Chinese American Fashion Designer Phillip Lim

The fashion industry is no stranger to the Asian American talents. From being supermodels, certified fashionistas, and creative designers, we surely have something to offer. With all the successful AAPI names in the industry, fashion designer Phillip Lim has got to be one of those to have a truly inspirational story. Uncover one of the minds behind the 3.1 Phillip Lim brand that sold 50 million dollars' worth of clothing in just the span of two years.

Born on September 16, 1973, Chinese-descent Phillip Lim had a fair share of hardships in life. His parents immigrated to California from Thailand following the tragic event of the Cambodian Genocide. At the time Lim was born, having a white-collar job specifically being a lawyer, engineer, and doctor, is what elders, especially in Asian households, considered to be a successful and meaningful career. Unfortunately, this was the same mindset that Lim’s parents have but he decided to walk the path of his own and started taking up business and economics.

Settling as a fashion designer is not what Philip Lim has planned. He actually spent three years studying finance until he decided to do home economics instead. Eventually, he stumbled upon the name Katayone Adeli who opened his career path to the fashion industry. He landed an internship with her team and eventually earned a position in the design team. Maybe this was destined to happen all along having said that Lim’s mother was a seamstress, and he also owned several boutiques before coming up to the decision that he wanted to pursue fashion design.

In the year 2005, Lim with his business partner and friend Wen Zhou decided to start 3.1 Phillip Lim, a collection of tailored coats, dresses, jackets, and other pieces exuding femininity, confidence, and elegance. This line has given him a nomination for the Vogue Fashion Fund and an award for Emerging Talents in Women’s wear from the Council of Fashion Designers in America (CFDA). His momentum continued and he received the prestigious Swarovski Award by CFDA in the year 2012 and collaborated with the retail store Target in the following year. Lim’s work also earned a lot of recognition and praise from Nichole Phelps and Vogue Magazine.

Amidst the limelight he receives from the fashion industry, the designer still remains to value the little things in life. He appreciates his morning coffee accompanied by cuddles from his dog Oliver. Reading and listening to music. Taking a stroll or two. Enjoying gardening with his flowers and plants on his humble abode. The designer’s huge success, influence, and popularity have not made him forget his humble beginnings. And that, for me, is what success really is.

Written by: Monina Antonio


Monina Antonio is a digital marketing intern of PS Media Enterprise. She is currently a 4th year Broadcasting student from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines- Sta. Mesa.


A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
based in California that advocates
social inclusion of minorities with
Asian heritage though cultural awareness.


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Chinese American Fashion Designer Phillip Lim
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