Michael Ngo is a rising star in the EDGE [emerging designer] community. We last connected with him in March when he launched his first fashion show, LA Fashion Council [LAFC] | LA Fashion Week. Seven months later he has presented his latest collection, SOVEREIGNS OF THE SΣΛ, at Art Hearts Fashion Los Angeles.
Once again, Michael validates his ability to design and present a cohesive capsule, story, and point of view. In this complete body of work, Michael debuts his menswear collection.
Congratulations, Michael, on your Art Hearts Fashion show in LA? What’s it like to have 2 great back to back shows under your belt and how different was this experience compared to LA Fashion Council?
Thank you Rhonda! It’s an amazing feeling to show two LAFW seasons back to back. I’ve grown so much since the last show and I’ve really pushed my boundaries with this new runway collection. It was an honor to be able showcase my complete runway vision—the collection, the music, the backdrop visuals, the fashion film and the performance—on a major platform such as Art Hearts Fashion.
The LA Fashion Council was really intimate and really helped me emerge as a designer in LA, but Art Hearts Fashion truly allowed me to manifest my creativity on a larger scale; which is how I really envisioned my runway shows to be. I often compare my runways to the album release or a movie premier; so much design, work, and planning goes into it and it’s meant to be enjoyed as a complete body work and a production like Art Hearts Fashion truly is the perfect vessel for bringing my creativity to life.
With all the investment in time, not only to design, show, and sell your collection, does the fashion show give you what you want as a means of exposure? Does it meet your expectation in building brand awareness, orders from retailers, or another objective that you may have?
Yes, the runway show—especially on a branded platform like Art Hearts Fashion—does in fact give me what I looking for in terms of exposure and creating brand awareness on two different levels.
The first level of exposure comes from the immediate unveiling of the collection during the show while influential stylists, buyers, celebrities, industry professionals and press are seated first and second row. They will experience the collection first hand and will be able to report to their respective fields and for most of them this will be their first peek at MICHAEL NGO so that first impression is very important.
The second level of exposure is post-show press and follow-up—this requires a little more work but is crucial in creating longevity for the collection and the brand. Working with Art Hearts Fashion, I really learned the importance of having the right production and right models to generate impactful media that will sell the brand and the collection post-show. After the show is over my team and I will compile the runway video and all the photos to put a runway look book and press kit together to send out to influential individuals and potential buyers that weren’t at the show. So yes, putting on a fashion show does give me the type of exposure I’m looking for to build my brand, but it definitely involves a lot of post-show work to keep that exposure up.
Let’s talk about the business of building a fashion brand. How are you finding developing your brand on a day to day basis? What are you learning, what are you needing to get the business done, and how are you leveraging the positive experiences while overcoming the challenges?
Developing my brand as an actual business has been challenging seeing as I’m still in the start-up stages; but building the MICHAEL NGO brand based on day-to-day branding has been an overall positive experience. Even before my debut show with LAFC, I’ve been growing my brand by continually creating a specific image and an aesthetic that allows for my work to be easily identified. One area this has proven to be successful in building a fashion brand is entertainment orders and custom garments. I’ve worked with several artists, entertainment and wardrobe stylists that come specifically to me to design a commission for them or their client because they’ve seen my work and know that it would be a good fit for their project.
One thing I’ve discovered is that you can’t please everyone and that sometimes you just have to say “No”—all personal feelings aside. Building a brand is definitely a business and I’m learning that in order to grow and be successful we have to do what’s best for the brand and to honor the hard work that’s been put into creating it.
Another lesson I’ve learned is that its so important to create strong relationship and to develop a strong network of professionals you can turn to for advice or support and know that they truly have the best interest for you and your brand. Building those relationships are like partnerships that will help strengthen your business, brand and network of collaborators.
How is social media in building your brand – such as its use in strategic marketing, gaining customers [retailers or consumers], the value of time spent on it, etc.?
Like building interpersonal connections with colleagues, professionals, and clients, it’s also critical to have a strong social media presence in building a brand—especially in our tech-savvy society with the highest rate of consumerism in history. Like I mentioned before, the MICHAEL NGO brand is still starting up as a business, but I’ve really taken advantage of social media to promote the new runway collection by collaborating with artists and talents that have clout to expand my network and gain followers; to market my work and designs that are for sale and for custom order; and lastly to build a personal relationship with the following I already have through constant interaction and communication—verbal and visual.
Building that unique relationship between my supporters and myself is what I value the most; without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m humbled and grateful that most of my supporters have been following me through my creative and artistic journey since I first enrolled in design school. To hear them say that they’re proud of my work and what MICHAEL NGO has become really means the world to me and knowing that I have their strong support makes me a more fearless and confident designer. I can’t wait to take them to the next level with me!
Michael, you are great with storytelling, themes, and concepts in developing your line. Do you have any thoughts on the future of fashion? Where do you think fashion is going or where it should go?
Thank you Rhonda, I really appreciate that. I truly invest a lot in creating an entire story and fantasy for my collections as well as doing everything in my power to bring that vision to life—it’s my form of artistic expression and I’m glad it shows. With that said, I can’t predict the future of fashion but I can say that as long as there is art and creativity; there will always be many forms and genres of fashion. Just as our society and the world are becoming more and more open to new ideas and beliefs; I know that our future fashions will reflect that growth and will have blurred lines across all genres—especially what’s considered masculine and feminine. I’m very excited to see what lies ahead for the future of fashion and I would be honored to help contribute in what’s to become of fashion.
EDGE congratulates you, Michael Ngo, on your journey so far and extends continued success for the future!
Photography: Jason Young | jeighseauxn.com