As Creative Director and Co-Founder of his eponymous label, Phillip Lim sits at the helm of a now 14-year-old pioneering modern luxury brand.
Lim was born in Thailand in 1973 to Chinese immigrants who fled to Southern California to escape Cambodia’s civil war. Upon arriving in California, his mother found work as a seamstress and his father became a professional poker player. Lim studied finance at California State University Long Beach, but after 3 years, switched his focus to a degree in home economics.
A weekend job at Barneys Beverly Hills led to an internship with Katayone Adeli, and eventually, a position on her design team. When Adeli relocated to New York, Lim remained in Los Angeles and co-founded his first label, Development. After four years at Development, Lim relocated to New York to launch 3.1 Phillip Lim, his most personal collection to date, with business partner and friend, Wen Zhou.
Lim is recognized as one of the most talented and successful young American designers and is the recipient of several prestigious industry honors including the Fashion Group International’s Women’s Designer ‘Rising Star’ Award, the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear, the CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear, and the CFDA Award for Accessories Designer of the Year.
Wen Zhou serves as President and CEO of 3.1 Phillip Lim, the company she co-founded together with Phillip Lim in 2005. Zhou spent her childhood in Ningbo, China, and arrived in New York City at the age of 12, settling with her family in Chinatown. She spoke no English, but possessed a challenger spirit, a love of fashion handed down from her mother – a seamstress – and an entrepreneurial drive to succeed, all of which informed her future success as a business leader and entrepreneur.
By the age of 26, she had founded a fabric selling company and an offshore clothing production company. Later, through a fateful meeting in Paris, Zhou met Phillip Lim, who was himself prepared for his next design endeavor. The two went on to form a partnership, and in the Fall of 2005, launched 3.1 Phillip Lim. They were both 31 years old at the time.
As the brand looks ahead to its 15-year anniversary in 2020, their partnership remains one of the most fruitful and successful ones in American fashion. The company’s vision of cool, easy, chic wardrobe essentials for today’s global citizen has become synonymous with an understated modern luxury, while reflecting the brand’s and founders’ core values in all aspects of the business. A commitment to social values and sustainability has become increasingly important to the brand narrative, both as a way of connecting with customers and creating long lasting positive impact industry-wide. The brand’s ethos of ‘sustainable balance’ stems from the belief that sustainability is about balance, not perfection, and that in taking small steps, we can all reduce our environmental impact while sustaining creativity and humanity in our workplace.
As President and CEO, Zhou has grown 3.1 Phillip Lim into a global fashion brand offering womenswear, menswear, footwear and accessories. She has been recognized for her leadership and business acumen in such publications as The Business of Fashion, WWD, Vogue, and several international titles.
In 2019, she launched i-see, an online platform that seeks to create a community to unite and inspire Asian American women like herself. Zhou is proud to serve on the Board of Directors for the Nest organization, New Yorkers for Children and Apex for Youth.
She juggles the roles of CEO, business partner and friend, with her most important job – being a mother to her two children, Ming and Zen.