Vietnamese Fashion Brand Gia Studios Is Crafting The Ultimate Minimalist Wardrobe

Based in Ho Chi Minh City, designer Lam Gia Khang tells us how he dresses the modern woman while keeping his cultural traditions alive
Gia Studios Spring/Summer 2024
Gia Studios Spring/Summer 2024

Here’s a luxury: being able to pull clothes from your wardrobe at random, put them on, and know, even without glancing at a mirror, that you look impeccable. That seems to be the promise of the clothes of Gia Studios. The Vietnamese fashion brand, founded by designer Lam Gia Khang in 2018, produces the kind of simple yet sophisticated garments that the modern woman, bombarded by the demands of a fast-paced life, dreams about. Lam knows intimately what a woman wants to wear: he descends from four generations of tailors, and he grew up watching his mother cut, sew and fit clothes to perfection for the women that visited his family’s tailor shop. 

Having inherited his mother’s eye for detail, Lam continued to hone his design skills—first, on the fashion reality television series Project Runway Vietnam in 2013, where he won third place, and later at the London College for Design and Fashion in Hanoi. Upon his graduation, he launched his eponymous fashion label in 2014, where his designs earned him accolades from the fashion industry. 

Gia Studios designer Lam Gia Khang in his atelier in Ho Chi Minh City
Gia Studios designer Lam Gia Khang (right) in his atelier in Ho Chi Minh City

The experience from running his first fashion brand gave Lam the confidence to launch his second one. Gia Studios, based in Ho Chi Minh City, is special for several reasons. Firstly, the brand is a family affair: Lam works with his mother, who leads the production team. Secondly, Gia Studios offers a singular take on minimalism that you are unlikely to find in Europe, or the US, or even Japan. Lam’s passion for Vietnamese culture, both past and present, sets his designs apart. Season after season, the designer reinterprets traditional Vietnamese garments like the áo yếm (a halter-neck undergarment) and the áo dài (the country’s national dress). He preserves the country’s craftsmanship by working with local craftspeople and using fabrics like Vietnamese silk in his collections. It extends to his brand campaigns as well: Gia Studios’s Spring/Summer 2024 campaign, shot by photographer Huy Vu Le, captures the vibrant energy of the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

Through the brand’s steady expansion into Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, the US, the UK and more, Lam is bringing the beauty and heritage of his home to the wider world. Here, the 33-year-old shares his inspirations, design philosophies, and what lies in the future of Gia Studios.

You come from a family of tailors. What has that taught you about designing clothes for women? 

Lam Gia Khang (LGK): My mother, a dedicated tailor, was always engrossed in her sewing workshop. In my early years, after picking me up from kindergarten, we went straight to the sewing workshop so she could take care of me while working. Her sewing tools gradually became my toys. Seeing my curiosity to explore various things, my mother began teaching me little by little, and then I knew how to sew without even realising it. That’s how I started. 

Spending countless hours in the sewing workshop not only imparted the technical aspects of sewing but also instilled in me a profound respect and appreciation for every single product. Understanding how each product is produced made me realise that each creation demands considerable effort from numerous individuals. Moreover, this experience taught me the importance of paying attention to the minutest details. Even the smallest nuances can make a significant difference. 

What about minimalism appeals to you? 

LGK: The essence of an outfit lies not in the garments themselves but in the woman who wears them. I believe that designs serve as a minimalist canvas, enhancing the beauty of women. When one gazes upon the clothing, my intention is for attention to be drawn to the wearer rather than the attire itself. I am drawn to minimalist styles because, in simplicity, we uncover genuine values and embrace what truly matters. 

Gia Studios’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection, inspired by fluidity and moments in a fashion design studio, features draped dresses and elegant tailoring.
Gia Studios’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection, inspired by fluidity and moments in a fashion design studio, features draped dresses and elegant tailoring.

How do Vietnamese culture and craftsmanship influence your designs? 

LGK: At Gia Studios, we find inspiration in reimagining cultural imprints through a contemporary lens. This season, we continue our journey of crafting fresh interpretations of traditional figures and costumes. The timeless elegance of  áo dài and áo yếm is modernised, transforming into everyday attire for the modern woman. 

How would you describe your working relationship with your mother at Gia Studios? 

