How Adam Selman is Making Fashion Fun Again

The American designer talks about styling celebrities and his new athletic wear collection, cheekily titled A.S.S.
Reading time 4 minutes

Illustration by Spiros Halaris

Adam Selman is fashion’s coolest chameleon. Over the past decade, the New York-based talent has gone from creating tour looks for Britney Spears and Michael Jackson to co-designing a line with Rihanna to launching his own beloved brand at New York Fashion Week. Now, he enters his next phase with Adam Selman Sport, or A.S.S., a vibrant sportswear range that’s just as sassy as its acronym would suggest. Inclusive, eco-conscious, and occasionally drenched in crystals, Selman’s new chapter has his fans screaming YA.S.S.!

Of course, the acronym for Adam Selman’s latest project, Adam Selman Sport, is A.S.S. What else would one expect from the man responsible for Rihanna’s infamous see-through 2014 CFDA Awards gown? The name is right on par with the cheeky sense of fun that the New York-based designer has injected into his work since debuting his youthful, kitsch-tinged ready-to-wear line six years ago (plus, since so much of the collection is geared toward the gym, it just makes sense).  



A.S.S., which dropped in January on Net-a-Porter, marks a shift for Selman. Now, instead of dressing fans like Gigi Hadid, Dakota Fanning, and Billie Lourd in sheer, floral-embroidered jeans and ostrich-trimmed minidresses, he’s providing his cool-kid fan base with exuberant sportswear that is equally suited for yoga class and the red carpet.

“I think it was more of a personal revelation,” says Selman of the pivot. “After starting my line, I really sacrificed a lot of myself in order to make it happen. I felt like I needed a change, a new challenge, and with the current state of fashion, I wanted to be ahead of the tide rather than trying to catch up with it,” he continues, referencing the fashion cycle’s frenetic pace. “I loved what I was doing with Adam Selman and it was going really well, but I wanted to…keep it all exciting and inspiring. At the end of the day, if I am bored by the process, my customers will feel that as well.”

Fair enough—though nothing about Selman’s career has been boring. After getting his start creating tour costumes for mega-stars like Britney Spears and Michael Jackson, Selman, now 36, first stepped into the public eye back in 2013 when he co-designed Rihanna’s much-hyped line for UK retailer River Island. Not long after, he introduced his eponymous range at New York Fashion Week, focusing on energetic clothes with a retro twist. His first collection, for Spring 2014, set the tone with slinky slips, bodysuits, and boudoir-ready looks that blurred the line between what you might wear in the streets or between the sheets. An ongoing (and oft-copied) collaboration with sunglasses brand Le Specs followed, as did a nomination for the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. (He was the competition’s runner-up in 2016.)   



At once nostalgic and on-the-pulse, Selman has, in the past, sourced inspiration from the films of John Waters, ’40s porn, ’80s photographer Cheyco Leidmann, and vintage Cosmopolitan covers, the elements of which he’s mixed into joyful, pin-up worthy wares. And while his influences are at times eccentric, his brand has always been rooted in wearable American classics. With that in mind (and considering fashion’s ongoing gym wear obsession), his brand’s evolution seems a natural next step. “I love American sportswear from several different eras, so I infused my favorites and just went for it,” says Selman of his first A.S.S. effort.  

The inaugural Spring 2019 lineup offers something for everyone, including leopard-print crop tops and French-cut leggings; crystal-embellished bralettes and booty shorts; neon, ribbed knits; and colorblock sweatpants. There are sporty little slip dresses to toss on after a hard workout (or for a night on the town) and the lime green pleated skirt will serve peak style on the tennis court or the sidewalks of SoHo. The collection is inclusive, too, with a series of unisex pieces and sizes that range from XXS to XXL. The cherry on top? A.S.S., prices for which start at $75 and cap out at $200, is eco-conscious—the custom packaging is biodegradable and its core pieces are made from recycled nylon and polyester. Sassy, sustainable, and accessible? You can bet Selman fans are going to be running to tap that A.S.S.


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