Peter Nguyen of LÉON

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Join us as we chat with Peter about the tools and essentials it takes to get from idea, to design, to a leather jacket, as well as great food, gear in the world of fashion, and more.

Peter Nguyen, NYC-based fashion designer

Peter Nguyen is a New York City-based fashion designer and longtime reader of Everyday Carry. His past projects include working as an assistant designer to acclaimed menswear designer, Robert Geller, running an online store, and writing excellent life advice in his blog, The Essential Man. Now, he’s designing the men’s clothing he wants to make, doing it the way he believes it should be done. Join us as we chat with Peter about the tools and essentials it takes to get from idea, to design, to a leather jacket, as well as great food, gear in the world of fashion, and more. 

You’ve come a long way since your assistant designer gig with Robert Geller, running your own online shop, and writing a blog. Where are you currently in your creative journey?

“I’ve focused most of my energy on developing LÉON. I’m currently working on a small capsule collection for Fall 2014.”

There’s so much you could choose from to design in the world of fashion. What influenced you to focus on leather jackets? From where do you draw your inspiration overall?

One of Peter's leather jackets, the TBO City Jacket.“It was partly an economic decision, partly creative decision. Leather outerwear was my favorite thing to work on at Robert Geller. My first day at Robert Geller was spent treaeting leather jacket samples that had just come in from Japan. I learned more in that one day in terms of design philosophy than I did at my years at Parsons. So you can say that moment planted the seed. Now that I’m growing, I’m testing the waters with a smaller capsule collection of ready-to-wear pieces that go beyond leather.

As for my inspiration, I no longer like to have images on hand or pinned up for me to reference. You can become so invested in pulling from a moment and exact time period that your work becomes literal, old, and boring. I will look at things I find inspiring, but I allow my mind to distort it, forget it. A bad memory is a designer’s best tool — it forces you to solve the problem and design your way.”

Besides fashion and art, what else are you passionate about?

“Cooking and food culture, which is basically design. You’re putting things together to create something else. I actually get a lot of work/life philosophy inspiration from chefs, because the great ones are so focused on doing their own thing. There are a lot of parallels with the food and fashion world. I think that’s why I’m drawn to it. I only have an outsider’s perspective with cooking, which helps me connect with a chef’s concepts and philosophy a lot more. When you’re looking within your own industry, your own first hand experiences can taint the learning process.”

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What’s one thing The Essential Man couldn’t live without?

“A pen. A nice one. I recently bought an aluminum body by Tactile Turn for my favorite pen, the Pilot G2. My girlfriend was making fun of me the day I got it because I was so excited that I was carrying it around. Then we went to the store and she needed to write something a sales associate told her and they couldn’t find a pen. The look on her face when she realized she had to ask for mine was priceless.”

You’ve shared your everyday carry with us before, has it changed since then? Is there any item in particular you’ve been meaning to add to it?

Peter's business card from Terrapin Stationers“I toned it down a lot because I’m running around for work so much. While I still carry my notebook and stationery, I only sketch at home now so I leave all my drawing gear behind. I use my iPhone as my camera. A retractable tape measure is essential. I recently finally got business cards made by Terrapin Stationers. Because I have so many different e-mails and websites, I only printed my name. Depending on the person I’m giving it to, I physically write a specific e-mail, website, or phone number. I met a lady once at a museum that did this and I thought it was a great solution.”

Do you think utilitarian items like everyday carry essentials and other men’s accessories have a place and a future in fashion?

“Fashion is always about individuality, right? There isn’t a reason for most people to carry a retractable tape measure, but for me, it is essential. Conversely, I have no need for a multi-tool. They all have a place with the right people. My only concern is if they’re designed to be aeesthetically pleasing and functional. That’s the only role in fashion I see in this. I wish the tape measure was black.”

If we were rolling through Brooklyn, where would be the best place to grab a bite to eat?

“Brooklyn is a huge place. It’s going to sound a bit cliché, but you can’t go wrong with Shake Shack. They recently opened one near me across from the Barclay’s Center. It probably has the best service I’ve ever experienced from any Shake Shack, so I highly recommend it. I usually go with a Shack Burger with everything on it, french fries and a Dr. Pepper.”

Do you have any cool projects in the works you’d like to tell us about?

“I’ve learned that the only time to talk about projects is when they’ve gone past planning and they’re near done. So you’ll just have to wait.”

Since this interview, Peter went on to unveil the LÉON Fall 2014 Capsule Collection, available now at LÉON.

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