What does a designer look for in a brand?

We met up with fashion influencer and designer John Lee and tapped into his mentality behind clothing, shopping, and quality.

On the list of most appealing fashion Instagram accounts is our friend John Lee reigning from Seattle, Washington. Apart from making his outfits stand out on a daily basis, he is a designer in the graphic and fashion industries which reflects on his style. Many of us are simply consumers who typically see clothes for the first time on a website or social media. John is unlike those as his background is immersed in the world of being a designer.

With so many different fabrics, cuts, and designs available what makes a product better than the other? Everybody has their different opinion but what are some qualities that John looks for in his purchases. I had a chance to speak with John and after we spoke, I see shopping, quality, and buying through a new lens.

Introduce yourself…

My name is John J. Lee and I’m 27 years old. I was born and raised in Seattle and have lived on the west coast all my life. I’m currently a Senior Designer, specializing in both visual & UX design. I have experience in everything from fashion styling, apparel graphics, print and web design, as well as interactive and mobile app design. My experience and clients are as diverse as my personal sense of style.


So as a designer and stylist… What do you look for in a new brand?

The main things I look for are: quality, fit and craftsmanship. These attributes are crucial, especially for a new brand starting out. There’s so much emerging talent, that you need to make sure your garments are up to par and stand out. Consumers today are smarter and more strategic with their purchases, so it’s important to give them a reason to buy.


Above John styles his Sand SS shirt as a base layer below his Crepe French Terry Long Sleeve Raglan shirt and All Saints washed denim jacket. The white contrast from his Saint Laurent denim compliments the neutral color scheme of this outfits. Lastly, can anyone disagree with his kicks of choice? The greyish tone of the Adidas Originals Yeezy “Moon Rock” sit well below the white denim.

With smarter consumers making strategic purchases, how important is a garment’s “feel” or “touch”?

A garment’s feel or touch is very important to me. I’m a very tactile person and many times the way a garment feels may impact whether I cop or not. It’s imperative to know what your clothes are made of, more so than where they’re made from. The quality of fabric, or lack thereof, will ultimately determine the lifespan. The higher quality the fabric, the longer it will last. Not to mention, being more comfortable and pleasing on the skin.

You’ve said it a few times and with your background have seen different fabrics and cuts. Define high quality in your standards.

For me, high quality means longevity, luxury, and character. A garment is of high quality, when it’s beautifully designed and thoughtfully executed, from superior fabrics and craftsmanship. The ultimate high quality to me would be haute couture. Because these artisans spend months if not years focusing on every nook and cranny of a specific design to ensure the creative vision is fulfilled; often times by hand, using the most luxurious materials. That in itself is art.


What are some of the deciding factors behind your purchases?

I’m actually quite frugal, believe it or not. I try to limit impulse buys and instead make a conscious effort to be more tactful when making new purchases. I take into account items I already have in my wardrobe and try to expand upon that. My goal is to have more diversity and variety. So when there’s something I want, I have to ask myself: is this a want or a need? Fabric and price are also two important factors I take into account. Also, I usually do some research online to see if there’s a place I can get it for less before copping immediately unless it’s something I really want and am certain it won’t go on sale. Generally, I prefer online shopping because there’s normally free shipping and sometimes promo codes you can apply for discounts. Who doesn’t love a deal?

Have you seen any new emerging trends?

A prevalent trend I’ve noticed is more minimalistic sportswear. There’s a resurgence of ease in clothes – simple silhouettes, muted color palettes, and more relaxed fits, especially in outerwear and pants. This spring / summer you’ll see lots of grey, baggy pants, and anorak jackets.

Another emerging trend is the use of chinoiserie in ready to wear. Basically, patterns and prints influenced by Asian elements such as dragons, animals, and flowers. You’ll see a lot of this, particularly for spring / summer, in the form of silk baseball and bomber jackets, robes, and pajama trousers. Labels such as Off-White, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton will have an array of pieces adorned with various motifs.


Here John shows us casual layering as he used a Fear of God extended tank top under his Grey Hacchi Knit Raw Edge sweater. He combines the look with an Alpha Industries’ burgundy bomber jacket which offsets the neutrality of the tops, bottom, and boots in a strong way.

What are some of your favorite colors to style with?

I appreciate color, but for the most part, I love neutrals – black, white, grey, olive and navy. Lately, I’ve been loving lighter colors such as white, cream and tan. My current favorite color palettes to style with are either total monochromatic fits, using tones of the same neutral color, or all neutral with a pop of color, such as a hue of red. I try to inject color into my wardrobe thoughtfully and incorporate appropriately in doses, often times to serve as the focal element. For example, I’d rock a b&w fit and then throw on a burgundy bomber to add an extra layer of dimension.

What are some of the DO’s and DONT’s with today’s styles?

Do invest in timeless classic pieces, which you can have and rock for years.

Don’t splurge on super trendy pieces because they’re “lit” right now.

Do your research online to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Don’t cop something simply because it’s a trend, make sure it fits you and your body type.

Do experiment and step out of your comfort zone. Fashion is meant to be fun!

Don’t bite someone else’s’ style, especially a celebrity.

Be yourself not a hypebeast.

To get some of the olive, navy, black, white, and grey tones, you can head over to our online shop. Dressing up isn’t always about having the hottest items out or the most desired sneakers. It’s about finding colors that work with you and matching them with the taste of modern style. To stay posted on the latest outfits and styling make sure you follow John Lee on Instagram via @JohnJungLee and ENTITY at @ENTITYLIFE.