Art Imitating LYFE: Artist Ashley Nicole Fox Talks Her Brand, DYE LYFE

Sunday, 10 July 2011 15:31 Written by  Frances Moffett

Fashion has always been considered an outlet through which creative expression reigns. If you study deep enough, you’ll see that the design and look of a piece is the personification of what the creator was feeling at that particular time. This art of creating is what led model and artist Ashley Nicole Fox to found her DYE LYFE Artistic Apparel clothing line.

The bold, innovative, no-holds-barred brand, probably best known for its slashed and shredded leggings and t-shirts, has grown substantially since its July 2009 creation, pushing the envelope every step of the way. With fashion show themes like the burlesque “Dirty after Dark” and sayings like “Say No to Thugs” and “Stuck Up” scrawled across a sliced and diced t-shirt, it’s easy to see that Ashley isn’t afraid to push it to the limit.

“Art inspires me,” she says. “I’ve always been different with my clothing style. I love the intricate designs, paints and dyes and stuff like that.”

Ashley, who hails from the Chicagoland area, says that she had always enjoyed dressing stylishly and accessorizing her own clothes, but hadn’t really focused on starting her own clothing brand until after she met an entrepreneur at a networking event. The woman complimented her on her uniquely dyed leggings (which Ashley made herself) and encouraged Ashley to pursue starting her own business. She said that after thinking about it long and hard, she decided to do it.

Although Ashley doesn’t have formal training in fashion design and says she never really determined that it would be her career, it’s apparent that she’s perfected a craft that could make her sustain in this industry. Her in-your-face handmade, hand-cut and hand-dyed leggings, tops, t-shirts and shorts put her in a category all its own.

“I live for the moment,” she says. “I don’t really have a process [when I’m designing a piece.] I just put the clothing article in front of me and pretty much just go to work. It just kind of comes to me.”

She elaborates, “Everything comes out of my beautiful mind. If you can think of it, it can be done. And if you thought of it, it probably should be done. Either way, it’s going to be done—whether you do it or somebody else does.”

In an industry that tends to be saturated with people following trends and “what’s hot,” Ashley says that because her work is inborn in art, she doesn’t worry about differentiating herself—it comes naturally.

“Not just in fashion, but in society in general, we tend to go with what we know, so I think it’s safe for other designers to mimic or create from prior designs or designs that have already been released. I think that it’s common; I don’t see anything wrong with it at all,” she says. “But with DYE LYFE, I think my perspective is different. It doesn’t stem from fashion—it stems from art. I look at it differently probably from what a typical fashion designer would. But I don’t call myself a fashion designer. I see myself as an artist. I don’t think I fit in that category.”

Regardless of her title, Ashley is making strides with her DYE LYFE movement. She is the sole designer but has a close team of people who help her with marketing and promotions, merchandising, street team work, etc. She also has a crew of models who show off her unique designs.

Ashley describes herself as “complex” and a “go-getter.” She also says that DYE LYFE now has a presence in Atlanta, in addition to her online store at And while her success is expanding, she says the only thing she wants to accomplish is happiness.

“I don’t ask for much,” she laughs. “I just want to be happy for the rest of my life. I know that it’s not always consistent, but as consistent as it can get, that’s what I ask for.”

Learn more about DYE LYFE at Follow DYE LYFE on Twitter @DYELYFE.

Frances Moffett

Frances Moffett

GMO Editor-At-Large Frances Moffett is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. She has worked with GMO since its inception. With a love for journalism and all things writing, she is currently pursuing her master’s degree in public relations and advertising from DePaul University. Frances is also an editor at the country’s largest association management company and has written for a variety of publications, including Jet magazine, The Chicago Defender and The Chicago Reporter.

Frances can be contacted at

Follow her on Twitter: @FrancesMMM