In this issue, we welcome Audrio from AYE & Co. From his student days to the struggles he faced in the past, we are able to see how he views fashion. Explaining his love for fashion and music, he also allows us to see a glimpse into fashion in Indonesia and Asia, giving out advice to those who are seeking to build a brand themselves.
Nana : Nice to meet you!
Audrio : Nice to meet you too! I’ve actually heard some of your podcasts, some of my friends have been on this interview.
Nana : Oh really?!
Audrio : Yeah, I really like it!
Nana : Thank you so much, we’re doing our best to create a platform for Asian designers to let their voices be heard and for our listeners who want to become fashion designers like you.
Can you give us a little introduction to your brand?
Audrio : Yes, so AYE&Co. was found in 2011, and actually, we started with only two people who had the same ambition and taste in fashion. The idea for the brand started in 2010 and we slowly prepared things like the logo, website, branding, products, fabrics, and so on. The brand concept itself revolves around the secret society of ancient secrets, politics, and science. That message is the name and our products and we try to deliver messages about our point of view about politics, society, and problems in the world that people tend to ignore or don’t know about. We are using fashion as a medium to deliver these messages to people.
Nana : Oh nice! Like a social statement for people to explore.
Audrio : Yeah, so when they see these messages, they may get curious and they might google it. It’s kind of fun actually.
Nana : Your products center around jeans and so it’s really interesting and unique that you try to include those messages on your jeans.
Why did you decide to create this brand and how did you come up with the name “AYE&Co.”?
Audrio : This is funny but I’ve never studied fashion and the rest of my members on the team had never studied it either. I was actually an advertising and marketing major.
Nana : So that’s why you know how to do promotion for your brand.
Audrio : Yes, that helped a lot with that. My partner was a business major so that united us and we started to discuss creating a brand. For my side, I love music and I was in a band actually. I played bass and guitar, I really love punk rock. Aside from their music, I always pay attention to their fashion.
Just keep going and your time will come eventually.Audrio FROM AYe & co.
Nana : They are very connected.
Audrio : They were born to be together. So, people in the entertainment industry have to stand among others and when people see them they have to be like “Oh that’s the guy”. And they do that by how they style themselves. And I love to pay attention to that. For example, I love a band called Blink-182 and I always pay attention to what they are wearing like what is the brand of their shorts, what brand is the t-shirt, what is the fabric being used? Back then I was buying all these things and trying so hard to look like them. It’s like your own statement, “I love this band, I wanna look like them”. But then, I realized that I was spending way too much on these things. And so why not make them myself rather than spending all this money? So that I could make money and look good at the same time
Nana: True, true, solely on your own.
Audrio : At that time, that was a bold move since I had an office job. But after that, I quit my office job for an advertising agency and I started the brand by using the money I made from working 9 to 5. The three of us invested in the brand and so back then, it was like the brand would be expanding and fruitful or it would fail. There was either a go big or go home kind of thing.
Nana : It’s amazing that you guys have like three hundred thousand followers right now on Instagram.
Audrio : Thank you, and those are real followers, we didn’t buy any of them!
Nana : I can totally see that!
Audrio : Now you asked about how we named it but, actually “AYE” is short for “all seeing eye”. It’s the eye that sees everywhere. It means that we need the eye to see everywhere, to see opportunity, chance, failure, risk and responsibility.
Nana : You mentioned that you love music but has that heavily influenced your designs?
Audrio : You’re right. I used my love for fashion and music as my inspirations. A lot has actually been our inspiration for the past 10 years. Back in 2010, we were inspired by the raw denim movement by the brand Nudie Jeans and we were amazed at how raw denim could revolutionize in color. I love how raw denim can create and establish the character or the person wearing them. If you own a pair of raw jeans, over time it changes based on how you wear them and your character. That’s why a lot of our denim is influenced by American denim culture and Asian streetwear culture. We have some of our signature articles influenced by brands like Levi’s, Iron-Heart, The Hundreds, NEIGHBORHOOD, and HUMAN MADE. Even like a daily brand like UNIQLO.
Nana : I see, wow, you have a lot of knowledge of Japanese brands!
Audrio : I love Japan and Tokyo. I’ve been there three times but I always wanna go back. After the pandemic, I’m definitely going there. Every time I go, it’s never enough, no matter how many days I spend there.
Nana : Do you like the culture in Japan?
The culture and also the food. I like how you can create your own style like the styles in Harajuku or Omotesando. I like how depending on the area, they have different styles. I love how that is.
Nana : Is that the same for Indonesia?
Audrio : I feel like in Indonesia, there are quite a lot of different styles. But to say that it’s “Indonesian style”, it’s not there yet. But every time in Japan, it’s like “This is Tokyo” or “This is Japan”.
