We met Phillip Lim, who is showing in New York for SS 2012, when he did his first show in Paris for FW 2011. This was the occasion to best discover his world.
Why are you showing your men’s collection for the first time in Paris?
Philipp Lim: Very simple: to catch the market! The irony is that we already showed here as a young American brand during the men’s fashion week in private showroom settings and then waited a month before revealing the collection to the public in New York. This didn’t make any sense anymore because it’s so disconnected. The energy was gone, the market was over, the chances left. So we had to rethink our strategy. In the last moment we decided to bring this show to Paris and luckily the Chambre Syndicale invited us. That was a clear path and we speeded up the collection by a month.
Has Paris any influences on your creativity?
P. L.: We will continue to show in Paris, because it’s the best men’s fashion week. Paris as the city of lights did light me concerning men’s clothes, sportswear and what men could be. I’m always leaving Paris with some kind of inspiration. In this city clothes are sophisticated but you can have fun with it, you don’t have to stick to rules, therefore elegance and humor can marry. This is very liberating for a designer.
How did you start in fashion?
P. L.: I always loved fashion. Since my mother was a seamstress I was always around clothes. First I went to a business school, but after three years I knew that it wasn’t for me. I always gravitated towards fashion and as I wanted to pursue it I got a degree in collage and found my first job as a intern in the new fashion brand of Katayone Adeli. I had absolutely no references, no portfolio whatsoever, but I talked myself in. Already two weeks later I came to Paris for Première Vision to buy textiles! In 2005 we moved to New York to open my own brand 3.1 Philippe Lim. The rest is history.
Your brand was immediately successful. What advice would you give to young designers who would like to launch their own collection?
P.L.: When I met my business partner Wen Zhou we had exactly the same age and a similar love for clothes. My advise to young students coming into the fashion industry is to learn from somebody first, take internships so that you can see your mistakes and understand the pleasure of why you are doing it. Everybody needs help and if you offer and devote yourself people will respond to it.
Did you conceive your actual collection as a mix of sophisticated knitwear and relaxed sportswear?
P.L.: The title of my collection is “weavers”. How do we weave sartorial elegance, how do you bring in artisanal craft and how do you bring forward, combining these elements, creating effects. Even the handwork on the leathers are studied with elements of North African designs, we combined them with jacquards. We took dressmaking techniques of stitch work, flipping it back and forward in order to create an “electric” surface, not static but moving.
Your collection flirts with the style of the Fifties, of the Mods. What man inspires you?
P.L.: I like to thing about an elegant but casual style. I always try to push elegance and youth together. People often think of elegance as a mature thing but I would like to keep it young and fresh. This time I was inspired by many things, by the Mods culture and by the form of the egg - the simple sphere, it’s fragility and madness. We cut the clothes narrow, but parts of it are cut around so you add some round graphic elements. Finally the best inspiration is living your life, being open to everything, to songs, cinema, architecture, nature…
How important is it for your young brand to be supported by celebrities like Natalie Portman or Scarlett Johansson?
P.L.: You can’t deny that this is our pop-culture now but I conceive my collections for the everyday man and woman. They are supporting my clothes by buying it. If you loan clothes to pop-stars and celebrities you get public relation and the pay off is the advertisement but I’m very careful about that because our clothes are not show off, there is no big statement, it’s more settled. So for me it’s more important to live with the clothes and to make clothes I would like to wear.
Your collection is sold in almost 400 shops worldwide. How do you see the future of your brand in the international market?
P.L.: The world is a huge place and we are about to explore it step by step. As a young self-financed company we should take our time.