News & Runway

Designer Dossier: Derek Lam

Derek LamClothing could, arguably, be in Derek Lam's blood. His grandparents ran a garment factory at which Lam would marvel over the seamstresses from a very young age. After a quick stint at Boston College, he was off to Parsons The New School for Design in New York. There he studied with pals like Jenna Lyons and partook of the NYC 80s nightlife. Post school, Lam took a job working at Michael Kors, where he would remain on and off until he began his own clothing line on a shoestring budget from his West Village apartment.

Though Lam enjoys success and a loyal following today, his transition from working for established brands to working for himself wasn't always smooth sailing. In fact, his first collection in February of 2003 was a flop, failing to attract any buyers. He didn't quit and presented a second collection the following September that included a small number of floral dresses that made a strong enough impression to allow him to build his brand into what it is today. When asked (by Vogue) to describe his Fall 2010 collection, Lam said, "Sensual, relaxed luxury."

According to the online fashion bible known as Vougepedia, the merit of Lam's style is in creating American sportswear looks that can be worn for years to come, but contain unique and interesting elements of other cultures: a "worldly" aesthetic. We love Lam as much for his perseverance as for creating wearable clothing that never ceases to have youthful, yet modern, cachet. In 2007, Lam won the all-coveted CFDA award and has since been a staple in the short list of major designers that editors and buyers watch closely every season. If you haven't started yet, we suggest you watch him too. He's a trendsetter amongst trendsetters.