The time is ripe for the transformation of fashion

Good craftsmanship delivers added value to mass produced second-hand clothes in Lili Uyen Thuy Pham’s collection.

Lili wants to create luxury. She knows her draping, her embroidery, her digital print; her entire couture-related toolbox is well-equipped and properly organised. But it must be a luxury that moves something, that distortsthe established hierarchy between the high-end designers who traditionally set trends, and the high-street brands which most of us keep in our closet.

"I want to add value to everyday objects," she explains referring to her graduation project from Design School Kolding.


The collection, consisting of a total of eight outfits, was created on the basis of clothing elements from the store H&M which she has personally retrieved from second-hand stores.

"I've s taken what has no value for anyone, and then I've studied how to re-design it creatively in order to generate something truly luxurious," says the newly-educated designer. She has cut fragments of the worn clothes – a trench coat front here, the back of a shirt here – and put it all together for a completely new look.


Copying is a no-no

Lili Uyen Thuy Pham has gone about her work very systematically. It all started with a review of her own wardrobe when she realized that the pieces of clothing she used most were the mass-produced ones that fit most easily into an everyday wardrobe. The more expensive garments, on the other hand, are kept for special occasions. That’s how the inspiration for upcycling the ordinary came about, not least the working title of the project, which is re-copying:

"In the fashion industry, copying is a no-no, a negative concept. But I like the idea; I copy the unique craftsmanship of luxury goods and also the availability of the mass-produced items, and from that something entirely new is emerging. "


Oh, it’s a coat

She has draped, embroidered and designed the selected parts of the second-hand clothes according to the finest French design principles, which she had the opportunity to test during an internship at the Parisian fashion house Jacquemus:

"I have worked directly on a dress form because the various possibilities and limitations can be examined right away. Draping gives a different understanding of the body, another fit in the final product, because you immediately see the natural fall in the pieces you’re working with, "says Lili Uyen Thuy Pham, who also had the consumer in mind during the creative process:

"I use some recognizable components from the original pieces of clothing, and hence the consumer can easily detect where the clothes originally come from, even though I’m pushing the boundaries. I've used classic H&M colours and elements: You can see that, oh right, here’s a piece of trench, that means it must be a coat," says the fashion designer.


Much more added value

The implicit discussion in the project is the designer's ability to influence the fashion industry from within, make good craftsmanship a means of gaining, if not power, then influence:

"It's a matter of some power; that I, as a designer, can convince both consumers and the industry to add new value, and perhaps even added value to the clothes that most people otherwise consider worthless. As a designer I hope to enrich people with what I do. I believe that producers of fashion must brand themselves with outstanding design rather than a logo. Sustainability must be driven by design in order to capture the interests of consumers."