Photos by Stefan Radtke
Fashion designer Andrew Yu reflects on his path to success and his new roots in the Westchester County community.
Fabulously Yu isn’t simply the name of fashion designer Andrew Yu’s blog; it also describes an aesthetic that extends beyond the clothing he creates and into the fabric of the Westchester community he calls home.
When Andrew Yu was 12 years old, his mom gave up trying to buy clothes for him, says the designer, who made the move to Katonah in the summer of 2020. It’s hard to imagine anyone trying to dress or otherwise rein in Yu’s creative gifts. A self-professed lover of all kinds of artistic expression, he sees the world as his canvas, and it shows in everything he does.
Whether it’s photographing a famous neighbor’s son modeling his gorgeous designs, renovating his Westchester residence to exude a classic yet comfortable elegance, or hosting a banquet for a prince from India, the exquisiteness of Yu’s talent extends well beyond his luxurious cashmere creations.
As a young boy growing up in Taiwan, Yu recalls two of the biggest influences on his creativity. “My father had a successful life and career, so from a very young age, our family traveled around the world, and I experienced many different foods and cultures,” he says. And when they were home, there was a constant influx of visitors from all walks of life.
His exposure to such a variety of people, places, and lifestyles served to reinforce an artistic passion that would take Yu on a professional journey far removed from his parents’ expectations. When he was 19, his family moved to Richmond, VA, where Yu enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University to study fashion, a somewhat unorthodox career choice given his traditional Asian upbringing. Even more controversial was his decision to leave college altogether when an internship for famed designer George Simonton led to a job offer in New York City. The choice was an easy one for Yu, even if it meant he’d be the first in many generations of his family not to graduate from college.
At 22, he started his own women’s-wear collection and never looked back. The same little boy who boldly stood up for his fashion choices at age 12 found himself at his very first COTERIE trade show, commenting to the buyer from Barney’s, “Oh, that’s so little,” when he placed an order for 300 pieces. The fearless young designer had no idea it was an extraordinary vote of confidence in his debut line from the prestigious department store.
In addition to Barney’s, his clothes were soon being sold throughout the U.S., on the floors of major specialty department stores, like Saks, Bloomingdale’s, and many others.
Now, with three decades of success behind him and a thriving $50 million fashion business, Yu has discovered a different kind of inspiration and a renewed sense of purpose. After spending most of his adult life living in New York City and the Hamptons, the prospect of raising his young twin sons in the changing climate of Manhattan, coupled with the onset of the pandemic, led Yu and his partner, Dr. Evan Goldstein, to take a “leap of faith” by moving to the Bedford hamlet of Katonah.
By his own admission, Yu had never spent any time north of Manhattan, and though he was welcomed warmly, what surprised him most was the lack of diversity. “I’m not just talking about the people, but things like the cuisine, the culture. I feel like my job is trying to break down the barriers, racially, economically, and culturally.,” he says.
With his self-described “modern, gay, Asian” family somewhat outside the norm, he is excited by the opportunity to highlight different lifestyles and different cultures in a way that continues to strengthen the fabric of his adopted community.
Yu enthusiastically and graciously welcomes guests into his home, which is as warm and inviting as the designer himself. He believes in the positive impact derived from bringing those with different personalities and backgrounds together and understands the importance that being a visible and supportive member of his community has to his mission.
When The Outpost, a farmer-owned-and-supplied restaurant and store in Bedford, was having trouble meeting its rent during the early days of the pandemic, Yu hosted a pop-up dumpling event, with all proceeds going directly to the business. Yu even helped prepare the dumplings in addition to making sure every aspect of the day was meticulously curated to provide not only a culinary treat but a cultural experience as well. Like many things he touches, it was a work of art.
Yu enthusiastically and graciously welcomes guests into his home, which is as warm and inviting as the designer himself.
More recently, the lush and expansive green space offered by his new home presented another opportunity to give back. Yu planted and tended an enormous vegetable garden, whose abundant yield was donated to the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry.
It is not lost on him that his actions speak loudly, especially to the two children he is raising. So, while Yu continues to create beautiful, sustainable, “wearable” art (friend and neighbor Martha Stewart boasts 20 pieces from his most recent private collection), as a parent he is equally passionate about finding meaningful ways to give back to his community while fostering the celebration of diversity in all its forms.
You can see Yu’s current private collection — aptly named The Bedford because it was inspired by the town’s natural beauty — at 49andrewyu.com. His first menswear collection, Shmear, will be available this fall, and if you’d like to follow along on his many fabulous adventures, check out @49andrewyu on Instagram.