Linda Mai Phung is a French designer based in Ho Chi Minh City, and the co-founder of SUPER VISION: a sustainable fashion label intended to challenge the status quo of the traditional fashion business model by experimenting innovative solutions for a more sustainable industry. The intent behind this is in her commitment to raise awareness on ethical fashion; by using recycled fabrics for their designs, implementing traceability and transparency in their process, and measuring impact.
Your time and work is divided to Evolution 3 and SUPER VISION – can you share more about this?
My main role is to develop and design for SUPER VISION business, and our design lab is based in our manufacturing operation at Evolution, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. SUPER VISION’s mission is to challenge the status quo of the traditional fashion business model by experimenting innovative solutions for a more sustainable industry. It was created under the umbrella of Evolution, our factory settled in VN where we work on shifting our operations to a more sustainable direction, ecologically and ethically, for the good of our workers, our community and change the harmful impact of garment production.
What are some of the biggest challenges encountered in the logistics of running SUPER VISION? Any unexpected ones?
I ran another sustainable fashion company before SUPER VISION and the scale was artisan-made fashion with locally sourced fabrics, so I literally had to expand and scale-up my vision from working with a team of 5 people max with small suppliers to a factory team with large scale processes. The adaption was challenging but I see today that I have so much more positive impact working with a bigger team and partners.
As a sustainable designer, how do you think product designs can be more thoughtful, if not timeless?
How designers create products have a huge impact on the life of people who manufacture it and on the environment. From choosing a material to adding more length to a dress, every detail matters. In my opinion, despite creating a nice looking product that fits right for the customer, it is essential for a designer to care where it is going to be made, by whom and how it could finish its life to create a truly thoughtful design. Being conscious of the impact of every step of product development and sharing the facts empowers not only the designer, but also the consumer, who can make a responsible choice to buy the product or not.
At SUPER VISION, it’s not only about choosing recycled fabrics for our designs, we are committed to transparency by showing where our products are made with our traceability tool. We measure the CO2 consumption of each of them, publish it and invite the customer to cycle off her or his purchase to compensate. Also, we implemented a test-phase during our product development process: sets of prototypes are tested within our community in order to produce garments that are functional, unisex, durable and timeless, not becoming waste that were once desirable.
You lived in France before your move to Vietnam, what brought you back?
Growing up in France as a child of Vietnamese parents gave me the curiosity to look at the world from a very conscious perspective. The contrast between what I remembered from my early trips to Vietnam with them, and the environmental issues taught to me in school made me committed to contribute to this world in a positive way. Always equally passionate about fashion and traveling to discover new cultures, I found the way to deliver that positive contribution by talking about my culture through sustainable designs and Vietnamese fabrics.
What was the biggest difference you saw in terms of sustainability in design across the two countries?
Living since 10 years now in Vietnam, I witnessed an incredible and fast development in the economy: nowadays more and more Vietnamese people have access to shopping, leisure, tourism and enjoying it. Most of the people are not aware of environmental impact of consumption yet, so on the one hand, there are great initiatives like design universities letting me give talks about the necessity of sustainable fashion design, and ELLE Magazine organizing a design contest to bring sustainability to a more mainstream audience. At the same time, many high-street fast fashion brand are recently appearing in Vietnam and use aggressive marketing to strengthen their presence and create a culture of repeatedly buying clothing without thinking about durability similar to France 20 years ago.
How has your perception on sustainability and the fashion industry changed since moving to Vietnam?
After graduating and working in France, I committed to raise awareness about ethical fashion by setting-up my eco-fashion label inspired by Vietnamese craftsmanship and that’s why I moved to Vietnam. When I worked directly with manufacturers, textile makers, suppliers and artisans, I realized I knew so little about the complexity of the textile supply chain even I was educated a fashion designer. Going out there, I learned so much by working with all these partners hand-in-hand, on an eye-to-eye level, sharing about my vision and getting to know their skills and challenges. Then trying to improve it for the better all the while delivering sustainable products.
My perception hasn’t really changed, I am more realistic and informed today and even more engaged in changing the entire fashion industry. More and more brands, institutions, governments and individuals are becoming aware of its harmful impact and trying to find alternatives.
What’s the biggest misconception that people may have about the work that you do?
That I sketch all day long and day-dream for a job. This is like 1% of my working time.
What is the relationship you have with your clothes?
I wear about 30 essential pieces from my wardrobe all the time until they really fall apart or until I grow them out. In Vietnam, we have access to affordable tailors so last year I asked mine to re-make a shirtdress in 3 different colours… The rest are well kept memories and stories, I take them out for occasions or look at them with nostalgia.
Going the extra mile to look-up who made your clothes, knowing its story to write your own next adventure with it!
What does sustainability mean to you?
It’s a holistic lifestyle: being mindful of my actions and how it impacts my environment and community. It’s not easy to be conscious every single day, but seeing the benefits inside and out really motivates me to strive.
We are inspired by Linda’s commitment to raise awareness on ethical fashion and are proud to have her as Fieldtesters, a group of inspiring individuals that test MATTER products in their everyday journeys of passion, to help us improve durability and design. Linda is wearing the Classic Wideleg + IChing Charcoal in Size 1.