Student Chi Kim Pham Designs Women's Sleepwear in IMPD Partnership With Color Solutions International
Each year, FIDM partners with a top brand in our International Manufacturing & Product Development (IMPD) program where students master all facets of the product development cycle. This year, thirteen students were accepted into the exclusive program and partnered with Color Solutions International (CSI). We caught up with student Chi Kim Pham to learn about her experience developing the sleepwear category, and to find out how she’s staying inspired during these challenging times.
Describe your designs in the CSI industry collaboration: I was assigned the category of Female Sleep for the IMPD partnership with CSI. When you think about sleep, you think about comfort but what does that mean in the future? What can make that “comfort” sellable and likable to the consumers from 2021 to 2022? After doing a lot of trends and colors forecasting individually and with my teammate, I figured out that the sleep market in the future will not be about the price tag but an impactful product that is effective enough to consumers’ health as well as the environment; a combination of technology and natural components.
Consumers are becoming more aware of sustainable as well as innovative technology lifestyles; thus, the designs that I create have to fulfill that need. For my final collection, I got inspired with different fibers innovations such as Vitamins and Collagen fabrics infusion technology; Synthetic Spider Silk fiber from BIOSTEEL® FIBER, which is stronger and eco-friendlier than traditional silk; Infrared Energy fiber in bedsheets and garments from Under Armour to help restore muscles; and Milk Casein Fiber from QMilk that is eco-friendlier than wool.
Other than that, some of the products that I would love to create that can be important in the future for the sleep market include Twilight Ring to reduce nightmares and stress due to sleep disorders, Sleep at Ease Pillow with soundwaves to ease nervous system, and Breathe Easy Pillow to help people with sleep apnea or other discomforts to breathe easier in their sleep. These products were planned to be made from recycled or recyclable materials that are friendly to the environment and high quality enough for consumers.
What was one of the highlights of the 9-month IMPD program? One of the highlights of the 9-month program was definitely when we had to make our samples; it was extremely stressful as we had to prepare our final book while getting our designs sampled. I remember everyone had such a hard time managing their schedules and their mental health, but it was a big lesson for all of us to always be prepared and get our stuff done no matter what.
Tell us your industry story--your path to FIDM and the IMPD program: I came to America from Vietnam when I was 15 to pursue my dream in the fashion industry. I didn’t know much back then but I was lucky to find FIDM after I graduated from high school, and it has changed me completely. I have always been passionate about fashion design; thus, I applied to the Fashion Design A.A. program and fell in love with it. The program helped me to find myself and get out of my comfort zone to be free with my creativity but still be able to apply industry knowledge alongside it. After my design degree, I found out that I wanted to explore a more industrial side besides designing, which was production and business. The IMPD program had everything to make me become not only a creative product developer, but also a global business developer, and that’s what fascinated me the most.
What are your career goals and how is FIDM helping you get there? My career goals are to have my own fashion company in the future and bring awareness about the environment to the people in the industry. FIDM is helping me to prepare myself along the way mentally and physically because the more I know about the industry, the more I realize how tough it is to be successful. My professors taught me that even the slightest error in the system can ruin a huge production so everyone who takes on a job in the industry needs to be cautious all the time, and you cannot make it without great passion either. I have a lot of room to learn, but FIDM gave me a lot of great knowledge that I don’t think I could find anywhere else.
We’d like to hear how you're coping with the lockdown. What are you doing to stay inspired at home during these challenging times? As an active person, I’ve found it hard to stay at home but I’m glad I have my creativity to keep me going. Every day, I give myself a project to do, either sketching or sewing, doing yoga or cardio, watching a series or reading a book, creating a website or writing a blog. I always tell myself to be fully committed to it, otherwise I would feel extremely unproductive. I also use this time to connect to myself more, understanding what I can improve and what I can do to have a healthier mentality to battle stress; plus, talking to my family and old friends to recall great memories is also a great escape as it helps me to stay out of boredom and loneliness.
How are you showing up for your community, your career, and yourself right now? I’m showing up for my community right now by making sure I support them mentally and encouraging them to be positive as the meaning of life is to enjoy the moment and cherish life as it is. For my career, I’m making sure that I’m not giving up on sharpening my skills and my knowledge as they are the most powerful tools to make me more desirable. Last but not least, for myself, I’m trying to reassure myself that I am strong no matter what life brings to me, that I can do anything as long as I try hard and have my family with me.
What brands are inspiring you right now, in terms of their response to the needs of the world during this pandemic? There are many high-end brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga that are producing surgical masks to aid people in the global coronavirus outbreak. They are doing an amazing job to help, but one of the fashion brands that is inspiring me the most right now is Roboro, a sustainable clothing brand based in LA. They are doing their best to help national hospitals with thousands of surgical masks donations in the past few weeks. Roboro is small but their intentions are always noticeable, they have a big heart for fashion, environment, and the community, and they would do anything to help what they love.
What are you most looking forward to once the pandemic is over? To start working again, going on beautiful hikes, hanging out with my friends at the beach, meeting people I love, traveling back home to see my family, greeting random people on the street, and showing my appreciation to people who work at the grocery stores, fast food chains, hospitals, etc., people who work hard through everything.