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Spotlight: Derek Lam

Courtesy of Derek Lam Derek Lam

Photo: Courtesy of Derek Lam

Profession: Fashion Designer

Home Base: New York

“I appreciate beauty most when i have to look for it,” Derek Lam says. “And that’s what I love about Bangkok. There’s a sensory overload—the buzz of traffic, the intense heat, the utter chaos. It forces you to take time to find what’s unique.” The San Francisco–born Lam regularly circles from Tokyo to Los Angeles to Rome, then home to New York for business (in addition to his namesake line, he’s also the creative director of Tod’s). But when it comes to downtime, it’s Thailand that puts the most stamps in his passport. The elements of day-to-day life intrigue him, from street food (stewed chicken with ginger is a favorite) to the fragrant strands of jasmine offerings found in local temples and all over town.

This attention to detail speaks to Lam’s overall travel philosophy—and has influenced his romantic, tailored designs. “People think that when they’re on vacation, there are no rules about what to wear. But it’s easy to make just a little effort. Why not look your best?” he says. No matter where he’s headed, Lam lives by this tenet and sticks to an understated uniform of Levi’s jeans, a Thom Browne shirt, and Tod’s driving loafers. His own streamlined packing routine inspired his latest collaboration: a sleek, limited-edition vinyl travel case for Kiehl’s, packed with carry-on–friendly sizes of the brand’s best sellers. “I’ve been using Kiehl’s products forever, but I always had to transfer them into smaller bottles,” Lam says of his idea. “Now, even airport security is intrigued by the set.”

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