AYM (All Your Moments) is a fashion studio aiming to create clothing that is unique, bold and minimal. Creating basic pieces that can be molded into the style of the woman wearing them. The studio was founded by Central Saint Martins' graduate Alie Mackintosh with the aim to create pieces that allow women to feel confident, vivacious and contemporary.
Alie's fashion business has the ability to pick up on what young fashion conscious women around the world want to wear next weekend. From the moment Alie spots a trend on social media, her operation in Lewes has the agility to create a dress within a week - then ship it overnight to New York.
Sales at her fashion brand, AYM, formally Boom Boom The Label, are now £1m. Next year the target is £1.5m and £2m the year after. Ultimately, Mackintosh, who has just turned 27, is looking to open stores in London, New York, Los Angeles and Sydney, giving her customers the chance to feel her stretchy fabrics and try-on her figure-hugging double-layered dresses for themselves. Sales are up 47% compared to last year with over 287K Instagram followers worldwide and growing.
Some of the biggest names in reality TV are already fans. When the Kardashians were opening their Dash store, Kim contacted Mackintosh direct through social media to make an order. ‘It felt a bit bonkers really,’ she recalls. ‘It was three years ago, just after we were getting started. If you are putting out the right content on social media and connecting to your customers, you have no barriers to your growth and to your reach. Even so, it was a real pinch-me moment when the message from Kim arrived, as she has access to so many other labels.’
More recently, Kim wore Mackintosh’s contoured Tana dress on reality TV and the US now accounts for 40% of AYM’s sales. So is Mackintosh starting to feel a gravitational pull away from Lewes? She sees no point in moving. ‘Creatively, we have a great urban vibe here. There is always something happening.’ ‘Because we are only one of a few, we are well placed to compete for creative talent in a way that wouldn’t be possible if we were in London. From here we can recruit from a pool that stretches from Brighton to Hastings.’
Many businesses don’t realise what is available, as well as funding, you can access support from consultants, coaches and mentors.Alie Mackintosh CEO of Amack Group
Currently, she has a team of 14, bringing a full set of fashion skill together under one roof: designers, machinists, publicists, distributors and customer care. ‘Then we can bring in specialists when we need them. From London, graphic designers and marketing agencies, photographers and models, can just hop on a train. It is only a short ride.’
On average, AYM’s dresses are priced at £80 and are designed as fast fashion. ‘It is an ambitious model to run from here,’ she admits. ‘If I was just looking to minimize my costs and maximise my profits, I would do it differently.’
‘For me, fashion is about being sustainable and adding something to our customers' lives. I want them to feel good about themselves. I don’t just want to make masses of cheap dresses. Body confidence is something we really focus on.’
The other advantage of everyone working closely together is that they can learn quickly and innovate fast. Mackintosh is just developing an idea for high viz leggings that will light up and make you stand out when you are in a club. Her production co-ordinator and her pattern cutter are working with her to check out how practical the idea is.
‘It is a process of mind mapping and problem-solving,’ she says, ‘then testing it out. We normally release a product within a week and see how the customers respond. We have a process to put the right skills in place and have a great team who can fix issues on the spot. Everyone is a fashionista here.’
Originally, Mackintosh started off making dresses for herself when she was studying product design at St Martins. After lots of positive comments, she set up her own label, Boom Boom The Label, six months after leaving in 2013. The recent re-brand to 'AYM' marks an exciting stage in the company's strategic plans to grow the agile fashion company to further heights. The bold new brand image under the name of ‘AYM’ has added fuel to the fire for this already fast-growing brand.
Her next priority is launching a second brand, Silho. ‘We found that we had two distinct customer groups. AYM is for trend-led 16-25 year-olds who go out partying every weekend and who are into body contouring.’ ‘Then we had another set of customers who order from us because we are made to order and we are based-in England. We can make dresses to last a lifetime in anyone’s size, whether they are 16 or 60.’ ‘It is slower fashion at a higher price point of £200 to £300. We are only expecting it to make up 10% to 20% of sales initially, although it will even out over time. We might ultimately divide into two teams depending on how the two brands evolve.
Further ahead, Mackintosh would like to start looking at how she can apply artificial intelligence within the business. ‘I’d love to get on board with it. We will have to see how the major players adopt it first and see how it trickles down.’ ‘There is huge room for improvement in terms of sizing and getting it accurate for the customer. Tech has a huge part to play. So, in the same way, as your phone scans your face, maybe you could size up your garments as well.’
The Amack Group brand is based on selling high-quality garments all handmade in England using specialist techniques. The products are designed to have a supportive and figure flattering fit through a unique production technique that sculpts the body with double layered fabric.
With daring designs and statement styles, AYM is not for the fainthearted. It creates clothing for those who want to stand out.
Supporting its growth plans for the AYM brand, Amack Group have invested in securing an agile supply chain system. The company has an in-house design team, production and manufacturing facilities, all based in Lewes. All garments are handmade in their studio and shipped to customers worldwide directly from its distribution warehouse.
An initial start-up loan for £8000 came through Locate East Sussex to buy machinery and set up the infrastructure of the company. She is now applying for a follow-up loan of £15,000 to invest in assets for growth. Through Locate East Sussex, she was also awarded a grant for £10,000 to fit out her studio.
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Image Credits: Caitlin Lock