3.1 Philip Lim

About 3 years ago, I purchased a jacket from a new designer that I had never heard of 3.1 Philip Lim.  Over time, I saw his name more and more.  A couple of the small boutiques that I like carried his line.  Smart, modern, classic with a bit of a twist.  What I really like is not only the great fabrics but the price points and also how diverse the line is.  It doesn’t seem like they make a lot of items in bulk so you don’t see yourself coming and going.  That has been the demise of the Gap.  It worked 10 years ago but it isn’t working now.  People are looking to make their 15 minutes of fame and be unique. 

This past week, Lim was given the ultimate award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America as the top emerging talent of the year.  He is the real deal.  He has worked his way up the ladder working for other major designers until he went out on his own.

Currently his business does about $30M a year.  He has expanded from the small boutiques who are always the first to recognize young talent into Barneys and Neiman Marcus.  Word is that he will be opening a retail store in Soho next.

I just hope that he continues to keep the intimacy of his line.  That you won’t find Philip Lim at Macys.  You won’t find that one fantastic jacket is duplicated 4500 times.  In general, my experience is that you find a new talent, wear it for a few years and then they grow and you become uninterested because the line is mass marketed.  I understand the appeal from designers end, believe me.  I have been in the business.  But, Lim is one of the few designers over the past 5 years that I love his talent.  He has an incredible eye and understanding for the fashions now and the right cut for women. 

We are in a very interesting time for fashion.  The prices are through the roof.  We are seeing celebrities join the area of creating lines with their name on it.  They obviously aren’t designers just well dressed.  On the other hand, some major young designers are designing one off lines for huge lower priced stores such as H & M, Target and Uniclo.  Philip Lim did and so did Mizrahi, and the Gap made a while line of white shirts by big designers.  It makes sense.  Capture an audience interested in fashion but can’t afford it.  Also, have people who can afford it mix it up with lower priced items.   

Media has made every young girl want to look like a maven.  The change in retail over the next few years will be interesting to follow as the dollar sinks against the euro and the economy continues to erode the middle class.  I believe we will see some major department stores such as a Macys close many doors, smaller boutiques grow, opportunities for young designers to create niche markets successfully for themselves with the opportunity of growth and new stores who understand quick turn and design come into play.  Like Fresh Direct is slowly killing the old Supermarkets, the same will happen in the retail world.  Real estate might be the best thing that some of the larger chains own, such as The Gap, what they do with it will be something to watch.