Young designer wants to internationalise Vietnamese fashion brand

Update: July, 11/2021 - 09:52


Designer Tài Lê

Young designer Tài Lê recently stirred up the fashion industry in Việt Nam by opening a store in HCM City. He is a graduate of Parsons School of Design's Fashion School in New York City and received “Student Designer of the Year” award in 2017. After joining international fashion shows, Lê became famous in many major fashion markets.

This year when the fashion industry has faced difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Lê decided to expand his career in Việt Nam by opening a flagship store in District 1 in HCM City. Việt Nam News reporter Thu Ngân talks with Lê about his career and the development of the local fashion industry.

A corner of TAILE shop in HCM City.  Photo courtesy of TAILE

Inner Sanctum: Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Tài Lê. I am a designer. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Marketing from Boston University. Then, I got another degree in fashion design with the "Student Designer of the Year 2017" award at the United States' most prestigious design school, Parsons School of Design.

During my time in the US, I also practised and worked for world-famous fashion brands such as Giorgio Armani, Zara, Banana Republic, and BCBG MaxAzria. 

I am so proud to be one of three students chosen by the fashion giant Inditex to present the design collection for Zara in the contest "The Invisible Project" in Spain.

The year 2017 marked the beginning of my fashion career. 

After accumulating enough experience in the fashion and business fields, I launched the brand TAILE. 

I then was invited to attend the Hong Kong Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week in 2018 and 2019, respectively. 

I had set up flagship stores on big fashion streets in New York, Hong Kong, Milan, Dubai, Berlin and London before doing so in my home country, Việt Nam, last April. 

With just over three years after launch, the brand has resonated strongly with domestic and international fans and I decided to continue to expand with the 8th flagship store worldwide and the first in Việt Nam in the lobby of the 5-star hotel Caravelle Saigon in HCM City this year.

With the launch of this flagship showroom meeting international standards, I want to again affirm the long-term strategic direction for an international fashion brand “Made in Việt Nam”. The aim is to make a mark in the international fashion scene with its top-notch product quality and business practice.

A corner of TAILE shop in HCM City. Photo courtesy of TAILE

Inner Sanctum: You were successful in New York as “student designer of the year”. Why didn't you choose to develop your career in a big market? Why did you choose Hong Kong and Việt Nam?

Asian fashion markets are emerging at a rate faster than ever.

They have a lot in store for fashion lovers. There is no doubt to the fact that the Asian fashion markets were far behind the North American and European markets, initially. But we can see significant changes taking place. 

Changing consumer tastes can be regarded the main reason.

Hong Kong has been ranked as a fashion capital of the world many times. Its fashion industry is mainly influenced by the Chinese fashion market. It has well-developed fashion products. Apart from these traditional fashion markets, Asia has the highest number of emerging fashion markets of the world. India, Singapore and UAE have a promising future in world fashion. In modern times, when the fashion market is craving for something different and unique, these markets have a lot to offer to the masses.

Inner Sanctum: What are main inspirations for your collections?

The inspiration comes from various sources and sometimes the influences transcend time and geographical location and manifest themselves everywhere.

Fashion inspiration is the outcome of creative research, which in turn is an essential part of the design process. It is the sourcing of and collection of ideas prior to design. Once you have defined your subject, the research you undertake should be experimental and investigative. It is an essential tool in the creative process and will provide information, inspiration and creative direction, as well as a narrative to your collection.

Inner Sanctum: How do you think that COVID-19 pandemic has changed the fashion industry in Việt Nam and in the world in general?

We all know that online shopping continues to surge in popularity, but multichannel retailers now more than ever, need to find new and innovative ways to attract customers into the stores, particularly their flagships, because that’s the store that sort of tells the customer who they are. Bricks and mortar retailing is no longer just about stacking and selling product. I think the opportunity is to really catch shopper’s attention and learn how to teach them, perhaps even how to entertain the customer and offer services to create an experience their customers cannot find elsewhere. 

Inner Sanctum: Why did you decide to expand your business in the country amid the pandemic?

With the business and the economy changed by COVID-19, there are still ways for you to grow your business during the pandemic. Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn have become even more important for brands that want to stay connected to their customer in the age of remote work and store closures. New brands need time to build awareness. 

Inner Sanctum: What should Vietnamese designers do to keep up with the trends of the global fashion industry and overcome difficulties posed by COVID-19 pandemic?

Vietnamese designers can research trends online during fashion weeks, develop an e-commerce business, build a better website, and connect with trade shows.

Inner Sanctum: Can you tell us about your plans for the future?

My plan was to create a new international-level high end designer brand on the first day. I will continue to focus on making new collections, attending fashion weeks around the world, and meeting new retailers to have my collections in their stores worldwide. VNS