She was a fashion designer who couldn’t sew…
Now she’s using her own label to elevate marginalized communities to contribute to the industry in ways she never imagined possible.
Despite having never studied fashion, Anya Ayoung-Chee won Project Runway in 2011. “I always had an issue with the barriers to entry in the industry.” She says. “Being able to finally participate in a technology that is all about democratizing opportunity and to be a living breathing example of that is almost not believable in a sense. It’s really a dream.”
WYLD FLWR was born out Anya’s own experience designing for Trinidad’s carnivals, and going to Burning Man in 2017. She realized that carnival fashion – done so well in the Caribbean – doesn’t really have a place in the formal fashion world.
Seeing the limitations of scale in the festival and carnival networks, the metaverse was especially exciting as an area for expansion. “I realized that the type of clothes that we design have a space in a much more imaginative world. This isn’t cancelling out our physical line: it’s this merging of physical and digital that creates a unique business opportunity, and with Phygicode’s support and guidance, we’re really going after this.”
Freedom is a theme that runs through the brand. Anya has created a direct link to financial independence and financial freedom of the women who make the physical clothing: WYLD FLWR is connected directly to a women’s livelihood initiative in Trinidad called Spool, where they are teaching migrant women of Venezuela descent, as well as local Trinidadian women, how to sew for the fashion carnival industry.
“WYLD FLWR is 100% about freedom of expression through the wearing of the clothes, the creative sovereignty of the design and the ability to create in this wildly imaginative way. The social impact aspect of the brand is a key part of the work. And really there’s been no other more exciting way to express that than through this collaboration with Phygicode and the entry into the metaverse through Metaverse Fashion Week and beyond.”
Phygicode themselves are a consortium of industry leaders in the metaverse with Andrea Abrams, Founder and Chief Metaverse Officer, being in a unique position to connect the physical and digital worlds through her years of experience in fashion retail and blockchain investing.
Andrea says: “The fashion industry loves an experience, and virtual worlds, like Decentraland are starting to provide a platform to recreate the same activities that you see in the physical world. What Phygicode wants to do is to create a great experience to showcase products, featuring great brands as a collaboration.”
The impact Anya and WYLD FLWR are making was the deciding factor in making this the first Phygicode collaborative project. “We had a lot of choices of brands we could do this with, but it was very important to do the very first collaboration with a brand that represents all the wonderful components of our ethos at Phygicode.”
“WYLD FLWR communicates through their values.” Andrea says. “And I think what Anya embodies is this idea of providing access with her celebrity, with her platform – she’s giving access to a creative community that would otherwise never communicate with people like me or people like you.”
“We’re all looking for something exciting, unique, more bespoke, and more representative of our values these days. So we’re really looking forward to seeing how we can bring a lesser known brand, that we think has an extraordinary value and an amazing story to a world stage alongside other world-class luxury names.”
Working with Phygicode has been transformative for Anya. She told us: “The WYLD FLWR collaboration is truly a manifestation of what web three is designed to do. I am so glad to not just be talking about this anymore and actually be an example of it.”
Anya is already creating extraordinary change in her community, but believes the reach of this work will continue to expand and transform more lives.
And where does she see the future of fashion? “It’s already manifest in this collaboration and others like it.” She says. “It supports the conscious consumerism approach that has evolved over the last few years in the developed world.”
“Although it feels really idealistic to imagine that fast fashion will start to become less and less the dominant play in the fashion world, perhaps the VR and AR experience will satisfy that very human desire to consume in a different way.”