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Lim’s Breaking Development

NEW YORK — Phillip Lim has left the Los Angeles-based company Development to move to New York and launch his own label, 3.1.<BR><BR>“As a designer, you just can’t help but face the fact that you have to come out here,” Lim said...

NEW YORK — Phillip Lim has left the Los Angeles-based company Development to move to New York and launch his own label, 3.1.

“As a designer, you just can’t help but face the fact that you have to come out here,” Lim said from his office in New York’s Garment District — “The 10018,” the Orange County native offered. “Maybe I could have started this new label in Los Angeles, but something innately just pushed me this way.” Lim’s showroom is here in SoHo.

Lim, 31, began his career as a design assistant at Katayone Adeli and launched his first collection with  Development in 2000. He chalks his departure from Development up to what he calls “a difference of vision.”

“It became a tug of war,” he said. “A constant struggle back and forth between me and my former partners at Development.” 

So, with a new coast comes a new clothing line, which is slated to debut during New York’s Fashion Week in fall 2005.

“It is a very personal collection that is a reflection of where I am personally and professionally,” said Lim. “I’m taking it back to what I feel is very natural.”

Lim said 3.1 will feature natural colors and sophisticated pieces such as suits, blouses, and knits, targeting the urban professional woman who’s on a search to discover herself. This collection, Lim thinks, picks up where the more carefree, California-influenced Development left off.

“3.1 is a bit more sophisticated and refined than Development,” he said. “I’m taking the Development client on the next adventure.” The collection wholesales between $58 and $448 and will be produced in New York and Hong Kong. Accessories for the collection will be produced in Italy.

 The collection is financially backed by his business partner, Wen Zhou, also 31. Lim predicts 3.1’s wholesale volume will reach $5 million in its first year.

 “I feel that clothes now are just so outspoken and loud,” he said. “I want to make a more polished dialogue. For instance, I’m doing a black trench, but adding touches that feel deep, like Old-World stitching. Every time you wear it, you’ll discover something.” The collection will feature a number of pieces that are handmade and and hand-finished.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I want to add a lot of touches that you really don’t see nowadays in the mass market,” he said.

Lim, humbly, admits to a few jitters.

“With this collection, I’m literally starting at ground zero,” he said. “Naturally, in this industry and being human, you feel pressure, and I’m sure people are waiting to see if it’s bad or wonder if I’ll make it out here,” he said.

But he’s optimistic. After all, stores like Fred Segal, Traffic and Barneys New York have bought his pieces — sight unseen.

The collection, obviously, is named 3.1 to reflect his and Zhou’s age.

“It’s the age where I’ve shed my skin,” said Lim.