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When her dream hit a wall, York fashion designer found a new way forward

When her dream hit a wall, York fashion designer found a new way forward

  • Armino means warrior. That word embodies luxury streetwear fashion designer Aliyah Jones’ mindset toward struggles and adversity.
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Snip by snip, young Aliyah Jones would transform her father’s shirts into fashion creations, much to the chagrin of her adoring dad.

Little did she know that by her early 20s, she would launch a York-based luxury streetwear brand: ARMINO WU.

“When I was a young girl, I was always into fashion,” Aliyah says.

Warrior with a dream

It was a family affair. Her mom took her to her first fashion show at age 10. Everyone in the family loved shopping, putting together coordinating outfits, and watching fashion and modeling shows on television. Aliyah would spend her free time painting and drawing fashion figures.

By her middle school years, she knew she wanted to attend fashion school. She set her mind to doing well in high school so that she could get into the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York City, the alma mater of such fashion icons as Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, and Alexander Wang.

As part of the application process, Aliyah had to create a fashion brand and a portfolio. She was intrigued by the word armino, which means warrior in the Teutonic or German translation. It embodied how she felt about herself. Her first six-piece collection under her ARMINO WU brand earned her acceptance to the school along with a partial scholarship.

A season of setback

After graduating from West York Area High School, Aliyah eagerly planned her future in fashion. Then the realities of attending fashion school in Manhattan began to set it. Even with her scholarship, the cost was simply out of reach.

Aliyah already had connected on social media with students from around the country who she thought would be her Parsons classmates. But she found herself at home, sinking into a deep depression while watching her newfound friends living her dream life.

“Over time I would see all my classmates I was supposed to be with prospering and going to New York Fashion Week and shooting (photos) with New York celebrities,” she says. “I’d ask myself, what could it have been?”

All the while her sewing machine sat untouched.

“I just stopped,” she says. “I let everything go.”

Finding a new path

It took several years for Aliyah to shake off her blues and start pursuing her dream again. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she pulled out her old ARMINO WU ideas and began working on a luxury-focused rebranding and relaunch.

“A lot of people have been excited about the transition,” says Aliyah. “I just really had to get out of my funk.”

In 2022, Aliyah was ready to start taking her fashion brand to the next level. She became an Artist in Residence at the Grotto Community Center in downtown York and set up a working studio.

She began pushing out her bag collection and designing a spring and summer collection of shoes and clothes. She also is working on the design of a bottle for a perfume collection that she plans to release next year.

Aliyah was surprised to find a supportive fashion-minded community in York. While the industry isn’t as prominent here as in New York City or Los Angeles, Aliyah has experienced an art-centric spirit in which fashion is making a mark.

“I’ve learned a lot of patience through this journey,” she says. “At the end of the day, I’ve got to be my biggest supporter. My story is a book in progress.”