How Did I Get Here?

Derek Lam

  • Education
  • St. Ignatius College Preparatory, San Francisco, class of 1984
  • Boston College, 1984–85
  • Parsons School of Design, New York, class of 1990
  • Work Experience
  • 1990–94
    Junior designer, head designer, Michael Kors
  • 1994–98
    Design director, G2000
  • 1998–2002
    Design director, Michael Kors
  • 2006–11
    Creative director, Tod’s
  • 2002–Present
    Co-founder and designer, Derek Lam
  • Life Lessons
  • “Have a Teflon shield to withstand the negative.”
  • “Be in control of what you make and produce.”
  • “I did a year and a half at Boston College. I was studying business and history and realized I wanted to pursue an artistic career.”
  • With partner and co-founder Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann, 2003
  • “It was fast fashion in Hong Kong. I got to know my roots and enjoy life outside of New York.”
  • Anna Wintour at a Derek Lam fashion show, 2004
    “I was traveling a lot and also doing Derek Lam, but the exposure to a large luxury company and a worldwide audience were both great benefits.”
  • Gwyneth Paltrow in a Tod’s ad campaign, spring 2008
  • “We did our first runway show in 2003 and launched a spring collection in 2004. This month we’re launching a new fragrance line and relaunching our Derek Lam Collection shoe business—so, keeping busy.”
  • “My father was one of the early American businessmen to go to China—he imported fabric and embroidered goods. My mother worked with him.”
  • A sketch for Michael Kors, 1994
    “I learned what it means to be a designer, what it takes, and ultimately that I love it.”
  • With Amy Adams for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition, 2005
  • Kors
    “I ran into Michael Kors’s partner, Lance LePere, on Seventh Avenue, and he told me to come up and see Michael. He offered me a job. Only in New York.”