Phillip Lim is celebrating his label’s 10th anniversary this year, and coincidentally, his loft has finally completed renovations. He originally moved into the loft seven years ago, situated in a century-old building, where he also bought out the neighboring space to create a two-bedroom apartment. But this undertaking proved to be more troublesome than it sounds since the designer wanted to create a home fitting this own style. While many may find that this extensive task is a lot to pile on top of an already hectic schedule — where Lim designs four women’s and two men’s collections a year (among more) — Lim considered this easy. “As a designer, I’m trained to produce every 45 days, so this was easy and fun,” he says. “With Joe, I was like, ‘Can you speed it up? Because I can make the decision fast—you’re holding me up trying to draw a line.’ Poor guy.”
The Wall Street Journal takes us into Lim’s home base, and talks to him about his art collection, why the renovations took so long, and his history as a designer. Read the entire article here.
Lim values efficiency and practicality in his own work as well. “I don’t like aesthetics alone,” he says. “When a beautiful person doesn’t have a purpose, I don’t know what to say. When something is useful, it actually becomes more beautiful.” Winner of the 2013 CFDA Accessories Designer of the Year Award and the CFDA Swarovski awards for menswear (2012) and womenswear (2007), Lim exhibits a masterful ability to blend cool swagger with an athletic pragmatism. His women’s designs for this fall include deconstructed baseball jackets, asymmetrical skirts and an elevated paratrooper pant. He also insists on value; he once made a windbreaker that converted into its own traveling tote. “If something costs $600, I’ll ask my team, ‘How long do you think it takes for the average person to make $600? You better make it worth it for them,’” Lim says. “ ‘You make that stitch vibrate.’ ”
The brand launched in 2005—Lim was 31, hence 3.1—and a decade later there still isn’t a formalized business strategy. (They also have yet to accept outside investment, a luxuriously stable position for an independent fashion company.) Lim doesn’t believe in growth for the sake of growth. As he sees it, “If we plan for seven stores and four of them are bad locations, we can’t just keep going. You have to open your eyes.”
Similarly, status doesn’t hold much sway with Lim. He’s more into experience. Which is part of the reason that unlike some of his peers, he’s not aching to expand into categories beyond fashion, like homewares, or gunning to head up any brand other than his own. He also understands that at a certain level the top job becomes more about management. “To me, it’s not about the title. It’s about what you do, the discipline. I think about other friends and colleagues, and if you want [to be the] revered, untouchable, ‘I am the creative director of this house,’ go for it,” he says. “But I don’t have that vision.”
What Lim does have is a mindfulness that allows him to embody and appreciate the present—a rare thing in fashion’s current churn-and-burn climate. “If this is all stripped away,” he says, “I could still make clothes.”