Known for upscale, contemporary women’s fashion, Derek Lam’s eponymous line has always invoked relaxed yet elegant vibes since its establishment in 2003. Eight years later, his diffusion line, Derek Lam 10 Crosby, has continued the unpretentious, sporty vibe as a lower-priced, casual brand named after a former office address in Soho, New York.
A native San Franciscan, Lam spent six months studying art at the Academy of Art University and soon found himself at the Parsons School of Design in New York. He joined Michael Kors upon graduation and struck out on his own when he began to feel unsatisfied with the lack of design autonomy. With his real-life partner, Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann as CEO and Lam taking the role of lead designer, the pair established the company in 2003. Retailers such as Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, and Barneys quickly snapped up his first collections. Soon, Lam became known for his use of neutral colors, soft leathers, and patched fabrics. In 2005, he won the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of American (CFDA) Swarovski Perry Ellis Award for womenswear. He also served as Tod’s Creative Director for the brand’s ready-to-wear line from 2005 through 2010.