Katya Urban reminds us to be present with her fashion brand

Image of Katya Urban with a blue guitar in front of a microphone.
Multitalented creative force Urban also experiments with music, art, and filmmaking in addition to her fashion brand. She recently performed at KXSC this past Friday. (Photo courtesy of Katya Urban)

Creation is often seen as a godly power. It is an action that allows someone to manifest an immaterial idea into a physical form that can be felt, heard or seen by others. New York-born Katya Pearl Urban is the founder of Angel Boy World, a fashion brand that sells jewelry and upcycled clothes with designs by Urban. If creation is a godly power, then how fitting is it that her brand be named after a heavenly creature.

Urban, a junior majoring in film production, came up with the idea for Angel Boy World during quarantine last year. During isolation, she would occupy herself by sketching characters. One day, she drew the character that would eventually become “Angel Boy,” and it stirred a sense of importance in her. 

“Angel Boy just felt like he was meant to be more than this sketch, and I just started to develop this world,” Urban said. “It just felt like it made sense because it’s transportable art, and it’s a way to reach out to people.” 

Angel Boy World began with a few T-shirts decorated with dark line drawings that appeared to represent a sort of melancholic sensibility. One T-shirt read, “i don’t feel like a king.” It is through these pensive yet simple comments Katya alludes to deeper themes such as the exploration of masculinity and the abandonment of the youthful spirit as one grows older. It is these things that Katya attempts to capture and redefine with Angel Boy World. 

“When I was a kid, I was so scared of growing up, but now, I’m 20. I am growing up and feel less scared,” Urban said. “I think I’m realizing that, just because I’m growing up, doesn’t mean I need to let go of my inner child, and it’s still always a part of you as long as you don’t forget about it.”

The idea behind preserving her inner child revolves around the way in which kids can be “present” in a way that’s difficult as you grow up. Along with this philosophy, Urban makes it a point to take risks and to never remain stagnant. 

“I think I’m trying to play it less safe and not limiting to what I think is wearable,” Urban said about future pieces in Angel Boy World. “In general, my goal is to take more risks because playing it safe is boring.” 

Over time, Angel Boy World developed into different pieces, such as tank top shirts, face masks, jeans and skirts. Urban has always been creative and willing to explore new ideas in order to improve her art. With Angel Boy World, she’s planned several events, one of the most notable being an art gallery she put together in Brooklyn with friends who participate in a variety of art forms and mediums. 

Dhante Bunbury, a friend of Urban since middle school, has seen Urban grow into herself as the years passed by. Bunbury witnessed Urban’s artistry develop and change as she has matured. He describes her as “textured” and always thinking of her artistry. 

“Like nine times out of ten she has a camera or her camcorder on her,” Bunbury said. “So you know whether it’s video, photo or film … She always has that on her, so she can always use you as a subject for a shot she’s thinking of or just a reference or something. But, it’s always gonna be a maze that you’re not even gonna want to get out of [with her].”

Urban’s work is specific and targeted, centering on ideas she finds salient and important. Bunbury describes her eye for detail and the curiosity that define her personality. 

“It’s not a broad thing for Katya ever,” Bunbury said. “It’s never broad because that’s something that can be done so simply and fast. It’s always why, how, who, when.”

Urban’s drive and dedication is something she extends to her friendships as well according to Bunbury. 

“She helps me become a somewhat true version of myself,” Bunbury said. “She always helps me push my boundaries.”

Urban is more than just a fashion designer. In the same way that Angel Boy World is a multifaceted brand, Urban is a multifaceted creator as seen with her passion for filmmaking and music. 

“I think we live in a time where people can do multiple things and it can be uplifted,” Urban said. “[But], I think there’s a fine line between being a jack of all trades and a master of none. And I’m trying to be patient because I want to feel strongly that I know what I’m doing, and I know what my connection is to each art form that I feel connected with.”

The variety of Urban’s passions is evident in all of her endeavours. She’s found ways to integrate all the mediums that she participates in, from writing songs for films she has made, to making and editing videos for her fashion brand, to wearing her own pieces during her performances. 

To both Bunbury and another friend of Urban’s, Rahul Manwani, she is known to make people feel comfortable. Her energy and personality exude a curiosity that makes all those who meet her immediately let their guard down. 

“Hanging out with [Urban] is like being comfortable,” said Manwani, a junior majoring in animation. “She makes people comfortable very quickly and [is] naturally very kind and understanding and always curious — wanting to listen to what people say.”

Manwani shared an anecdote about Katya’s love of other people, describing a time when she played basketball with a 60-year-old man and expressed her love for interacting with all kinds of people and learning about their lives. 

“Katya’s a sharer, like she could meet someone and talk about something personal within a matter of minutes,” Manwani said. “There’s just an empathy and vulnerability that comes with how comfortable she makes you and people will be spilling their guts to her in like the first or second meeting.”