2013.021.003 Oral History with Derek Lam
Derek Lam was born in San Francisco and studied fashion at Parsons School of Design. His decision was influenced by his family being in the garment business. In starting his own brand, he wanted to challenge himself by being in the forefront. He believes that fashion should be expressive and spontaneous.


DEREK LAM: I was born in San Francisco, and my fashion training: Parsons School of Design.

DEREK LAM: My family was involved in the garment business, so that influenced my decision, or my understanding of the fashion business. But I think, ultimately, it was because I wanted to do something creative, but also something that was connected to business.

DEREK LAM: I decided to start my own brand because I wanted to make that a challenge for myself. I'm naturally not someone who likes to put himself in the forefront, so it was a huge challenge.

DEREK LAM: Well, my cultural identity is obviously American with a very strong
Chinese influence. But I think the particular the piece that we're talking about
for the exhibit really stands for my understanding of the American spirit that goes into fashion. Something that is clean, functional, still luxury, still elevated, but just very rational in a fashionable way.

DEREK LAM: There's a broad interest in fashion because in in a very short period of time, in one year, there's three or four seasons going on. It speaks about the immediate culture. It reflects ideas that people are thinking about in a very consistently produced manner. Some would say that it's rather shallow. Because there's this kind of always getting expressing the work. But it also
makes it very spontaneous and that's what people respond to.

DEREK LAM: Just a very public arena in fashion, I think also for that reason, people are attracted to fashion business because you do set yourself up for that challenge of being a public person, a public persona. And maybe because there haven't been that many Asians in this field, it's a nice kind of I feel like it's kind of like, "I'm finding my own way." That is a nice challenge.

Search This Transcript
Search Clear