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The Vietnamese fashion designer who credits his mum for his success

Inspired by his tailor mum, Lam Gia Khang set out to start his own couture label, but not before snagging third place in the first season of Project Runway Vietnam.

The Vietnamese fashion designer who credits his mum for his success

Lam Gia Khang's eponymous, by-appointment-only boutique in Ho Chi Minh City offers bespoke dressmaking services as well as ready-to-wear collections. (Photo: Freestate Productions)

Vietnamese designer Lam Gia Khang, a fourth-generation tailor in his family, first discovered his love for fashion at the tender age of eight. “When I was a child, my mother – who inherited the business from my grandaunt – used to let me play around the tailor shop. The tailoring tools soon became my toys,” he revealed.

Inspired by his tailor mum, Lam Gia Khang set out to start his own couture label, but not before snagging third place in the first season of Project Runway Vietnam.

He loved imitating his mother at work and soon, he too, began to develop a deep passion for tailoring. “All those years watching her create beautiful bespoke dresses made me fall in love with dressmaking. I was deeply inspired by the joy that women felt whenever they wear a new dress,” said Lam.

His mother, Mdm Hang Nguyen, had reservations about her son’s lofty ambitions in the beginning, as tailoring in her eyes was perceived as blue-collar work, but Lam’s natural talent and creativity changed her mind.

“Khang has always been very passionate about fashion design. He learned to sew by watching me. He was also very eager to design clothing for my customers. The ladies were always full of praise for his creations. It was then that I realised that he would go far in his career,” she said.

That passion steered him closer to his dreams of becoming a full-fledged couturier when he bagged third place in the first season of Project Runway Vietnam in 2013. Shortly after that, he attended the London College for Design and Fashion in Hanoi before launching his LAM GIA KHANG label in 2014. The following year, his “less is more” aesthetic earned him the title “Upcoming Fashion Designer of the Year” for Elle Vietnam.

His takes a classical approach to design with clean, modern lines in a neutral colour palette of beige, white and black – timeless colours that will fit every occasion and every season. The rationale behind his minimalist approach to style is simple: “I’ve always wanted to design for women who pursue a simple yet elegant aesthetic. I don’t want to just design trendy and bold outfits that will be thrown away after the season ends. My designs will follow customers throughout their lives.”

WATCH> The tailor who'll only make five suits a month – 500,000 stitches at a time

That distinct point of view continues with his second eponymous label, Gia Studios, which hit a home run when his debut collection sold out at Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford in 2018. Lam’s work has also been featured in Vogue China and Grazia UK.

The by-appointment-only boutique offers bespoke dressmaking services, as well as ready-to-wear collections inspired by Saigon style. Lam’s latest collection is inspired by beautiful images from the past, such as the timeless elegance of old Saigon, when office ladies donned pencil skirts, flared trousers and fitted shirts.

Lam is deeply nostalgic about his hometown and hopes his brand will be able to give a fresh perspective of Vietnamese fashion at an international level. “It is important to let the world know Vietnamese fashion has evolved beyond traditional costumes,” he remarked.

At the helm of his production team at Gia Studios is none other than Lam’s mother, who continues to work tirelessly to help her son achieve his artistic vision. On the plus side, having your mother work alongside you has its perks, too. Lam’s mother packs home-cooked meals to the office for him daily, including his favourite soup!

WATCH> Lessons in ethical fashion – from Vietnam’s diverse ethnic traditions

Source: CNA/ds

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