International designer Vivienne Tam may be best known for her cross-cultural style that helped bring modern Asian fashion to global runways. Her latest collection continues that theme. Tam recently sat down with Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous on Midday Movers to talk about her business and what to expect in 2018.
Runway meets Silver Screen
Tam, who splits her time between New York and Hong Kong, is known for mixing up her designs. Her spring 2017 collection, for example, was a sort of love letter to the city of Houston, featuring NASA patches, Rice University imagery and the logo of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. For the upcoming spring season, Tam looked to the silver screen for inspiration.
Tam’s spring 2018 collection, presented last month at New York Fashion Week, was influenced by Raman Hui’s Chinese film, “Monster Hunt,” a wildly popular fantasy film about an ancient world where humans and monsters co-exist. At the time of its release in the summer of 2015, it was the highest grossing film ever in China. Tam’s line is a collaboration with the company behind “Monster Hunt,” Edko Films, and it puts the movie’s cute monsters and mythical mountain ranges on dresses, skirts, handbags and shirts. “Monster Hunt 2,” will be out early next year, and Lionsgate and Sony Pictures have distribution rights outside of China.
Tam is hoping the spirit and outlook of the movie’s protagonist, Wuba, will shine through in her designs and connect with global consumers. “Wuba, the character, I love him so much and the feeling of him,” says Tam. “So much fun and adorable … I love that spirit.”
But transforming a lovable character into a fashion line with broad appeal isn’t a simple task. Tam says her imagination is her guide. “I look at the scenery; it is really magical,” says Tam. “Magical mountains and landscapes, and I put them into prints and embroideries and patches … And my imagination takes on from the movie.”
Growing the global brand
With or without Wuba’s help, Tam’s business is already booming in her native China. In August, a deal was announced with the Chinese fashion and apparel giant, Ellassay, a new joint venture for the brand in the Chinese market. The partnership, Tam says, will increase her company’s luxury market exposure. “It’s very important to find a partner that understands my brand strategy … It’s really hard to find and it’s really, really great,” she says.
Tam will also open a new flagship store in Beijing later this year—another sign that luxury sells in China. “[The Chinese shoppers] love it. They feel this freedom … They want to dress up and feel the excitement,” she says. “China is really exciting at the moment. The government is encouraging the creativity. There is so much creativity.”
Tam is also concentrating on globally expanding the company’s e-commerce and social media platform. “We are working closely with our partners to really promote our unified vision of the image of the brand. At the same time adding the local content. It is really important.”
Power of celebrity
Social media is an important tool for Tam—including photos of celebrities wearing her designs.
“I love them wearing my clothes, but really I dress everybody. [But] it’s really great to have that addition.”
While Tam admits there is boost in sales if a celebrity wears her clothes, that’s not her target audience. “I love more when I see a customer on the street wearing my dress and [she comes] up to me and says ‘Vivienne, I love your dress, and I feel really great.’”