As his 3.1 Phillip Lim label launches an eight-piece collaboration with Ugg today, Drapers catches up with feted American designer Phillip Lim to hear about the collection, his early experiments in style and his love of laid-back California cool.
Stocked in more than 400 boutiques in 50 countries, 3.1 Phillip Lim is a powerhouse American brand, celebrated for its classic contemporary designs. Founded in New York, the brand is nevertheless inspired by a relaxed LA vibe. It is a theme Lim is taking to the next level with his collaboration with Australian footwear brand Ugg. He is the latest designer – following British brand Preen and Moschino’s Jeremy Scott – to lend his distinctive design signatures to the classic Ugg style. Prices for the collection of eight men’s, women’s and childrenswear styles range from £75 to £995. The line launches on 15 September in Harrods and online in the UK.
How did you first become interested in design?
My mother used to sew and I’d ask her to update the clothes I would buy at Walmart or local charity shops: “Crop this, elongate that, tighten this.” So from a really young age I was very curious about style, and aware of how clothes impacted and informed identity. As a kid, I never really knew that the fashion designer job existed. It was something I realised only when I got older.
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What’s your design process? Who or what inspires your work?
I find inspiration everywhere. Living in New York City, it can be light, noise, people, colour, architecture – all around.
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What were your inspirations for the Ugg collaboration?
I wanted a shoe to offset the elegance of the ready-to-wear collection. Growing up in Southern California, I have memories of walking the boardwalk, seeing guys wearing Ugg boots after surfing and skating, and I always thought there was a real authenticity in their individual style, but also a real purpose. The shoes were meant to relieve the foot after “play”. I like that pragmatism. For this collaboration, it was really about those memories, but also thinking about “How would I wear Ugg today?”
Do you have a favourite piece within the collection?
I love our interpretation of the duck boot!
How does the style of this collection differ from your normal aesthetic?
For me, it’s always about youthful elegance and striking that balance.
How did you go about combining your signature aesthetic with the Ugg designs?
This collaboration started as a desire to get back to the roots of how it started for me. Growing up with surf and skate culture in Southern California, Ugg was always present. I didn’t know they were Ugg at the time; they were just really comfortable shoes, kind of like an indulgence for your feet.
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How would you sum up Californian and LA style?
What’s the best thing about your job?
I get to make my dreams into realities, every day.
What’s the biggest misconception about the fashion industry?
The biggest misconception is that this job is just about designing clothes.
How do you keep yourself motivated and inspired on a day-to-day basis?
By never saying never!
Who in the industry inspires you the most?
My business partner, Wen Zhou.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Someone once told me “It’s all about timing. If you are too early, nothing is open, and if you are too late, it’s closed.”
Favourite clothing brand?
3.1 Phillip Lim … of course!
Favourite places to shop?
The farmers’ market in the North Fork, Long Island, for locally grown produce
Last fashion purchase?
T-shirts from the Japanese men’s label, N Hoolywood
Last book you read?
Start Where You Are by Pema Chödrön
Last film you watched?
A summer job resurfacing tennis courts
If there was a job for ”someone who physically tests mattresses by sleeping on them”, that would be it!
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
At my home in the North Fork, working in my garden