Today we’re continuing our Designer Spotlight series with a look at Phillip Lim‘s rise to fashion stardom. As one of the brightest young American designers in the game, Lim’s story is inspirational and aspirational.
Before the 3.1
“Growing up with a traditional Chinese background, there were three options for me: be a physician, be a lawyer, or a businessperson.” – Phillip Lim
In the beginning, Lim decided to study business. But after his third year at California State University at Long Beach, he realized that it wasn’t for him. He immediately joined his college’s Home Economics classes. There, sewing and draping, he found an ease and curiosity that would change the course of his life.
Following his new passion for clothing, Lim began working at Barneys New York. He then scored a job with Kayatone Adeli, a brand whose clothes he was unpacking at Barneys. He worked as an intern for the first two weeks – making copies and getting coffee – and was then offered a full time job. He became a design assistant for the brand.
In 2000, Lim and a couple of friends started a small fashion company together, with Lim as head designer. They called it “Development,” and said that if they made less then $3,000 on the first order, they’d quit their day jobs. They ended up making $30,000.
Five years later, in 2005, Lim decided to take some time off. At the same time, his business partner, Wen Zhou, asked him to come back to New York, to start a business together. They had fifteen minutes to come up with the name.
Lim and Zhou decided upon 3.1 Phillip Lim, adding the “3.1” as a nod to their ages. Thus, a worldwide phenomenon was born.
Cool Girl Aesthetic
Phillip Lim’s clothing is known for offering high-fashion styling at (relatively) low prices. His pieces are classic with a twist, always seeking to embody that “cool-girl” aesthetic. He loves to use shades of white and cream, clean lines, and floral prints.
Lim says that his clothes are “a bit classic in attitude, but impart a sense of individual style.”
3.1 Phillip Lim began in 2005 and has grown quickly. (The company’s sales hit $60 million in 2011.) In addition, its head designer has won numerous awards for his work.
In 2007, Phillip Lim received the CFDA award for Emerging Talent in Womenswear. In 2012, he received the Swarovski Award for Menswear. In 2013, Lim gained mainstream name recognition with a collection for Target. It featured structured, elegant workwear pieces and superhero-inspired motifs.
The 3.1 Phillip Lim brand continues to grow, embodying a true American business success story. We can’t wait to see where it – and its eponymous designer – goes next!
How do you feel about 3.1 Phillip Lim? Did you decide to study fashion after trying something else first? Did you like Lim’s recent collection? Suggestions for the next installment of Designer Spotlight? Leave ’em in the comments!