Derek Lam on style, elegance and the power of online shopping
Luxurious but wearable, feminine and unfussy, Derek Lam's clean lines and attention to rational styling have won him a legion of fashion fans across the globe. He has recently launched a signature collection for online retailer eBay and we at Independent Woman took some time to catch up with Derek to talk about his new collection, his proudest moments and his guiltiest fashion secrets.
So Derek, were you always in the Rag Trade?
My parents ran a business that imported clothes from Asia, and before them, my grandparents ran a very successful garment company in San Francisco that specialized in bridal wear. I remember sitting down with the seamstresses for hours, fascinated at their intricate bead work.
How did you get started as a designer and what would you say was your breakthrough moment?
I graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1990 and started working for Michael Kors. I worked there for four years and then went to Hong Kong and worked for a large retail brand. I gained a lot of experience from my travels, travelling is always an eye opener and I would recommend it for any budding fashion designer. When I got back I was appointed vice President of Design for Michael Kors’ line.
You've just launched a collection for online retailer eBay - how did that come about?
The DEREK LAM + eBay collaboration has enabled us to make use of technology in a really smart way to reach shoppers directly. We’ve been able to leverage eBay’s global platform as an inventive incubator for design and discover what our customers desire from an accessible, contemporary line.
Was it difficult to design with that market in mind?
The Derek Lam woman is intelligent, sensual and loves clothes as an outlet to express her personality and individuality. She makes the clothes her own. I designed the collection to be made up of dresses for every woman’s wardrobe. They all have clean lines, an effortless elegance and a playful touch of sensual femininity. They are both luxurious and wearable.
What's the reaction to the collection been like so far?
The collection has been well received. eBay fans globally loved the collection and this was definitely reflected in the mass voting that took place to narrow the 16 dresses down to just six. I am grateful to everyone who took part in such an exciting collaboration.
Online shopping has really come of age, any tips for how to buy?
Online shopping has sky rocketed in the past few years and is second nature to most people now - head for somewhere with a large collection and have fun.
What's the biggest mistake women make when it comes to styling?
Keeping up with trends. This should be a progression and feel natural. Style is personal.
Which items should we have in the wardrobe this summer?
A versatile dress. It should be able to translate from day to night. Perfect feminine elegance.
You're known for your minimal but wearable creations. Have you any guilty secrets when it comes to your wardrobe ... a polyester tracksuit or a kipper tie perhaps?
I have a pair of cotton PJs that I wouldn’t part with .... ever.
Where can we find Derek Lam on a Sunday afternoon?
When I am not working I like to spend time at my house on Fire Island.
What's next for you.... any more collaborations in the pipeline?
My new diffusion line “10 Crosby Derek Lam” for Resort 2012.
What has been the best moment?
Derek Lam +eBay has pushed the boundaries in terms of showcasing fashion off the runway. Collaborating with fashion fans all around the world has been a great experience.