RYUN HARRISON ON FASHION AS REVOLUTION, ZOE KRAVITZ, AND HIS QUEER ORACLE DECK
There are some people that just radiate. You know what I’m talking about; no matter how hard you try, you can’t stop stalking their Instagram feeds or thinking about how magical their life is. Maybe it’s their freedom or spirit, maybe it’s their aura, maybe it’s that they just know how to dress… but whatever it is, you can’t deny it. And designer and artist Ryun Harrison definitely has it. The Atlanta native uses fashion as a way to reject societal norms, embracing gender bending aesthetics as artistic expression and expression of self.
An Associate Designer at Urban Outfitters, Ryun has made a career defining what “cool” is, helping us discover our new favorite pieces, and now our new favorite oracle deck. His latest project “The Abyss Oracle” centers around queerness and sexuality, with a heavy dose of glamour, of course. Ryun’s style fluctuates between the chill denim of his day job and the kinky punch of his oracle deck, a vibe we can get behind.
FASHION IS DYING talked to Ryun about Zoe Kravitz, his inspiration, The Abyss Oracle, his muses and more. Read on for all the juicy details.
RYUN HARRISON ON BEING A FASHION CHAMELEON
FASHION IS DYING: How did you get into fashion? Have you always been artistic?
RYUN HARRISON: Fashion has been a big part of my life, indirectly, for what seems like forever. Being one of a few POC in my community, clothes were always used as a way for me to "fit in". I can remember my mom dressing me in Ralph Lauren Polo's and trousers in elementary school to help even the playing field so to speak with the other kids. As I grew older I rebelled against the idea of assimilating, and started dressing myself. For me, it was a way to express to the world who I was as an individual instead of a cog in the machine. From there, my love for fashion grew and grew, but I didn't fall into fashion design until my Freshman year of college. During the first year each student had to take an intro course in one of the other majors. At the moment, I really resonated with being a fashion photographer. I blame the copious amounts of Nylon and Vogue magazines I read in my spare time in high school. So naturally when it came time to decide what intro class to take, I chose fashion design. That choice changed the course of my life to be honest. I fell in love with the intro course in fashion design, and changed my major.
Artistically, I come from a pretty creative family. From musicians to florists there was always some sort of connection to the arts and crafts. My mom especially has been the most supportive when it's come to my love of art. She's always been on the side lines cheering me on the loudest! Growing up, she also was a big creative example. She worked for AT&T for the majority of my childhood, but always had a creative hustle or hobby on the side. She's also a Leo, so I lucked out on having the best creative cheerleader on my side. She's the reason I am who I am. Can you tell I'm a Cancer Sun from that answer? Haha.
FID: You've been designing for Urban Outfitters for at least a few years now! How did that journey start, and what is the job like?
RH: That's right! I've been at Urban for 4, almost 5 years now, and it's definitely been a journey. I got my start there as a design intern the summer going into senior year of college and was hooked immediately. When I graduated, they didn't have open Assistant Designer positions, but brought me on as a Design Coordinator. From there, I worked my way up to now being an Associate Designer for the brand. The great thing that sets apart Urban are the people that work there. I'm surrounded by such inspiring and creatively innovative people, and getting to interact with them on the daily is amazing. There isn't really a set way my day usually goes, as the team is usually joggling a few seasons at a time. The pay off from working so hard is that I get to be apart of someone's life in the best way possible; being apart of finding who they are. Clothing has been a big part of my self discovery, so I feel grateful to do the same for others.
FID: How would you describe your design aesthetic? Personal aesthetic?
RH:When designing for work I gravitate towards either the super "boy" things like skater jeans and long t-shirts, or the more girl out on the town for no one but herself type vibe. My personal aesthetic is heavily based in great basics, fun kitschy pops, and a dash of cheekiness. Lately I've been really into wearing late 80's early 90's hand painted sweatshirts and a great pair of vintage LEVI Jeans during the week. Though most would tell you I love a good crop top and cut off shorts combo when summer hits. Depending on where I'm off too for a night out, I may reach for a mesh tshirt and harness or something a little more tame. I'm a style chameleon for sure, so there's a common thread in my style, but it changes depending on the day.
FID: Who's your dream muse to dress?
RH: OMG!!! ZOE KRAVITZ!! Hands down, she's not only a dream muse, but one of my favorite style icons! She does gender queer style so well it's crazy!!
FID: How do you find inspiration? Do you have any favorite designers, or photographers or artists?
RH: Inspiration usually comes to me differently every time. It could be a chance encounter with someone in the street, a line from song, or just the environment around me. When it comes to favorite creatives the list goes on and on! hahah Let me think though, a few of my favorites (in no particular order):
FID: What do you wish you could tell your younger self about this journey?
RH: This is just the beginning, and everything you've experienced will teach you skills you'll need to walk your truth in the future. Learn to say no to the things that no longer serve you, and be okay with doors closing to make room for others to open.
FID: I LOVE your queer oracle deck The Abyss Oracle. Can you tell me about this? How does it intersect with your style, if at all?
RH: Awe thanks! The Abyss Oracle started this summer when I was looking for something to quench my creative bug on the weekends by collaging. The deck was a way for me to delve into what it meant for me to be queer. There seemed a void of spiritual queer representation that resonated with me, so I wondered, why not create something that I could connect too. Whether you identify as queer or not, I want the deck to be a tool for personal introspection. The deck will reference many queer icons and imagery with both traditional and digital collage techniques. Once it feels finished I'm planning on self publishing it, and going from there. I'm open to what the universe has in store for it. It's not for the prude of heart, as some of the images will explore sexuality, nudity, and elements of the queer community that some might feel uneasy about. Then again, the deck isn't for those few! ;)
FID: Is fashion dying?
RH: No, I think fashion is shedding it's old skin to make room for something greater. As long as humans use clothing to express themselves, there will always be a place for fashion. It's an integral part of who we are as individuals. I can't wait to see what's on the other side of this. It's gonna be epic, I can feel it!!!
FID: What's next?
RH: Hmmm... not quite sure. Definitely more collabs with other creatives, and being open for what the Universe has in store in the new year to come.