Nana : It’s easy to distinguish.
Audrio : Exactly. So our brand is really influenced by Japanese fashion styles.
Nana : I feel like the combination of Indonesian and Japanese styles becomes your brand. I would also like to ask you about any impression you have of the current fashion scene in Indonesia.
Audrio : I am actually amazed by a lot of it! Many brands from Indonesia are worldwide and they create cool pieces and collaborations. For example, one of our friends, a brand called Oldblue Co. is doing a collaboration with SAMURAI JEANS which is a famous denim brand. And I think that’s a real achievement for Independent brands in Indonesia. The fashion market in Indonesia has a very wide range in price and quality. You can get a t-shirt starting from $2 up to 50$. So it’s either low or high quality. Both are okay for me but I’ll choose quality over every time. What is the point of having a brand if the quality is poor? SO, if you are thinking about the brand long-term, good quality products will last longer and will bring benefits for you and the people who buy them.
Nana : I see that your brand is really focused on quality.
Audrio : Of course, because we believe that good products with bad marketing mean that you are fooling yourself. And good marketing with bad products means that you are fooling your market.
Nana : Definitely.
Audrio : So, both have to be balanced.
Nana : Would your target be say for people over 20?
Actually, our products can be worn by a wide range of people. Even my dad wears them.
Nana : Nice, so it’s an ageless brand then! Jeans are definitely a timeless piece. Over the span of 10 years of running your brand, were there any big troubles along the way?
Audrio : Actually, every day is challenging for us but our first was back in 2011 when we launched our first collection. At that time there was no Instagram. There was Twitter and Facebook and we used it along with word of mouth but at that time the struggle was real in trying to make your brand known to the market.
Nana : True.
Audrio : There was this one time when we were at this famous club not to hang out but to go straight to the parking lot to put stickers on peoples’ cars.
Nana : What, really?
Audrio : Yes, so that people can get curious about us. That was a nice time actually.
Nana : Nice idea but so risky at the same time.
Audrio : It was, it was. It was either they hate us or they find out about our brand. It was quite the impact. The second challenge was when the pandemic started. We had to close our store and move to another place to open a new store. And obviously, the economy was doing good too. Personally, this was around the time I got married and so I had to divide my priorities at the same time.
Nana : Both public and private must be really tough!
Audrio : Well, thanks to my great partner and staff and their hard work, we worked through it.
Nana : How many staff do you have at the moment?
Audrio : 15.
Nana : Wow, you’re also in the company management as well right?
Audrio : Yes,
Nana : I know that must be hard.
Audrio : Yeah, but we are still pretty small. But we are trying to get bigger and bigger. Especially in this situation, I believe that many brands are still surviving.
Nana : You’ve talked about different fashion cultures in Asia but have you noticed a difference before and after the pandemic hit?
Audrio : Of course, but especially on how people choose their outfits.
Nana : Towards more comfortable clothes.
Audrio : Before the pandemic, everyone put more effort into choosing and styling their outfits. Even if people had like 2 or 3 meetings in their day, they would bring a few outfits for different occasions. But now everything has changed and because everything is online people have shifted to comfortable and simple clothing.
Nana : Are you making some pairs of jeans to suit this trend?
Audrio : Actually, in two quarters since the pandemic, our sales have been dropping by almost fifty percent. And so we switched our production agenda into making outfits that are more easy and comfortable to wear. And so we started making relaxable t-shirts, shorts, hats, and even masks. So we went towards more easy-to-wear outfits that allow you to go through the pandemic.
Nana : So you guys are making a variation in your products in order to sell them even during the pandemic.
Audrio : Yeah.
Nana : I think that it’s a really good strategy. More people will know the brand’s name and will lead to more customers even after the pandemic.
Audrio : True.
Nana : Do you have any final advice you could give to our readers and what they should do to build a successful brand like AYE & Co?
Audrio : First of all, I think you need to find your purpose and goal. Why do you want to build a brand in the fashion industry? How far would you go to accomplish your goals? It’s not an instant process like making instant ramen, you know. Everything is shifting really fast due and especially to things like technology. But it’s really important to enjoy each step of the process. It’s okay to fail but you have to learn from your failures.
Nana : Cannot keep failing.
Audrio : Just keep going and your time will come eventually. My second piece of advice is to pick the right people to be in your team. I believe that even for sixtypercent, there is a great staff behind right? We cannot do everything alone and so we have to choose the right people to go far. Maybe the last one is to find your brand concept and brand position in the market.
Nana : So more people can approach your brand.
Audrio : Yes, and of course you have to have some fun. Like what’s the point if you can’t have fun?
Text: Yuka Yoshimura