Two Up-And-Coming Vietnamese Fashion Designers Tran Xia and Tri Dong Phong Introduce Us To Their Work

Young designers like Tran Xia and Tri Dong Phong are already turning heads with their designs and startup brands. This month, to celebrate diversity in Vietnam, we asked guest editor Sweet Valentien to pick people for The Dot Magazine to talk to. And Tien immediately picked these two for us to interview. 

Đọc bài viết bằng tiếng Việt

Vietnamese fashion designers are breaking out. From industry leaders like Cong Tri to younger upstarts like Lam Gia Khang and his chic GIA STUDIOS, to Tom Trandt’s edgy, Japanese-accented designs. And hot on their heels are a new generation of young designers. People like Tran Xia and Tri Dong Phong were introduced by Tien.

Van Lang University’s design school is incubating lots of hot talent. Both Tran Xia and Tri Dong Phong study there.

Tran Xia is a 3rd year fashion design student at Van Lang University. But already her expressive designs burst with creativity. “I just do what I enjoy,” the young designer begins. “After three years of study, I feel like my aesthetic has developed a lot – I know what I like and I try to incorporate my style into any project or designs I do.” For Tran Xia, that often means bright pink and white elements, and lots of details like beads and brocade. 

Tri Dong Phong is a final year student. “I’d say my style is romantic, and occasionally surrealist,” the young designer explains. Already, he’s kick-started his own label – DAS LA VIE. “The name means ‘in life’ and the message we’re bringing is that the simple things in life are the most valuable, and that there’s beauty in everything,”  Tri Dong Phong adds. 

QÂ new generation of young designers – Tran Xia and Tri Dong Phong.

Can you pick a favorite design you’ve created and tell us about it?

Tran Xia: Of my own designs, I think right now I’m most in love with my ‘Limited Edition Barbie’ project. I really enjoyed the journey, from researching and exploring the topic, to sourcing fabrics, cutting and creating forms, and tailoring. 

Tri Dong Phong: I’m going to pick my ‘Con Cong Phung’ collection. I took inspiration from the quilts our grandparents would use. I used the same patterns from those quilts, which reflects my philosophy of making everyday things extraordinary. 

I’m always on the lookout for simple things from Vietnam that I can incorporate into my work, like the quilts I just mentioned”

How do you get inspired?

Tran Xia: It comes from everything around me. People, emotions, all that stuff.

Tri Dong Phong: I’m always on the lookout for simple things from Vietnam that I can incorporate into my work, like the quilts I just mentioned. That allows me to make work that is really personal, and that reflects my culture. It wasn’t always like that. Back when I first started designing, I always tried to find inspiration from Europe and America. But gradually it dawned on me that we have this rich culture and resources to draw upon for inspiration. That helped me to create projects like my graduation work inspired by the damselfly. 

Of my own designs, I think right now I’m most in love with my ‘Limited Edition Barbie’ project”

What first drew you to the fashion industry?

Tri Dong Phong: It’s an all-consuming passion. Fashion is something that surrounds us every day, and I just wanted to dive in and be a part of creating it.

Tran Xia: I’ve always loved fashion too, even as a kid. And since then my passion has grown each day. When I entered high school, I discovered places to learn more after graduation. That’s how I ended up at Van Lang University. Honestly? I don’t think I could do anything else. I’m going to pursue fashion until the very end. 

I’m going to pick my ‘Con Cong Phung’ collection. I took inspiration from the quilts our grandparents would use”

How do you think the fashion industry in Vietnam compares to the rest of the world right now?

Tran Xia: From my perspective, it feels really vibrant. There’s so many young designers coming though. And I think that’s contributing to the development of the industry as a whole. 

Tri Dong Phong: Right, young designers are definitely adding to the richness of the industry in Vietnam right now.

The collections are inspired by Vietnam such as construction works, canvas covers, peacocks and lotus.

Gender norms are especially prevalent in the fashion industry. How do you feel about that?

Tran Xia: As an artist, I guess my perspective is different from most people. For me, standards are something for us to follow, if we choose to. It’s not a rule. I think the expectations upon men and women about what or who they should be feel pretty outdated these days. 

“I think the expectations upon men and women about what or who they should be feel pretty outdated these days.”

Tri Dong Phong: But I think fashion has often challenged pre-conceptions. Even big brands like Thom Browne, Gucci and Raf Simons have introduced women’s clothing to men. Even Coco Chanel had women wearing men’s clothing. Following that example, we shouldn’t be so strict. Fashion shouldn’t discriminate between the genders. 

Fashion shouldn’t discriminate between the genders. 

As two young and up-and-coming designers, where do you see yourselves in five years?

Tri Dong Phong: I want to continue my studies, and take a master’s degree in applied arts. As I do so, I’ll continue with my brand and other fashion projects…

Tran Xia: Of course, I only see myself in the fashion industry. In the short term, I need to graduate! But as I do so I want to gather as much knowledge and experience as possible to help propel me into the industry. In five years, I also want to be able to look back and be proud of what I’ve done.


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