The Brand

NOT is a womenswear brand designed and produced in New York City inspired by the physical processes of dressing.

Designer Jenny Lai, who grew up playing music, dancing, and acting, equates the adrenaline and improvisation involved in performing with that of getting dressed.

Believing that dressing is another type of "performance", the studio makes garments that are foremost an experience to be worn, a language to be learned, and a story to be told. 


Photo by Adolfo Doring

The Designer

Beyond her studies at Rhode Island School of Design, Jenny Lai strove to experience design from all different angles of the industry. This led her to study traditional artisans’ techniques in a studio in Mexico city, design jewelry for a women’s cooperative in Rwanda, and apprentice in the atelier of Viktor & Rolf in Amsterdam and Boudicca in London. She returned to New York in 2011 to form her own studio.

In addition to ready-to-wear, NOT studio also creates custom performance-wear for musicians and dancers pushing the boundaries of interdisciplinary performance and works as a mobile studio around the world.

The act of "performance" is a motivating force of the brand, inspiring its recent 2014 project in South Africa working with designers and artists involved in original subcultures.


NOT Autumn/Winter 2015

This collection is set in the imagination of old magician shows and modern abstract theatre. The somber severity of magician's uniforms is joined by elegant showmanship and choreography. NOT AW15 is at once simple and understated, yet at the flip of the body, surprising and revealing. Many garments can be worn alternately front and back and adjusted to your liking.

Within a limited color palette, the juxtapositions of restraint and emotion, matte and shine, textural and flat are explored to full effect. Luxurious yet understated cashmere flannels, wool and silk crepes in wine red and charcoal gray.

Photographer: Shirley Yu
Hair/Makeup: Misaki Ishihara
Model: Tiri @ Q


NOT Spring/Summer 2015

This collection chases after a double vision. Constant movement between the inner and outer edges of double-faced garments catch the wind and the wearer by surprise.

Reflective symmetry and graphic simplicity recall child's play: playing cards and the pop surprise of jack-in-the-box. Geometric motifs soft and hard are created by box pleats, triangular drapes, and cutouts.

Photographer: Andrew Boyle
Hair/Makeup: Akihisa Yamaguchi
Model: Alyona G @ Q


NOT Autumn / Winter 2014 

Inspired by the contorted figures of Egon Schiele, natural facial asymmetry, and a vintage photograph of severe scoliosis, this collection brings twisted gestural movement into simple graphic silhouettes. 

Finely pleated indian cottons and wool bouclés meet smooth high tech spacer fabric to create a striking statement.

All shot on 35 mm film.
Photographer: William Denatale
Hair/Makeup: Jennifer Kim
Model: Jessamine @ Boss


NOT Spring / Summer 2014

Inspired by ideas of reproduction, repetition, and regeneration, NOT SS14 'Regeneration' is borne from following a strict set of rules that force a slowing down of the creation process.

The repetitive yet everchanging units of sound characterized by American Minimalist music and the Jewish childhood story of Joseph's homemade blanket, which his grandfather continually transforms until it can only be reused as a button, inspire the collection's desire to continuously regenerate itself using a sensual and minimalist language.

Photographer: Andrew Boyle
Hair/Makeup: Jennifer Kim
Model: Monica @ APM


NOT Autumn / Winter 2013

This collection, titled "Belonging," reinterprets the backpack as an extension of our bodies, with straps encased within our very clothing.

How can we find freedom by carrying our belongings within us? Every privilege is a burden, every king a camel.

Photographer: William Denatale
Hair/Makeup: Jennifer Kim
Model: Lily / Request


NOT Spring / Summer 2013

NOT SS13 'Porous' is a physical expression of the empty spaces we accumulate in our lives. As we lose people, places, and memories, we can be so full of holes that we float.

Certain garments have the effect of making us feel bigger, stronger, and more impermeable than we really are. NOT disintegrates these silhouettes to expose our fragility. Sheer cutouts reveal our knobby knees and the soft flesh behind our legs; Sheer volumes at the shoulder expose our slender frame. These pieces make us feel porous and light.

NOT S/S13 is a meditation on and celebration of the lightness of being.

Photography: Michael Donovan
Hair/Makeup: Alison Smith
Model: Gabriela / RED


NOT Objects

A look at the nonwearable objects that represent NOT: These are one-of-a-kind pieces that emphasize the hand of the designer and create a personal experience for the receiver.


NOT Performances

NOT creates site-specific and custom performance experiences by collaborating with performing artists, integrating performance into presentations, or curating the garments themselves as objects of performance.


NOT around the world

Select NOT collections are sent to photographers around the world who have complete freedom in the concept and subject of the clothes.

This miniseries takes place in Stockton Bight, New South Wales Australia by photographer Lauren Eiko.