“For Fearless Contemporary Women Who Are Independent Yet Sexy & Feminine”
Former investment banker Vivienne Hu is a case study in following one’s muse, having left the finance game to study her true calling: fashion. Fresh off her graduation from Parsons The New School for Design in New York, last year Hu launched her eponymous fashion brand, releasing two collections to date.
Recently, Jing Daily sat down with Hu in New York to talk about her label, her influences, and her big plans for the future.
Jing Daily (JD): Can you tell us a little about your background?
Vivienne Hu (VH): I grew up in China and got my bachelor’s degree in Finance at the University of Hohenheim, Germany. Prior to studying Fashion Design at Parsons, I worked as a financier at a leading investment bank on Wall Street.
JD: What spurred your interest in fashion design?
VH: I have always been passionate about the creative things in life: a lyric, a garden in the spring, a painting in a museum.
After working as a banker for three years, I felt that I couldn’t just sit in front of a laptop building models and processing data for the rest of my life. I wanted to be more creative and wanted women to wear what I created for them, so I finally followed my heart and pursued my creative dream.
JD: What was your initial goal in establishing your brand?
VH: I established the brand to kind of express my personal characteristics. I want to reach my clients directly and convey to them the mixture of femininity, sexiness and coolness carried by my brand.
JD: How many collections have you launched so far? How many pieces do you have in each collection?
VH: So far, I have launched two collections: Spring/Summer 2012 and Fall/Winter 2013. Each collection has two lines: a five-piece couture line that is completely handcrafted, and a ready-to-wear contemporary line of around 20 pieces.
JD: How would you describe your aesthetic, or the style of your brand?
VH: I want to design for fearless contemporary women who are independent yet sexy and feminine. My personal experiences have also shaped my aesthetic, so I’ve been constantly combining classic European elegance, New York downtown style, and an exotic Asian taste into my designs.
JD: Do you plan to open a boutique? If so, what have you done so far to that end, and why would you prefer to go into retail rather than wholesale?
VH: I’m planning to open a pop-up store in Soho soon. It is a way to build up a direct relationships with my customers, and I want to tell them the story of my brand through the interiors, the visual displays and the customer service that they could only get from a total store experience.
Of course, at the same time I’ll also make my collections available at major department stores as well as online.
JD: Do you have a design studio? How big is your team?
VH: Yes. Currently our design team has three designers, and a PR agency will work on the marketing/PR side of our business.
JD: What’s the inspiration for your current collection?
VH: Our latest collection was inspired by medieval costumes, and we did a lot of research to get just the right references. We were thinking about medieval European warriors, Persian textiles, Chinese women in the Tang dynasty and so on.
JD: What’s your long-time goal?
VH: As a Chinese fashion designer, I would say that I do recognize my own heritage and I want to create timeless designs that that are appreciated by women in their 30s and 40s. It takes a long time to build up a strong brand, but I’m patient enough to take things slowly.