INTERVIEW: PETER DO, DESIGNER
words by JVB • Fashion
"My collections are for women who live in their clothes. Women who have jobs and children, who appreciate fabrics and quality...I want my patrons to feel confident in their clothes..."
Peter Do is a young visionary. With a team consisting of old friends, his ethos of design is simply real clothing for real women, worn in real-life situations. “Considered, tailored. But fun”. His words exactly. And as a lover of his collections, I would feel inclined to use much the same language. So enthralled by his ethic to work and vision, I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to let Peter Do share his brand beginnings with JVB.
Julia von Boehm: How did you get into the fashion industry?
Peter Do: In High School, there was a competition that encouraged students to create clothing out of unconventional materials. I enjoyed it so much I decided to shift my focus to fashion design when applying for schools.
JVB: Did you always know you wanted to be in fashion?
PD: Actually, I wanted to be a comic book artist.
JVB: I was drawn to you when I saw that we are both immigrants who grew up abroad, started our careers overseas and now are both working in New York. How has your upbringing and journey in fashion influenced your perspective on fashion?
PD: I think my time in various countries gave me a better understanding on how culture reacts to clothes. When I lived in Europe, I hardly ever wore black, but now that I’m back in New York, it’s the only color I wear. My collections are definitely influenced by my time abroad, but we’re still a New York brand. We always start with a baseline of black and white and add colors to further the story of the season.
JVB: You’re only 27-years-old but you have experienced so much in this industry already, from working under Phoebe Philo at Celine, to then going to Derek Lam. What did you learn from watching their approach to design?
PD: Phoebe taught me a lot about the nuances of design and importance of experimentation. Derek taught me a holistic approach to running a brand, as you have to be involved in all facets of the company when it’s your own. Both experiences were invaluable, and definitely gave me a great foundation for starting my own brand.
JVB: You seem very assured of yourself for someone so young. I definitely wasn’t so put together at your age! Where do you get that inner strength from?
PD: Thank you! I’ve realized that the older I get, the less I know, and in many ways, I still feel like a kid. I’m fortunate enough to work with my friends. We’ve all known each other for years before we started this brand, so they’re able to support me and also keep me grounded.
JVB: Your label made waves in the industry before it even hit the one-year mark. How has that made you feel?
PD: Honestly, it’s been a whirlwind! As such a young brand we’re still just trying to get our bearings straight, but nevertheless I’m elated to see that so many people resonate with my vision. As a designer, it’s incredibly rewarding to see your clothes worn by real women. However, it’s been frustrating to see our clothes knocked off already, but I’m flattered that people think our designs are worth the imitation.
JVB: How would you describe your aesthetic?
PD: Considered and tailored, but fun.
JVB: Where do you look to get inspiration for your collections?
PD: Everywhere. I’ve drawn inspiration from galleries, stories, my friends, and even Netflix. These are the elements of our culture today, and it’s the most poignant because I am living in it.
JVB: In an interview with Business of Fashion, you said that you make “real clothes for real women.” Can you tell me a little bit about that?
PD: My collections are for women who live in their clothes. Women who have jobs and children, who appreciate fabrics and quality, but who do not have a glam squad at their disposal. I want my patrons to feel confident in their clothes, but not have to sacrifice comfort and practicality.
JVB: You sent your first collection down the runway during the Spring/Summer 2019 collection. What was that experience like?
PD: It was crazy, but I learned a lot. We didn’t actually have a runway, just a makeshift showroom. It was just me and 5 friends. None of us had ever hosted a sales campaign before. We had rented some racks and set them up in a friend’s living room in Paris. We had only one confirmed appointment at the beginning of that week and hoped for the best. Word got out pretty quickly, and we ended the week with 30 appointments, and 8 confirmed partners including Dover Street Market Ginza and Net-A-Porter.
JVB: What do you want people to take away from your work?
PD: I often design by styling different combinations of garments and I want people to be inspired to try new combinations with my pieces. A lot of my collections are designed to blend seamlessly into an existing wardrobe, and the ability for a woman to incorporate and create something new for herself is something I’m very interested in.
JVB: Can you give us a little tease about what you have in the works for future collections?
PD: I don’t even know what I’m eating for dinner yet, let alone my next collection.
JVB: What do you hope to accomplish with your brand over the next five years?
PD: I’d like to stage a runway show, and eventually open a Peter Do boutique. It would be great to fully immerse my patrons in a world of Peter Do, complete with my own visual language.
JVB: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
PD: My team and I talk about this all the time – what we will do after fashion. Maybe open up a café? I’m not sure yet, in all honesty. Ultimately, I hope to start a conversation in a visual language that will be continued with new emerging talent.
JVB: Is there anything else you would like to share?
PD: I can’t wait to see what happens next! But I hope my patrons will continue with me on this journey wherever it leads.