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Welcome to Haystack Stories, a website rooted in nostalgia.
Past. Present. Perfect.

What Brooklyn Designer Ilana Kohn Can't Sleep Without

What Brooklyn Designer Ilana Kohn Can't Sleep Without

We’re both team #baggyclothesforever, and no one embodies that sentiment more than Brooklyn designer Ilana Kohn. In 2011, the onetime illustrator launched a clothing line that combines graphic prints and a serene palette with slouchy-minimalist silhouettes. Our current favorites? Pleated high-waisted trousers, the perfect button-front chore coat and coveralls that remind Jayna of her high school crush who wore a gas station attendant’s uniform to school. 

For our debut haystack story, we're so excited to feature our interview with Ilana. We hope you (snuggle up) and enjoy!

Name: Ilana Kohn
Occupation: Clothing designer
Handle: @ilanakohn
Location: Fort Greene, Brooklyn

What’s the star of your Haystack Story?
Gonna be real here, I have two stuffed animals that I've had and slept with since I was a little little kid. A teddy named Willy Bear and a dog named Shmunty. I still sleep with them every night to this day…I am 35 years old.

Do you still have them?
Sure do!

 BFFAEs, Ilana and Shmunty

BFFAEs, Ilana and Shmunty

Tell us about them. 
They are both incredibly threadbare and ratty but Shmunty is a black dog with floppy ears and is missing most of his stuffing. He used to have a soft pink velvet tongue but all the fuzziness has completely worn off at this point so it's just the rough beige backing fabric now; and Willy Bear is tan with a black plastic nose (it used to have fuzzy stuff on it as well) and eyes, both are so scratched up at this point. They are each the perfect size for snuggling.

Why are they so perfect?
They have so much sentimental value and are so well loved. They are gross and ratty and that is why they are perfect.

How do they make you feel?
All fuzzy inside.

If they could talk what would they say?
They'd both definitely ask me to put them through the wash...it's been awhile. Sometimes I catch my husband stealing one to sleep with so they end up smelling like boy armpit.

When did you get them?
I've had Willy Bear since I was probably 7 or 8? My grandma used to own a toy store and that's where he came from. And Shmunty was my sweet 16 gift from my mom. We always had black dogs growing up hence she got me a big black stuffed dog to snuggle.

 The designer in NYC, circa now / Photo:  Theresa Hong

The designer in NYC, circa now / Photo: Theresa Hong

Who did you have a crush on back then?
Skater kid Paul. But he didn't like tomboys. :(

What did your Friday nights look like?
Probably out skating around the neighborhood, it was definitely like something out of Jackass. 

If someone gave you $20 to spend, what would you have bought?
I would have hustled on over to the thrift store for clothes!

What show did you rush home to watch?
Law & Order

What was your favorite snack?
Fruit Roll Ups

Who were you then, and who are you now?
I was SO shy and self-conscious as a kid. I'm much more outgoing and comfortable in my skin nowadays. Something that's still the same, I still have a big dang mouth. And I still put my foot in it. Working on improving but it is what it is.

Illustration by Marisa Balmori

Welcome to Haystack Stories!

Welcome to Haystack Stories!

NYC Smelled Like This in 1986, According to Writer Amanda Stern

NYC Smelled Like This in 1986, According to Writer Amanda Stern