This King of Prussia Dermatologist-Turned-Designer is Leading the Fashion Wellness Movement
Dr. Erum Ilyas’ AmberNoon, which opened in Wayne this spring, provides cutting-edge UVA and UVB protection.
Dr. Erum Ilyas of AmberNoon. Photo courtesy of AmberNoon.
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Erum Ilyas tilts her head to the left, eyeing a woman up and down. The doctor has done thousands of body scans at Montgomery Dermatology, her King of Prussia practice. But today, she’s at AmberNoon, the Wayne boutique that showcases her latest venture. “A different color,” says Ilyas, “maybe the navy.”
AmberNoon opened this past April, 20 months after Ilyas launched a line of casual dresses, pants, tops, jackets and hats online. A few of the tops—like Sajda, an asymmetrical zippered wrap—are so popular that Ilyas can’t keep them in stock. And while brick-and-mortar operations continue to crumble in favor of the web, Ilyas is headed in the opposite direction. She believes that AmberNoon needs another showcase to build on its digital success. And besides, she needs the space. “As we were selling out of things, then reordering and redesigning, my home and office got overrun,” says Ilyas. “It’s a good problem to have.”
Ilyas and her husband, an orthopedic surgeon, live in Wayne with their three children. Her line is named after her only daughter, Amber. Its popularity is due in large part to its built-in sun protection. Garments are constructed of textiles woven tightly enough to block UVA/UVB rays. “It’s all about how tightly the mills can pull the weave,” Ilyas says.
The fabrics are soft and durable—and not chemically treated with UVA/UVB repellent. “I didn’t want to add chemicals to anyone’s life,” Ilyas says.
If folks were more diligent about sunscreen usage, skin cancer rates wouldn’t be on the rise. It’s the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. A single sunburn isn’t great, but it’s the cumulative effects of daily exposure that causes cancer, says Ilyas, who recommends that sunscreen be applied to the entire body every morning and reapplied during the day—especially to the face.
AmberNoon’s garments are at the forefront of a wellness fashion movement built on products that are good for the planet and the people who wear them. Other leaders include Bar Jewelery, Hiut Denim Co. and Veja sneakers—and that’s just a few hot new brands from the Duchess of Sussex’s wardrobe.
Dr. Taryn Rose is one of the pioneers of wellness fashion. The Beverly Hills, Calif.-based orthopedic surgeon created her eponymous line of luxury footwear to be both fashionable and healthy. Even her pumps have contoured arch support, shock absorption and specially cushioned insoles.
To create AmberNoon Ilyas worked with Dana Fried, the marketing guru behind Taryn Rose. “Dana said it’s tricky because doctor-created products can come off as medicinal,” Ilyas says. “His advice was to make something that people want to have because it is super-stylish and good for you.”
That’s not exactly true of perhaps the best-known example of wellness fashion: rash guards are essentially swim shirts made of spandex, nylon and polyester—and they aren’t particularly stylish or flattering. Ilyas steered clear of rashes and swimwear entirely. “I wanted a full, comprehensive product line composed of protective wear for everyday use,” she says.
Nonetheless, the wellness aspect has been critical to AmberNoon’s success. “We launched the brand talking about style,” Ilyas says. “But people gravitated to the science, and that’s when sales bumped.”
AmberNoon is having so much success that Ilyas was asked to partner with Macy’s department store. A portion of the AmberNoon line will be part of the Market at Macy’s in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Atlanta. For these summer pop-ups, Ilyas redesigned several of AmberNoon’s popular pieces, creating them in new colors available exclusively at Macy’s.
Ilyas has a longtime love of clothes and color. While AmberNoon’s garments are available in solids, Ilyas—who is of Indian descent—designed prints in palates that appeal to women of every skin tone. Coral and taupe are the colors in her signature print. “I have to be able to wear my own clothes,” she says with a laugh.