"It's like a drug. When I need to feel a certain way, I choose a certain type of clothing."
“What brought me into fashion is the clothes, and what engages me every single day is still the clothes. It's like a drug. When I need to feel a certain way, I choose a certain type of clothing. I change three times a day, at least! More and more, I'm wearing my brand because I have more options. … At the same time, I always appreciate and enjoy other people's ideas and thoughts because it's like a vacation from myself. That's why I love to wear other designer’s clothes.
People tell me about my designs, ‘I just feel like you're with me.’ I kind of am! With my men’s line, I create the things that I want. I try to design the cut to create a stance automatically. I love the idea of gangsters, like Cholos and the Yakuza. There's always a tribal mentality in the clothes, even with the women’s clothes. I imagine, ‘If I were a woman, how would I want my stance to be?’ … My gang is a happy gang, though. I always try to incorporate something fun into the clothes, so whoever is wearing them can still have that sense of dream. I don't like to take it too seriously.
I wouldn't be in this business if I didn't have an atelier next door, because that's how you create things. You have to touch it. You have to sculpt it, cut it, and fold it. … People are always saying that I should work with factories online because they are less expensive, but imagine if I clicked on a fabric because it looks good on the computer! … That's called, ‘I should be put in jail.’ [laughs]
I love the idea of temporary. You come into this world with nothing, you should leave with nothing. I think of life like a charm-bracelet, you collect charms and every charm is an experience. I've been fortunate enough to have a lot of weight on my bracelet.” – Phillip Lim to Shop Ghost
Phillip Lim photographed at his studio in New York by Stevie Dance.
“I have this photo of Courtney Love on my inspiration board – it's about the craziness and the madness that she represents. Just going for it. I call it "controlled chaos." I also have this work by Joan Mitchell. She was the only female artist amongst the super-macho American artists in the 1950's. I love the fact she took her stance among the boys.”
“My mother is my hero. I have this tattoo of her name, Hannah. She taught me the idea of humility, empathy, hanging in there, and never giving up on people because she had a hard life and she never gave up.”
“In this industry, there are a lot of not so nice people, so when you meet someone nice, you’ve got to work with each other, support each other, and promote each other. It’s like building a family. … My team here is like my family. We have meetings, and everyone is encouraged to say what they want and fight for the things they believe in. The family that fights together, stays together, isn't that it? [laughs]”
Back in the Day
“I grew up in California during the beginning of MTV, so I was determined to have looks, even at a young age. I was so excited to get dressed in the morning, that the night before I would do my hair and layout my clothes so I was ready. I followed the trends at that moment: rock-a-billy, mod, romantic, new wave, punk. It was anything, and I channeled it!”