A 10 000 kilometer-boulevard, that’s what separates and reunites Paris and Ho Chi Minh City. Our cover girls Linda and Florence just made their way with it, drawing new concepts and trends.
Lindais the designer-founder of her own fashion label: Linda Mai Phung. Florence is her partner in the adventure. Here’s their story.
– France – Vietnam, what a trajectory, what brought you here in Ho Chi Minh City?
Florence: I came to settle in Saigon in January 2010 to learn the language of my ancestors and find a job. I was there for other reasons: I love the vibrancy of the city and the opportunities it offers. I love the openness of the people I work with and their entrepreneurial spirit.
Linda: Being of French Vietnamese background, I grew up in the Paris suburbs and have always been intrigued by my heritage. The idea of doing a strength and an asset in my personal and professional life grew rapidly after several discovery trips to Vietnam. Then when I really found out about the richness of vietnamese craftsmanship and expertise, it became obvious that I had to combine my passion for fashion, and move to this city.
Ho Chi Minh City is the land where everything is possible: there is a strong DIY spirit in in Saigon. With little means but a good environment, we manage to get his little mobile carriage of banh mi to earn a little money or create a trendy coffee with friends in an old family house.
Also, 50% of the population here is under 30, so that it is dynamic and that projects spring up everywhere. Basing my label here has not been easy, but the environment was exciting with authenticity and forward-looking people whereas it would have been difficult to build it up financially in Europe .
VQ (UPDATE): Actually this week, creative minds collided. Linda and Marilou, a french artist on a short journey in Ho Chi Minh teamed up to draw a typical vietnamese house to be tattooed. Here’s how it went:
– What are your projects?
F&L: We have showcased our new collection at l’Usine yesterday, L’Usine is the new trendy creative spot in Ho Chi Minh City. Now we’re trying to push the brands further : we’re travelling to Japan and China soon for business… and inspiration!
– Now that trends collide online, what would you say about trends dynamics between Europe and Asia? How would that impact on your brands development?
L: In Asia, European designers are still considered very qualitative and creative. In Europe, we do not give enough consideration to the Asian creative scene, it is still seen through the clichés and stereotypes when there are many designers who offer innovative things.
When I show my creations in Saigon, it is often said that LMP has a chic French style. When I show them in Paris, I’m told that it is very influenced by Asian culture … I think that right now, in a rather unstable socio-economic times, fashion industry likes to reassure itself by putting designers in categories although it would be a bit archaic.
I like to say that the concept of our brand represents a new generation of young optimistic people who love creating, travelling and who are aware and responsible for the world in which they live. There may even be a marketing name to define this group of people: the neo-nomadic eco-happy people? The NNEH,:). (Note: we experts will brainstorm about this and get back to you asap, ok?)
As I started LMP, social networks have allowed me to build brand awareness quickly enough. As I live and work mostly in Asia, it has allowed me to reach out and keep in touch with my clients in Europe.
Also, I could always keep an eye on trends in France and in Europe, and I draw half of my inspirations from there. It is thanks to the internet that LMP is still working today and this global and participative principle has been decisive. Social media allowed me to transmit and communicate the history and image of the brand very quickly.
F&L: It’s a deep question (thanks), let’s have dinner in a fusion restaurant to talk it out!
– So where boulevard wanderers should stop by in the neighbourhood?
In Ho Chi Minh:
Fooding: bun cha gio on Dong Khoi, Hu Tieu at Tan Dinh market and Quan Nem for fried spring rolls.
Partying: Decibel, Broma, Cargo!
Shopping: Cho Ba Chieu Vintage Market, L’Usine and Saigon Square
– Do you miss anything from France?
F: Smooth core cheese! And live shows, music, theatre…
L: Family, friends and good old croissants.
/// Linda Mai Phung – all pictures here.