LGK: For me, she is the one who both ignites and sustains my fire from day one and whenever doubt starts to creep in. During the toughest times, she always says, “Remember why you started”. My mother is not just my source of support; she’s also my trusted colleague. Together, we oversee our production team at Gia Studios. With an in-house production setup, we handle everything from initial sketches to the final product. Production plays a crucial role in our business, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have my mother by my side to manage this aspect. 

Describe the Gia Studios woman. 

LGK: The Gia Studios woman embodies a modern spirit—she’s someone who delves into life’s profound and essential values instead of superficial ostentation. She savours life to the fullest, making choices based on what resonates with her. She feels comfortable in her skin, and aligns with her authentic self, rather than being swayed by fleeting trends.

What are some best selling pieces from the brand? 

LGK: Some of our bestselling products are the iconic Tulip Jacket and pieces inspired by Vietnamese culture. Our signature Tulip jacket draws inspiration from the gentle curves of flower petals. Each new collection sees this design elevated with distinctive details and materials. Embracing the richness of Vietnamese culture, traditional garments like áo yếm and áo dài undergo a seasonal reinvention, intertwining with the unique style of each collection. The use of local materials, including Vietnamese silk, is also adored by both local and international customers. 

Gia Studios is based in Ho Chi Minh City. How does the energy of the city inspire you?

LGK: Ho Chi Minh City pulsates with vibrancy and life, embodying a blend of contrasting values where tradition converges with modernity. This welcoming metropolis brings together individuals from different cities and backgrounds. I’m personally inspired by the youth and dynamic energy of both the city and its inhabitants. I find endless creativity in the ever-changing pulse of life here. In our Spring/Summer 2024 campaign, we aim to capture the allure of daily life and street life in Ho Chi Minh City through the lens of fashion. 

What inspired the Spring/Summer 2024 collection? 

LGK: The Spring/Summer 2024 collection is all about capturing the collective moments at the studio, from sculpting fabric into flowing silhouettes on a dress form to leaving elements undone. Embracing a sense of fluid drapery, this collection showcases details like flowing fabrics, cascading folds, and gentle curves that exude a feeling of relaxation and movement. 

What is your favourite look from the collection and why? 

LGK: My favourite look in this collection is our black organza-blend Tulip jacket paired with black silk wool straight trousers. For this season, the signature Tulip jacket is upgraded with the four organza layers that add a sense of femininity to the suit. 

How would you describe the Vietnamese fashion industry today? 

LGK: The Vietnamese fashion industry holds great potential and is filled with opportunities. However, there’s a challenge: the market is quick to update but lacks consistent upgrades. It seems like everything in Vietnam is moving at a fast pace, and Vietnamese people are also very good at keeping up with trends. But at that speed, we may not have time to systematically perfect something and have to rush to follow a newer trend. While Vietnamese fashion stays up-to-date with global trends, there’s still a gap to bridge. Even though our design skills match international standards, we need sustainable plans and higher standards to truly flourish. 

What are your goals for the brand for the next five years? 

LGK: I want Gia Studios to be more sustainable and essential. From the beginning, Gia Studios has prioritised sustainability by choosing eco-friendly fabrics, maximising material efficiency, and crafting timeless designs that endure through seasons. Our goal is to go farther than that. In the pursuit of sustainability, we aim to reduce our reliance on naturally-sourced materials, and shift towards more eco-conscious fabrics. Additionally, we’re working on the development and imminent launch of new packaging and hangers crafted from biodegradable plastics. Looking ahead, our ambition is to expand the footprint of Gia Studios into more international markets. Our vision extends beyond merely opening boutique stores or showcasing in partner showrooms to capture attention; it’s about forging a stronger brand identity.

What has been your proudest achievement as a designer so far? 

LGK: In Vietnamese, “Gia” means “family”. My greatest source of pride lies in creating a family where individuals from diverse backgrounds come together with a shared aspiration: to proudly introduce Vietnamese products to the world.

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The collection also sees a new take on the brand’s signature Tulip jacket, now crafted from soft, sheer organza.
The collection also sees a new take on the brand’s signature Tulip jacket, now crafted from soft, sheer organza.
Gia Studios Spring/Summer 2024
Gia Studios Spring/Summer 2024
Gia Studios Spring/Summer 2024
Gia Studios Spring/Summer 2024

This story originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of GRAZIA Singapore