Vietnamese editor honoured for contribution to fashion industry

February 19, 2023 - 07:25
Trần Nguyễn Thiên Hương, founder and chief executive of Sun Flower Media, a Vietnamese publishing house that has held the licence for local edition of Harper’s Bazaar since 2011, talks with Phương Mai about her work and how Việt Nam is keeping up with the trend of sustainable fashion.
TASTEMAKER - Trần Nguyễn Thiên Hương, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, is named in the top 500 people shaping the global fashion industry (The BoF 500). Photo courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar Việt Nam

Trần Nguyễn Thiên Hương is founder and chief executive of Sun Flower Media, a Vietnamese publishing house that has held the licence for local edition of Harper’s Bazaar since 2011. As editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, she has had contributions to promoting Vietnamese fashion to the world. According to The Business of Fashion, Hương is a focal point for international brands looking for insight into the Vietnamese retail and marketing industries. Hương talks with Phương Mai about her work and how Việt Nam is keeping up with the trend of sustainable fashion.

Inner Sanctum: As editor-in-chief of the local edition of Harper’s Bazaar and several domestic titles, what is your plan to support and promote Vietnamese designers and fashion brands to the world?

As editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, I have organised numerous activities to promote fashion in Việt Nam as well as introduce Vietnamese fashion to the world market.

For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we still hosted seminars about new fashion trends in the world or global sustainable fashion trends. The seminars attracted international experts who provided knowledge on the latest fashion trends to people working in the fashion industry in Việt Nam. We have sent talented Vietnamese designers to international competitions, giving them an opportunity to reach the global market.

Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam also provides information on Vietnamese fashion brands, so customers can easily approach Vietnamese fashion and made-in-Việt Nam fabrics.

I forgot to talk about the latest event, Harper’s Bazaar Star Awards 2022. It is another event in a series of activities hosted by the magazine to encourage and honour creative activities in the field of fashion, and at the same time, to connect Vietnamese people working in the fashion industry with international friends. These exchanges are very useful so that we can learn from foreign colleagues and introduce them to a potential industry in our country.

SUPPORTING FASHION - Trần Nguyễn Thiên Hương (left), Michele D’Ercole (2nd left), chairman of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Việt Nam, and Enrico Padula, Consul General of Italy in HCM City (right) and his wife. Photo courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar Việt Nam

Inner Sanctum: How do you feel about being named in the BoF 500 list?

The Business of Fashion is a prestigious news outlet specialising in the global fashion business. The BoF 500 is annually announced, naming the 500 most influential people in the global fashion industry, including a lot of stars in the world. Therefore, it is my honour to be voted in the list. It means that the world recognises and highly appreciates my contribution to the development of the fashion industry not only in Việt Nam but also in the world. I think I have a responsibility to put more and more effort into my work to deserve the title.

Inner Sanctum: In the post-pandemic era, the world fashion is aiming at sustainable development goals. What does Việt Nam need to do to keep up with this trend? What are our strengths and weaknesses?

Sustainable development is an inevitable trend of the world fashion. There will be a time when if manufacturers do not meet “green” criteria, they will not be able to export fashion overseas. Therefore, from now on, Vietnamese manufacturers must have plans for the use of green technologies and materials. Don’t let yourself be behind the times.

Việt Nam’s weakest points are outdated textile technology, poor handling of environmental pollution, and not knowing how to promote significant advantages such as silk, ramie fibre, and artisans’ craftsmanship. Several traditional techniques are fading. If we learn how to promote these advantages, Việt Nam will become a high-end fashion centre in the world.

Inner Sanctum: Vietnamese designers and fashion companies are currently paying more attention to sustainable materials. Do you think sustainable materials are widely known in Việt Nam and can designers, especially young ones, easily access these materials?

Vietnamese designers have begun to learn and use natural materials in product design, for example, designers Hà Linh Thư or Trần Hùng love using Vietnamese silk. Foreign customers love their products.

However, there are only a small number of designers who care about using local silk because it is expensive. Exported fabric is still our favourite even if it is cheap polyester fabric.

If we want to build a fashion industry with high-end brands, we cannot still use cheap materials. I hope that there will be more and more designers using local materials such as silk and ramie fibre. It will make Vietnamese fashion “greener” and help local textile companies grow strongly.

Inner sanctum: In your opinion, what should the fashion industry do to promote and encourage customers to have an interest in sustainable fashion?

Vietnamese consumers themselves have begun to prefer green materials because these materials are not only gentle but also do not cause skin irritation.

Apart from using natural materials, recycling also plays an important role in conserving natural resources. The world has started to produce recycled leather, and leather made from mushrooms as a replacement for real leather. The manufacturing process of leather causes serious pollution to the environment. It is necessary to have investors invest in factories with the latest technologies in order to make a radical improvement in the support industries for fashion.

There is still a lot of work to do. However, I believe that “Just go, you will arrive”. VNS