Tie-dye was the comeback kid of SS18, with designers flooding their collections with the psychedelic '90s mainstay. From Burberry's wavy tank tops and puffer jackets to MSGM's more hippy-inspired take, dyed fabric went from rainy day activity to an elevated and totally wearable sartorial choice. The season before, AW17, also saw flashes of tie-dye, most notably at Ellery, Libertine and Gypsy Sport, and now its appearance on the high street has confirmed its place in our wardrobes.
One brand in particular has been instrumental in bringing back the homespun effect: ASAI, founded by British designer A Sai Ta. London-born and raised, the Central Saint Martins graduate held posts at The Row and was headhunted by Kanye West for YEEZY just one year into his studies. Fashion East, the nonprofit platform founded by Lulu Kennedy, which nurtures emerging designers through the typically tough initial stages of their careers, first spotted A Sai at his graduate show back in 2014. "Its identity felt very complete and confident," Lulu says of his first show. "I loved it right away."
"His collection was standout, with its intense overlocking technique creating something totally new and memorable," Natasha Booth, Fashion East's project manager, says. "A few years later he started his own brand and applied for Fashion East's support." September's London Fashion Week, SS19, will be his fourth season with the pioneering initiative.
Why did Lulu want to work with ASAI after his debut show? "A Sai is a sensitive thinker who beautifully lifts up his Asian heritage, but never in a heavy way - there's a lot of humour going on." While his collections explore the intricacies and nuances of his British-Chinese-Vietnamese heritage, and his experience as a second-generation Londoner, it's his signature tie-dye pieces that have recently caught the attention of Instagram's coolest, with ASAI's kaleidoscopic 'hot wok' tops cropping up at Notting Hill Carnival this month. "The vision is modern, fresh, and really wild - and girls look hot in it," Lulu explains.
"A Sai has a unique and unapologetic vision," Natasha says of her love for the brand. "His clothes empower women to feel and look like their best selves – every time I wear a piece, girls stop me and ask where they can find it." WAH Nails and Beauty Stack founder Sharmadean Reid wore hers with a Nike crop underneath, Lily Allen went full-on neon with her matching hair, tracksuit bottoms and kicks, and Lulu repped the brand with its panelled mini dress.
The technical skill that goes into ASAI's collections is stunning, the brand's 'anti-perfection' aesthetic toying with the notion of luxury fashion. While we await its upcoming SS19 show with excitement, in the meantime we're donning our skintight, tie-dye, technicolour number and heading to the last of summer's parties.