By Michelle Alleyne and Sandra Roy
This issue, we wanted to feature a truly talented designer who’s off to an excellent start, straight out of the gate. The designer, Tai Le, is my former student at Parsons, where he graduated in 2017 and won student designer of the year award. He actually founded his brand while still a student. He’s a wunderkind, having also studied International Business at Suffolk University, Astronomy at Harvard University and Piano at Boston University College of Fine Arts.Now he’s based back in his homeland, Vietnam, selling in Hong Kong, Barcelona and Saigon. His brand, TAILE, is a luxury fashion label. He debuted “The Modern” collection at Vietnam Designer Fashion Week in 2016, with support of Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE magazine.
According to taile-vn.com, the TAILE aesthetic is known for its distinctive use of geometrical shapes and lines derived from architectural inspiration in its creations, fused with signature prints and patterns in pastel colors.And TAILE’s unique design approach features a modern interpretation of futuristic yet sporty apparel through the manipulation of both unusual silhouettes, and the use of special materials in its collections. The TAILE label designs and manufactures a range of luxury ready-to-wear, handbags and sportswear for both women and men, and markets these products to customers under three different lines: TAILE, TAILE Made in Italy, and the TAILE Sport Collection which includes apparel for golf and ski.
We’re not featuring him just because he’s my favorite former student, but because of his immense talent, drive and fortitude that’s gotten him very far, and quickly. It’s the height of summer and his spring summer collection is in major stores — recently featured at Takashimaya in Vietnam — TAILE X TAKASHIMAYA PROJECT POP UP STORE.
At what age did you first start designing or realize that you wanted to be a designer? And how old are you now?
I started sewing at age 16. And I am 27 now.
How do you view the U.S. fashion industry? Asia? What are the differences or similarities?
The U.S. is more developed. And the U.S. fashion school system has more hands-on experience for students, such as attending fashion week, working backstage and interning with well-known designers. Asia as an industry is also competitive, but there are more opportunities to grow and bring new things to the market.
Would you be based in the U.S. if it weren’t for the Trump Administration’s immigration laws?
Absolutely I would.
Do you think you would expand beyond fashion, like home, etc.?
Sure, I would do furniture design under my brand, as well. Luxury isn’t just clothing but also the space we are living in.
Are you enjoying what you do now that you’re out of school and fully immersed in designing?
Yes, very much. I’m very proud to have my name on the product — and my clients love it. It’s tough running your own business, building the brand locally and internationally but I will try my best.
What would you say to students pursuing designing their own brand?
Stay true to who you are in terms of style. In other words, define your own signature style. But also, know who your target market is.
Who is your favorite designer?
J.W. Anderson and Victoria Beckham.
What are you currently doing that’s sustainable?
I produce my textiles in Osaka, Japan, exclusively for the brand. All of my fabric designs have been tested for quality and issued OEKO TEX standard. Oeko-Tex labels and certificates confirm the human-ecological safety of textile products and leather articles from all stages of production (raw materials and fibers, yarns, fabrics, ready-to-use end products) along the textile value chain. Some also attest to socially and environmentally sound conditions in production facilities.
How do you come up with ideas for new collections? From where do you draw your inspiration?
I travel to see places. Mostly modern architecture inspires me. I use my own signature style such as oversized and structural shapes but comfortable to wear with light weight fabrics. The main color is white.
You recently had a project with Takashimaya, how was that experience for you? And how did a new brand such as yours get that opportunity so early in your career?
Takashimaya is a well-known luxury department store. To be invited into their store, especially on the international brand floor to sell with other brands like DVF, Versace, Moschino, Just Cavalli and Victoria Beckham, is not an easy step for a new emerging designer like me. However, it’s not about how new or how long I have been in the industry. It’s really about what my brand can bring to their store in terms of the images and what they will do to support my brand internationally. It’s good to break the rules sometimes to get your new designer label into such a well-known department store.
What advice do you have for other young emerging designers hoping to start their own brand?
Be ready for many business negotiations and the workload. When we are in the real world, it’s not about drawing a beautiful dress on paper anymore. It’s really about how to create and keep managing the cash flow. Also, managing human resources is another big topic.
What’s next for TAILE?
It’s a secret for now! But more trade shows, fashion weeks, and a store opening end 2019.
Michelle Alleyne, Fashion Strategist/Professor, IG @mshopnyc
Sandra Roy, Social Work Grad Student, IG @altruistic9
Model: Quỳnh Anh @Nomad Wearing TAILE S/S 2019
Photo: Volya Belousova
Creative Director: Chaodi Xu
Stylist: Anastasia Rastorgova