Sustainability was at the core of Van Hoang’s designs before she became aware of her desire to make it the foundation of her line. As an 8-year-old, she used leftover fabric to craft a gown for her Ariel doll, and her interest in design never waned. After earning her bachelor's degree in fashion design and merchandising at O’More College of Design, she became aware of the waste and oppressive labor practices in the fashion industry. This prompted her to pursue a master's in design for sustainability at The Savannah College of Art and Design and later attend the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, providing her with the knowledge to do what she loves in a more responsible and ethical way.
Van’s understanding of sustainability, fashion and technology and how they can work together allows her to approach the whole system in a holistic way and see where positive changes can be made in the process. She also believes clothing is a powerful tool that can make the wearer feel empowered, happy, confident or anything she wants. The result is pieces that are modern, yet timeless, versatile and functional, while revolutionizing the fashion industry one small step at a time.
I would say my style is classic with an eclectic twist thrown in every once in a while. I like to have at least one interesting, standout piece for an outfit, whether it’s a shoe or a coat. I think fashion is something everyone should be able to have fun with and not take too seriously. Trends come and go, so wear whatever makes you feel good!
I don’t think I have a particular dream client in mind; it’s just cool to see anyone wearing my designs! My goal isn’t to design for celebrities or superstars. I want my clothes to be able to be worn by anyone and in everyday life, as well as special occasions. The more people are able to invest in sustainable clothing and turn away from fast fashion is a win for me.
Going to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit had been on my bucket list, so when I was able to go using my Nashville Fashion Forward Fund award, it was super-exciting! I wanted to go and learn more about sustainability in the fashion industry from leaders in the field, whether they were part of huge companies or small startups. It was really inspiring to hear others in the industry discuss the issues and proposed solutions and to meet with like-minded [people] in the industry.
The hardest part of my job is probably balancing business needs with creative needs. Sometimes, I struggle with what I want to design and create but then thinking about it from the business perspective. I have to ask myself, "Is this an item that people will buy and want to wear, or do I just want to make it for my own sake?" I started out very idealistic, thinking I could just be creative and everything would work out, but realistically, you have to find a balance between the two, because you can’t run a business if no one is buying your product.
THE VAN HOANG CLIENT
Our dream customer is a creative, a dreamer, an activist, a mother, a daughter, a leader. They are an independent and free spirit with a fearless sense of adventure. They have a strong sense of self, big dreams and conviction to achieve them. They don’t let barriers stand in their way, they overcome them and use them to make them stronger. They follow their own path and don't follow trends. They appreciate quality over quantity and value craftsmanship. They view clothing as an extension of themselves as well as a form of expression and empowerment.
IN THE WORKS
I’m currently working on a capsule collection called the Comfort Collection, and it is what it sounds like. It’ll be a couple pieces that can be worn at home or running errands but still look presentable for a Zoom call. I think, after the past year, we’ve all started looking for and seen the need for those items.
I really love Alabama Chanin. Natalie Chanin is the designer who really inspired me to look more into sustainable fashion and see that things can be done differently. She was able to revive craftsmanship, tap into local talent and bring a boost to the local economy. That’s something I’d like to do here in Nashville. I also love Christian Siriano for his body positive [and] inclusive designs, Brandon Maxwell for his clean but interesting silhouettes, and Valentino for the incredible creativity and craftsmanship in each collection for the past couple of years.
I think Kacey Musgraves kills it every time on the red carpet. Elaine Welteroth always looks polished, but she has fun with fashion. Harry Styles wears what he wants and has fun with it, regardless of society’s expectations. Michelle Obama always dresses perfectly for any occasion while also supporting U.S. designers.
I’d like to expand my brand to be a lifestyle brand. Last year, I dipped my toe into that by offering reusable masks and reusable grocery bags. So this year, I’m also looking to see what other items I can offer to create a sustainable lifestyle brand and exploring collaborations with other like-minded people.