Fashion student Nguyen Trung The Phiet has all qualities that top designer Li Lam could ask of an intern at her flagship boutique on Mac Thi Buoi Street, Ho Chi Minh City.
Phiet, a Bachelor of Fashion (Merchandising Management) student, is stylish, confident, passionate and brand-oriented – features he has gained from studying at RMIT Vietnam, which is considered by industry as the country’s only university teaching students how to use business skills to take designs from the sketchbook to the marketplace.
This business acumen is what appeals to Lam, who is known for her simple designs with subtle cuts and unique patterns on long-lace dresses and kimono-inspired overcoats and often adorning several local celebrities, including singer Toc Tien and actress Do Hai Yen.
Phiet, who gained his first insight into the industry through field trips to fashion hubs and events in Melbourne, Singapore, and Hong Kong, didn’t miss the opportunity to impress Lam during a recent fashion guest lecture at RMIT Vietnam Saigon South.
“I asked Lam when she will release her first menswear collection, which could have been considered an irrelevant topic as she has so far made herself an exclusive designer for women,” Phiet said.
To his surprise, she replied by asking if he knows about visual merchandising, such as retail store displays, and if he wanted to work at her 250-square-metre store, which opened late October.
Phiet jumped at the offer of the internship with Lam, an opportunity at the envy of many other young fashion enthusiasts.
Lam did not only ask Phiet to help with store display but also appointed him one of her assistants during Vietnam’s first International Fashion Week held during early December in Ho Chi Minh City.
During the week, Lam’s designs were featured on the runway with her show “Everything will be Alright.”
As a store designer or assistant, Phiet continues to impress and he was involved in the design of two pieces as part of Lam’s recent collection.
The most important thing he has achieved from working at both the retail store and during fashion week has been to learn how to balance business and design skills in brand promotion and retailing.
“Instead of focusing on just design and promotions, Lam spends more time on customer service and building her brand,” said Phiet.
Being professional in preparing and presenting a design collection as part of an international fashion brand is another significant learning for Phiet.
Lam said the opportunity for her collection to be showcased together with well-known international and local brands comes from many years of hard-work.
“I can see a career for Phiet in the industry, as long as he maintains his passion and commitment to work hard,” Lam said.
Phiet’s plan after graduation is to gain international experience working in fashion in New York City before coming back to Vietnam and establishing his own brand.
In the meantime, his priorities are festive decorations for Lam’s store and the launch of her next light t-shirt line.