co-brand with people I’m already involved with. I’m a part investor in Coldcock Whisky, so we’ll work with them.Æwhoever wants to get involved.
Anything planned for Spring or Summer collections right now?
I’m going to have a signature line collection coming out. It will be a little higher-end and a little more costly. We’re looking into doing jewelry as well. We’re already working on all of that.
Keep up with all of Ashley Purdy’s collections andKeep up with all of Ashley Purdy’s collections and releases at AshleyPurdy.com