3.1 Phillip Lim

I created a brand ecosystem to expand 3.1 Phillip Lim's product offerings beyond just fashion and into lifestyle.
CONTEXT
Independent Masters Thesis
DATE
Sep - Dec 2020
TOOLS
Figma, Principle, Adobe Photoshop, Cinema 4D
Team
Solo Project
role
UX/UI Designer, Interaction Designer, Strategist
skills
Strategy, UX/UI, Prototyping, Interaction Design, Experiential Marketing

Challenge

No industry was left untouched by the effects of COVID-19. The fashion industry was hit hard, with small, mid-tier brands like 3.1 Phillip Lim needing to streamline efforts between their physical and digital properties.

Opportunity

As an individual, Phillip encompasses so many different worlds, from architecture to cooking. He's practically a brand unto himself. How might we incorporate Phillip's personal passions into our core identity to create a more authentic brand experience?

Target

Demographic: mid-20s to late-30s, income $100K+
Primary countries: United States
Interests: High fashion, sustainability, diversity and racial equity, community engagement, creative fields (e.g. art, film, drama)

Solution

Create an all-encompassing program that unites 3.1 Phillip Lim's business and social efforts and can be easily accessed through both physical retail and digital properties.

jump to solution

Move from being a lifestyle-adjacent brand to a lifestyle brand.

3.1 Phillip Lim: A Philosophy of Sustainable Balance

3.1 Phillip Lim has been a beacon for the New York independent fashion scene for over a decade. Led by creative director Phillip Lim, the brand has led by example by approaching a new wave of fashion — one that is sustainable, ethical, and puts the customer at the heart of the experience. Lim leads by a philosophy he calls "sustainable balance" — referring to all parts of the fashion process from material sourcing to treatment of workers to the customer experience.

Since its inception, the company has promised products and experiences that support versatility, authenticity, and aspiration. Some examples of how they've done that include the following:

meet

Studio Day

A live public event showcasing new collections, forgoing traditional fashion show, chance to meet Phillip and team

Image source: Cultured Mag
live

Live Free

Released Nov 2020, showcased leisure wear perfect for pandemic era, hired inspirational activists, journalists, and musicians instead of regular models

Image source: 3.1 Phillip Lim
partner

Collaborations

Several projects have been launched to support causes including the Tougher Than Ever apparel collection with Ruba Abu-Nimah, mask collection for Apex for Youth, and More Than Our Bellies cookbook with Viviane Sassen

Image source: 3.1 Phillip Lim

Merging physical and digital, globally

To date, 3.1 Phillip Lim has eleven stores worldwide plus an official website and associated social media channels. However, the experience offered in physical spaces feels disjointed from the digital properties — an issue not exclusive just to 3.1 Phillip Lim. However in reviewing 3.1 Phillip Lim's owned properties, I denoted three main challenges that are making it harder to unite their channels.

Challenges
  • Lack of strong promotion of collaborations on web properties
  • Closed retail spaces in response to COVID and heavier reliance on e-commerce
  • Poor digital experience such as navigation, visual contrast, and accessibility

Introducing the 3.1 Salon

A 3.1 Phillip Lim initiative designed to foster the interaction between fashion, arts, and culture.

The concept of the 3.1 Salon is built off of the tradition of historical fashion salons that emerged during the golden age of fashion, helmed by magnates like Christian Dior and Coco Chanel — gatherings that united intellectual, artistic, and political contemporaries. In the modern era, the principle of sharing knowledge to create art and influence society hasn't changed; however, we have more tools at our disposal. In the case of 3.1 Phillip Lim, I wanted to consolidate all of the tools the brand is currently experimenting with and bring it under the umbrella of one single entity — the 3.1 Salon. The 3.1 Salon is broken up into four main components — people, retail, web, and community.

Introducing the 3.1 Society

The 3.1 Society is a coalition of 3.1 Phillip Lim's closest partners, collaborators, and friends. They form the collective of people who inspire us as creators and the work we produce.

society (n.): the aggregate of people who are fashionable, wealthy, and influential, regarded as forming a distinct group in a community

From "Tribe"...

My idea for the 3.1 Society is derived from 3.1 Phillip Lim's existing marketing and ambassador campaign called the 3.1 Tribe. The term "Tribe" is a contentious term due to its core definition in reference to Native communities, so I decided to change the term to one that is already well understood by the fashion community. I chose "Society" in reference to the influence of "high society" in fashion history, as well as to reflect the unifying element of modern society.

Elevating our partners

The 3.1 Society roster is featured on the 3.1 Phillip Lim official website, where visitors can view all the people the brand has worked with, their occupation, organization, and location they are based in. Each individual has a unique profile that includes a biography, cross-link to their official website, featured section showcasing collaborations, upcoming events, or thought pieces. Each profile also includes a section that showcases that Society Member's top picks that cross-link to the individual products.

The people who inspire us

For the release of the 3.1 Live Free collection in November 2020, Phillip Lim featured inspirational figures, including BLM leader and figure Livia Rose Johnson, musician and producer Donis.BK, and journalist Noor Taghouri, as models for the collection. To bring the 3.1 Society to life, I included these most recent figures as part of the collection to showcase how the brand can further elevate the people who they partner with.

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3.1 Salon Physical Events

The first element of retail strategy is the physical arm of the 3.1 Salon. Through 3.1 Salon, we can transform our current stores into multi-purpose studio spaces to host masterclasses, discussions, and workshops in collaboration with 3.1 Society members. These events would be first-come, first-serve with limited capacity to encourage safety and an intimate setting.

Transforming our retail spaces

At the end of every event, each participant will receive a code in their email inbox that will give them exclusive previews and discounts on the collection that they can redeem at the official website.

Funnel into digital

At the end of every event, each participant will receive a code in their email inbox that will give them exclusive previews and discounts on the collection that they can redeem at the official website.

3.1 Salon Digital

I created a dedicated space for the 3.1 Salon within the 31philliplim.com infrastructure. As a dedicated main tab in the menu navigation, the 3.1 Salon tab now becomes the home for any non-clothing/non-commerce related activity for the brand.  

The 3.1 Salon digital space contains five sub-tabs: latest news, 3.1 Society roster, upcoming events, side projects, and a lifestyle blog. Details are listed below.

💡 Click here to view full pages and annotations.

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Elevated design system

I kept the existing typeface, Avenir Next, but introduced more weights and sizes to create contrast.

Localized programming

Because each store caters to a unique and local demographic, the Salon events would also be localized per store. For example, the LA store events might focus topics around diversity in fashion and entertainment in Hollywood, bringing in Society members based in LA or existing partners such as Gold House and CAPE. This would also encourage each store to truly work on engaging with the local demographic as well as their neighbors to support local and small business.

Creating a virtual Salon

Not every 3.1 Phillip Lim fan is based in a large city with a physical store. In addition to the owned channels through the stores and through 3.1 Phillip Lim.com, I created concepts for creating an official YouTube channel to host public 3.1 Salon content along with the rest of the brand's marketing. Currently 3.1 Phillip Lim only has a Vimeo page with little to no engagement.

Understanding market health and industry trends
During the initial stage of research, I delved deep into industry reports by The Business of Fashion, McKinsey & Co., and conducted several in-depth interviews with production coordinators, stylists, and other industry experts to understand the scope of the situation.
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There is always opportunity to grow and to give back.

That is the biggest lesson I learned from diving into this brand and into this project. As an Asian-American, it is reassuring and motivating to see leaders like Phillip Lim unashamedly take charge of his industry and his craft. It gives me courage to perfect my own craft with the same diligence and find opportunity to use my skills for good.

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