Devon Yan Captures Personalities In ‘Fashion Forward,’ Custom Designs

Many of his designs are custom made and specifically created for the needs of the person wearing them

By Nat Rubio-Licht

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October 2, 2020

Around nine years ago, Devon Yan applied to be a part of The Bellevue Collection’s first Independent Designer Showcase for fashion week. 

He was rejected. But that didn’t stop him from trying again. 

“At that time, I kind of just used the Independent Designer (Showcase) as kind of my motivation,” Yan said. “I was telling myself: ‘They haven’t picked you, you’re not good enough. So I had to figure out a way to somehow make it better.'”

This year, Yan celebrates a decade of creating designs under his label, Devonation, and his second time appearing in The Bellevue Collection’s showcase. His “fashion forward” designs are one of a kind, ranging from the bright colors of his Wild Garden collection to the intricate and elegant patterns of his Super Natural looks. Many of his designs are custom made and specifically created for the needs of the person wearing them.

“I’m really into pulling out people’s personality,” Yan says. 

Yan’s first step into the world of fashion was in 2009 when he launched his first collection at Portland Fashion Week, filled with black and white, high-contrast looks. Yan then started Devonation, and he and his husband moved to Seattle a year later.  

After not being chosen to be a part of the Independent Designer Showcase the first time, Yan buckled down. He spent years creating new designs and “improving my vision,” he says. In 2016, he was selected for the showcase and won the Independent Designer Runway Show.

Yan considers his biggest accomplishment to be his confidence. Though Yan’s father was an opera singer in Southern China, his parents were not supportive of him wanting to pursue the arts as a career. Yan studied public administration in college, but spent his free time learning about design and honing his art skills. It took him a long time to believe in himself as an artist, he says. 

“I try to tell people who want to be designers … just keep that in mind it’s not going to be easy, but the reality, nothing is easy,” Yan says. “You just need to believe in your passion. You just need to believe in yourself.”

The pandemic has shut down most of Yan’s work. Demand dropped for his custom made designs due to restrictions on in-person events. However, He’s been focusing his work on creating accessories rather than custom made garments. 

Yan doesn’t like to talk about the future. He prefers to take things one design at a time, always making sure he’s improving from before. However, he hopes to stay current and consistently release collections through Devonation.

“As an independent designer, completing collections is not easy,” he says. “If you’re able to see Devonation constantly having new collections, that means people are still liking it.” 

Are you an artist, musician or designer based in Seattle? We want to hear your story. Reach out to [email protected] to tell us about yourself.

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