Hi Phillip, first could you tell us what drove you to fashion?
I grew up in Orange County, California, it was very traditional, suburban. My only connection to fashion was through MTV music videos. But, I never really thought about fashion [as a career]. My mother was a seamstress and I was supposed to be either a business person, doctor, or lawyer, all the credible professions of the immigrant son. My third year of business school, I registered in home economics (family and consumer sciences) and they had fashion courses there like basic merchandising and sewing. The last year of getting my degree I did an internship course at a fashion company because I worked at retail at the time. Two weeks later they hired me to stay full time, but I was still in school. So, I had to figure out how to not attend school, but still graduate with a degree.
You are based in New York, what does this city mean to you and how does it influence you?
Yes based in New York City and it has been home for many years. What I am influenced by most living in New York is the sense of community. I’m proud to live in a place amongst people I feel a kindship with. People who share the same values, people who push for decency and representation.
Where do you usually get inspiration from and catch the theme of your collection?
I am most inspired by the world around me; everyday things – people on the street, the vibrancy of New York City, light, noise and color. And also by breathtaking ones – the sky, the ocean, the sun. I always like to say that I am an evolutionary designer, rather than a revolutionary designer. And what I mean by that, is I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I design classic clothes, but with an unusual, unexpected twist. We like to say, our design philosophy at 3.1 Phillip Lim is classic with a sense of madness. That twist has become the brand’s signature and my aim is to apply that into every collection. Sometimes it starts with a place I’ve visited, or an era of music.
Could you briefly explain about your SS21 collection? Did the pandemic situation influence you in any way?
Absolutely. When everyone fled the city, I was hunkered down in my apartment unsure of what would unfold next. The SS21 collection represents the opposite of escapism and dressing for the new world.
Discover Phillip Lim's Spring/Summer 2021 Collection here
If you design something other than the products of your brand, what would it be?
I recently just designed cookware and kitchen décor for a personal project, More Than Our Bellies. I love cooking and this was a natural step into designing one of a kind pieces.
If you were asked to recommend one book, which book would it be?
There are two books that I recently read that I absolutely loved. They are ‘How to Be Antiracist’ by Ibram X. Kendi and ‘The Chinese in America’ by Iris Chang. Knowledge is power and these books are excellent sources for furthering education in the antiracism space.
Via your Instagram posts, it looks like you are quite a foodie! Could you please share with us one of your favorite receipts?
One of my favorites is my mother’s Garlic Fried Shrimp.
See below for the recipe!
- 1 pound shell-on shrimp
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chili flakes
- 2 cups tapioca flour
- 3 cups neutral oil, for frying
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed, leaves picked off
- Devein the shrimp. Mix together the garlic powder, salt and chili flakes, and add half the mixture to the tapioca flour.
- Toss half the shrimp in the tapioca mixture, making sure to coat evenly. Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. You’ll know the oil is hot enough when it begins to simmer, and a small bit of the tapioca mixture sizzles immediately when you drop it in.
- Fry the shrimp for 30 seconds to a minute on each side, flipping when they are a nice golden brown. (Lim likes to use a pair of chopsticks for this step.) Drain on a paper towel-lined tray or cutting board.
- In a large bowl, toss the fried shrimp with a few more pinches of the salt mixture, half the lime juice and half the cilantro. Serve immediately, preferably with some cold beer; once the first batch disappears, repeat with the rest of the shrimp.
Please tell us your final goal as a fashion designer and as one person.
I don’t like to define an end point or “final goal” of my journey. It’s ever evolving and growing. I will keep designing until it is no longer enjoyable or of service to my community.