Peter Do: the Phoebe Phi­lo trained design­er mak­ing clothes for real women

The designer’s nascent New York brand is fast becoming a new staple look in many women’s wardrobe.

We don’t want to be just anoth­er Supreme drop – peo­ple buy it, sell it, and for­get about it,” says design­er Peter Do when asked about pos­si­ble brand col­lab­o­ra­tions. We want to col­lab­o­rate, but via a long-term project that grows into some­thing great.” 

This propen­si­ty for longevi­ty is root­ed at the core of Peter Do, a nascent New York brand on a mis­sion to make clothes for real women. The high­ly fem­i­nine, smart­ly tai­lored yet whim­si­cal col­lec­tions fea­ture pieces like well-fit­ted suit pants – their best sell­er – a bil­lowy sheer blouse, a suit jack­et accent­ed with a cutout back, and an intri­cate­ly pleat­ed dress. A piece of Do is fast becom­ing a new sta­ple look in many a woman’s wardrobe. After grad­u­at­ing from FIT with the LVMH Grad­u­ates Award in 2014, Do cut his teeth at Céline (under Phoebe Phi­lo) and Derek Lam before launch­ing his name­sake label ear­ly in 2018, with a group of five friends in tow (includ­ing sales direc­tor Vin­cent Ho whom Peter first met sev­en years ago, in a true mil­len­ni­al fash­ion, via Tumblr).

Do has fast amassed a cult fol­low­ing. To meet the grow­ing demands of his clien­tele – those want­i­ng to expe­ri­ence his clothes IRL – Do is host­ing his first ever pre­sen­ta­tion-cum-exhi­bi­tion for SS20 in New York next month. SS20 tells a very dif­fer­ent sto­ry from that of the last two sea­sons,” Ho explains, but as a whole, it still con­tributes to the over­all iden­ti­ty and core aes­thet­ic of the brand – the focus on fab­ric, fit and con­struc­tion.” Expect more colour, a debut jew­ellery and knitwear line, and a lot of skirts.

Peter Do SS19. Photography: Montis Songsombat, courtesy of Peter Do

Doing it for the real women

Do’s ethos on design­ing for real women is no doubt intrin­si­cal­ly linked to his train­ing under the mas­ter of slick min­i­mal­ism, Phoebe Phi­lo at Céline. I learned every­thing from Phoebe,” Peter tells me mat­ter of fact­ly. Clothes are clothes – they are made to be put on a per­son. [It was at Céline] that I real­ly got to know the woman I was design­ing for. Every sea­son we would have a dis­cus­sion, where is she going? What is she doing? What’s her attitude?’”

Do’s affin­i­ty for women’s cloth­ing stems from his per­son­al aes­thet­ic that sees him wear­ing Céline and oth­ers wom­enswear labels. Peter has this spe­cif­ic rela­tion­ship with wom­ensear,” explains Ho. He lives his life in it. He knows how the body works and relates to the shapes of the gar­ments, the fab­rics and such. I think if any­body in the office lived in menswear, it would be a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion. We just all wear so much womenswear.” 

Peter Do SS19. Photography: Montis Songsombat, courtesy of Peter Do

Spear­head­ing sustainability

Do’s sig­na­ture spac­er” fab­ric – devel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with a Ger­man mill while he was still in school out of a desire devel­op every­thing on [his] own from scratch” – is key to his upcom­ing SS20 col­lec­tion. Likened to neo­prene – a sort of syn­thet­ic rub­ber – spac­er is well-insu­lat­ed, machine wash­able and best of all, it doesn’t wrin­kle. To look at, it’s super del­i­cate and frag­ile, yet it’s durable in its con­struc­tion. Some­thing about this fab­ric real­ly intrigues peo­ple – it looks like some­thing you can’t describe.” The spac­er also embod­ies the brand’s com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­i­ty: We want to make sus­tain­able clothes that last,” Do says. If we could all go back to mak­ing real clothes again and not make as much. Pieces that are good and informed.”

Peter Do SS19. Photography: Montis Songsombat, courtesy of Peter Do

Sen­so­ry overload

Because of this ded­i­ca­tion to crafts­man­ship, tai­lor­ing and qual­i­ty, the label is rel­a­tive­ly expen­sive in com­par­i­son to its peers. But it’s the sen­so­ry expe­ri­ence it pro­vides that’s irre­sistible: We don’t have any brick and mor­tar stores in the US but we do in Asia and Europe,” says Ho. Our cus­tomers who go into the store to touch it, feel it, see that the price point makes sense. The cut makes sense.” Do’s ethos has only been embold­ened by the unique visu­al image they have panned out on social media. They hope to trans­late all of this into a phys­i­cal space á la the Peter Do bou­tique at some point. It’s in our 5-year plan,” says Ho, Once we have all of our cat­e­gories fleshed out, we’ll open a store so that peo­ple can be ful­ly immersed in our world. We want to expand the visu­al lan­guage of the brand into every­thing – floor­ing, lamps, an entire world built around the brand ethos.”

Peter Do SS19. Photography: Montis Songsombat, courtesy of Peter Do

Not anoth­er hype

In a world in which logo­ma­nia, brand col­lab­o­ra­tions and drops” have long become the new nor­mal, Do has no plans to ride the hype wave. He’d rather take things one step at a time. That’s also why he has decid­ed to start out with an inti­mate pre­sen­ta­tion rather than a full run­way show: We want to intro­duce all the dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories first before doing a run­way show. We don’t want to just put some­thing out there that will end up in the fash­ion land­fill,” he says. It’s not about the hype and I think our prod­ucts speak for them­selves. There has to be a rea­son for every­thing we do. We ask, Why this look? Why these col­ors? Why this col­lab­o­ra­tion?’. These plain olive green pants have been our num­ber one sell­er. Women try them on and feel great in them. Then they tell their friends about them too.” In fact, the biggest press for the brand has been through a word of mouth. You can post some­thing on Insta­gram a mil­lion times but the opin­ions of some­one who knows you are worth so much more. That’s the kind of com­mu­ni­ty we want to build.” 

Peter Do SS19. Photography: Montis Songsombat, courtesy of Peter Do

Leav­ing a legacy

While the New York fash­ion scene has been expe­ri­enc­ing an upsurge in recent years, ani­mat­ed by bold young design­ers such as Eck­haus Lat­ta and Gyspy Sport look­ing to shift the par­a­digm, it’s been a long time since New York or Amer­i­ca has had a ful­ly fash­ioned brand”. As Ho explains, We’re a young brand but with an empha­sis on tra­di­tion, tai­lor­ing, and dress­ing well. These types of gar­ments can be incor­po­rat­ed into your wardrobe, along with your Nikes, adi­das, Vete­ments, atheleisures. It’s about cre­at­ing sta­ples.” They’re in this game for the long-haul. 

We’re not just cre­at­ing some­thing for the sake of it,” Do con­tin­ues. We’re cre­at­ing some­thing that comes from expe­ri­ence, some­thing con­sid­ered, some­thing very personal.”

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