2013.021.009 Oral History with Peter Som
Peter Som is a San Francisco born fashion designer who had the aspiration to be an artist since he was very young. He’s always aimed for starting a business in New York and since then has been extremely ambitious in the fashion industry. He proposes the idea of fashion in order to convey his view of his culture in a future perspective. He brings new and modern elements to his style that not many other designers have yet begun to think of. His appreciation for the urban culture in New York City shows in his application and care when creating and showcasing his pieces. Peter Som shows a great deal of integrity between his identity as a modern fashion designer and his indebtedness to his Chinese American culture.


PETER SOM: I was born in San Francisco, and I really became interested in fashion from a very young age, um, my parents were both architects so I think I was really inspired by their sense of design and I was also very shy as a child so I used to sketch a lot and the first thing I ever drew was uh my mother. It was a triangle with a little head, and little stick arms, and stick legs and so that's how it started and I started drawing and drawing and continued to always draw women and their clothes.

PETER SOM: I trained in fashion at Parsons School of Design. I, uh, it was a lifelong dream to go there and to go to New York.

PETER SOM: I really wanted to start my own line because for me fashion was what I always wanted to do since fifth grade, since I was very young so setting up, um, a company in New York, I really started very grassroots. I think when you're young it's equal parts ambition and drive and just having to just really go for it because it's a, it's a tough industry and you really have to just be driven and be prepared to work very hard.

PETER SOM: It doesn't come out in, you know, in doing sort of Chinese motifs or anything literally like that. For me it's really probably at the most, a strong work ethic.

PETER SOM: The dress relates to my cultural identity and also my brand I think in many ways. I chose that dress to be a part of exhibition because the to me it represented the future of um of China. It's a very forward graphic print. I think of, you know, Hong Kong when my you know throughout the years and obviously all the other cities. it's the future. There is such a strong technological forward thinking way that the country is going and for me that print really represented um just the movement of going forward. And for me it's all about the print mix. I love prints, uh, I mixed two different prints on the bodice and on the dress and it's colorful and that's what I love.

PETER SOM: The interest in fashion is growing every day and I think there's many reasons for that. One of them definitely is the internet. The access that people have to fashion. To being able to see fashion shows instantaneously. Um, whereas in the past you maybe saw a little clip on TV in the news or something. So there's that. And I think you can get fashion at any price point. Everyone can experience fashion, whether you're going to Zara or H&M or whether you're going to Bergdorf's or Barneys. So it's not -- fashion is really for everybody now.

PETER SOM: This exhibition is really exciting because I think it's probably the first time that you really have this gathering of this collection of Chinese designers and bringing together that kind of talent and being in the company of such wonderful talented designers is, is an honor. There's a level of support and understanding I think between Chinese designers that um is--you know, there's a common experience and I think that's something that is so powerful and I think there's a strength in numbers and it's great that we're all in this, in this exhibition together.

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