´Questioning yourself is a necessary element for self development´
Even while many companies have attempted to create an authentic vintage streetwear appearance, few have taken the effort to perfect and coordinate the ideal washes, designs, and silhouettes. One of the few contemporary streetwear brands that has had significant success is ASKYURSELF, which was founded in 2012. Its clothing line combines classic simplicity with a grungy vintage aesthetic that is ideal for a contemporary audience. Built as an expression of the wearer, ASKYURSELF gives a statement that is unabashedly personal to the wearer, generating frigid styles that may be fully constructed or styled to the wearer’s preferences without compromising the brand’s attitude. Embarking on a new chapter for the brand, ASKYURSELF is forever evolving.
I caught up with ASKYURSELF Founder and Creative Director, Chris Neu. Read our talk below
For those who don’t know, who are you, and what do you do?
Chris Neu, owner and founder of ASKYURSELF. Born and raised in Germany. One of a kind. Still a kid.
How did you first get into designing?
After being injured playing basketball as a young adult and ruining my planned career of eventually turning pro, I thought about how I could continue to be active in the sport. So I decided to organise events with a big basketball brand from the USA in Germany/EU, so I designed the complete campaign plus merchandise and promoted everything through flyers and myspace. Those were my first steps in designing things myself and creating my own world in which I felt comfortable. Everything went according to my vision.
What was your introduction to fashion before you started making clothes?
As mentioned, I had organised basketball tournaments where I was able to win several sponsors. At that time there was still no internet or very limited internet without social media. In 2004 I was offered to work for one of my sponsors, which I accepted. After a short time I was able to work as a buyer and work with brands such as new era, reebok, vans, C1RCA and many more. I also had the chance to go to trade shows and get to know and love the “non-digital” world of fashion and processes.
What inspired you to start your own clothing line?
After my time as a buyer and store manager, it was clear to me that I would have my own store or my own brand. I collected so many ideas over the years through my time as an athlete (Fan of Basketball and Rap / Rock Music) and as a buyer, the events, trade shows or brands that I had to create something of my own. it just slumbered in me, the point in time was never fixed at a specific year. Also spending time in Los Angeles and building many friendships there I connect my vision and idea of ASKYURSELF with the City of Angels and California Lifestyle. It’s the city where my dream takes place.
If you had to, how would you describe what ASKYURSELF is as a brand? What are ideals? What are the values?
A fashion brand that combines classic minimalism with silhouettes of different genres and nostalgic references from the 90’s to the early 00’s. It was created out of the desire to find the answer to asking ´how to create the perfect piece?´. As this answer is fluid and constantly evolving, so are the products, continuously developing. Every collection we ask ourselves, reflect and advance as well as improve because of that, which are the essential values of the brand:
Is there an axiom you live by, or design by?
Yes, the most important thing is always to hear the voice in me and to design a piece that I would wear every day without thinking twice and that I feel comfortable in without getting involved in a competition. First of all, it is about self-image and well-being. ASKYURSELF!
The name ASKYURSELF, to me, denotes a sort of self-discovery. What was the intention behind the name?
With the Y upside down, the brand expresses the mentality of being unique and consistent with its ever growing identity, with self-recreation as a way to progress.
´Questioning yourself is a necessary element for self development´
Every daily decision starts with a “conversation” with yourself. Should I take the job? Should I go party today? Should I call you Personal or professional questions, everyday questions or one-off questions. We are the result of our decisions.
Besides the obvious, what would you say are the biggest differences between ASKYURSELF when it was founded in 2012 and ASKYURSELF now in 2022?
It was possible for me to offer customers a larger range and product groups over the years, as well as to continuously improve the quality and image. I was able to do this through people I have met over the years through industry and social media and who believed in my vision and idea. To cite names intentionally Ste Wing, Simon from EJDER, UK, Travis Mills who modelled for the first and Jeff Staple who invited me to New York and I was able to work with after launching my first collection. I will never forget that.
Nowadays we see designers venture into interiors and furniture. How or will ASKYURSELF exist beyond fashion and clothing?
This year, for the first time, we will be releasing accessories that are a bit different from fashion, such as espresso cups, sunglasses, rugs or even collectible art, which I don’t want to talk too much about just yet. too many “i had it first” people out there.
Has social media and the rise of streetwear brands impacted your design process?
To be honest, it was possible to connect ASKYURSELF faster via social media and get them to the right places. In addition, social media serves as an inspiration for me personally and the brand, but also for development and you subconsciously process what you like or save it, which of course has an influence on the design process. However, the vision is relatively independent of what the brand stands for. But it is a very important tool, also for us, anything else would be a lie.
Would you say you have a muse? If so, who is it?
Travis Barker, Pharrell, Antwuan Dixon, Raif Adelberg, 90s Snoop, Boo Johnson
What advice would you give someone looking to start their own brand?
Isn’t every second person a designer today? What to say? Don’t do it if you’re not willing to go to war for it. It will take everything from you. appearances are deceptive. don’t underestimate it because of social media. It’s a business like any other.
I know you don’t ask a parent who their favourite child is, but what is your favourite ASKYURSELF piece?
It’s really hard to tell because I have so many, it’s not even the piece itself, it’s the story and the reason for the collection or the piece. It’s a personal reference that I’m always reminded of when I wear or see a piece. It’s emotional, not visual.
Who is the ASKYURSELF customer? What do they look like, where do they shop and what music do they listen to?
Honestly, we have all kinds of customers who identify either with the image or with a single part. However, it is mainly people who can identify with the story and the vision and recognize and appreciate the details that make up each product. They love the story behind the product and have an affection for vintage pieces. They are people who pay attention to their appearance and are something outstanding. To be honest, I don’t know what kind of music the customer listens to, but I would guess hip hop, since ASKYURSELF is promoted through my personal preferences such as basketball, (90s) music, football or skateboarding, which is very strongly anchored in hip hop.
What does the evolution of ASKYURSELF look like in 5 years?
Over the last year, the core team has grown and we are planning to extend further in order to provide our loyal customers with additional product ranges, higher quality and better service. In any case, we will continuously reflect and improve in order to offer the customer a unique experience, distinctive pieces and more sustainable options when they shop at ASKYURSELF and make the question easier for them: WHAT should I wear today?