On September 2nd, 2009, Hennes & Mauritz retail company will be launching its newest fashion benefit campaign and introducing local Vancouver designer and fashion school graduate, Steven Pham, as the coveted lead designer. Pham sat down to talk with me about how he became the lead designer for the H&M campaign, his plans for the future and why everyone is going to remember his name.
Steven Pham had some inkling that he had the talent to be picked in a national drawing competition but he had no idea that his drawing, selected out of thousands of entries, would be the feature piece of a new campaign with Unicef or that it would be printed on a cotton tote bag to be sold across the country at one of the most popular and largest retailers in the world. It’s the stuff that fashion dreams are made of. But it’s just the beginning for the 21-year old designer who will be jetting off to Toronto on an all-expense trip paid for by the company, to launch his first ever fashion campaign.
The tote bag, made out of organic cotton, will be sold at H&M stores across the country at $12.95 a piece, with 25 per cent of the proceeds going
to Unicef organization and the Kenya Girls Scholarship Program. Along with the commercial exposure the opportunity brings, the chance to lend a helping hand to those in need is the aspect that Pham is excited about the most.
“In my heart, I’ve always felt like I’ve wanted to help people and you don’t always have the time,” said Pham. “This project makes me excited because I’ll be able to help people I’ve never met before and possibly change their lives. That is an amazing thing.”
Pham, a sales associate at H&M in Pacific Center Mall located in downtown Vancouver, first heard about the design contest when the store manager approached him about entering. The contest description called for contestants to send in a drawing that would best represent H&M but gave no specification as to what it was for. In true fashion form, Pham submitted the drawing the night before the deadline and finished the piece in just under 45 minutes.
The final sketch features a flow of faces and hands, delicately interwoven together to make an L-shape design bordering the left hand side of the square tote. When asked what image would best represent the company, Pham incorporated faces to symbolize the variety of people and cultures that H&M reaches every day. With over 1500 stores in 34 countries, the message of diversity is one that resonates with the international company.
“I felt that there’s so many faces through H&M, there’s so many cultures represented. No one person is the same and that’s what I wanted to show with the faces,” said Pham.
As the release of the bag makes news around the city, Pham wonders what the moment will be like when he first catches a glimpse of a stranger walking down the street with his design on their bag, a commercial milestone few designers have had the pleasure of experiencing.
“I think my first instinct will be that I will totally want to approach them and be like, oh my God, I did that!” says Pham. “It’s probably going to make my eyes glow. It feels like they supported me in a way but at the same time they’re helping a cause that is very important. It’s going to be amazing because people are going to be carrying around me. Even though it’s H&M Unicef, it is me on that bag.”
Using H&M as a stepping stool, Pham is working hard to keep the fashion ball rolling and hopes to launch his own Pham unisex t-shirt line made from bamboo fabrics by spring of 2010. The focus for the t-shirts will be anything but conventional but cater to the basic closet essential by featuring drop shoulders and smaller sleeves, says Pham.
“I just want to recognize me,” said Pham. “I want them to see my signature through art, how my style is and to remember Pham. People will have to remember my name and I know they will. When they meet me they’ll definitely remember who I am; I’m like my own signature.”
Two agonizing months after Pham sent in the drawing, H&M executives in Sweden selected him as the national winner and were “floored” by the submitted drawing. There was even a mention of the possibility of future collaborations with Canadian artist; a prize fashion designers and celebrities alike pine for and one that would turn his dreams of making a mark on the fashion industry, a reality.
Filed under: Fashion | Tags: Anna Wintour, David Letterman, September Issue, Vogue
Working makes it hard to find time to blog but rest assured that I’m working on new material. For now, enjoy Anna Wintour’s Late Night appearance on David Letterman last night. The infamous editor extraordinaire of American Vogue has been making more frequent public appearances as of late to promote her newest project, a behind the scenes documentary that follows her and her team as they put together the coveted September issue highlighting the most important fashion season of the year. My favorite part of the interview? When she walked out on stage in her classic Anna front-row-at-fashion-week shades. The sunglasses are such a essential part of her persona that the in-depth 60 Minute special on Wintour was even titled, “Behind the Shades.” Genius.