Ten 10: Nguyen Cong Tri

A pioneer and a visionary, designer Nguyen Cong Tri is one of the biggest names in the Vietnamese fashion industry


When did you first get into the fashion industry? What difficulties did you have convincing your family and friends that this was the right career for you?

I began when I was in university. At that time, fashion was still new, so it was difficult to convince my family that this could be a career. But I knew, even then, that I had to work in the fashion industry.


As a fashion designer, what challenges have you been through?

Vietnam didn’t really have a fashion scene at the time I started out in 2000. So there was no school to teach you how to do things — you simply had to teach yourself. Self-teaching is not always easy.


In the last 15 years, what are your most treasured moments? And the most challenging?

My most treasured moments have come on the catwalk stage, holding the hands of the models who have worn my creations during fashion shows. The difficulties I have been through are many — as many as there are different types of fabric.


What makes you interested in fashion? And clothes designing?

I am interested in fashion and clothes designing because I love beauty and I want to make people beautiful.


People say your designs should be shown on the international fashion stage. What difficulties do Vietnamese designers face in getting their designs worn in foreign countries?

The world is very big and there is not only me doing fashion. Even to me, what is considered new and beautiful only exists for a few hours. I think each designer has their own style and personality. The most important thing is how our designs reach out to the world.


Who are your clients? Do you sell your products overseas? How do you feel when you take part in international fashion shows?

My clients are often ladies in high social positions who love beauty, especially politicians’ wives, even first ladies around the world. I find doing international fashion shows really exciting, and I always have the feeling I am going to learn a lot of new things.


Does the world accept Vietnamese fashion?

I think Vietnamese fashion hasn’t yet reached the highest level yet, but has slowly scored some good points through professional and international fashion shows. Vietnam International Fashion Week has really helped as it is a chance for Vietnamese designers to bring their creativity to the world.


As one of the judges of Project Runway, what level is Vietnamese fashion at compared to international fashion? What are the strengths of Vietnamese designers and what do they need to improve?

I think Vietnam needs to make a lot more effort to step out to the world. In order to do that, Vietnamese designers have to constantly improve their skills. In my perspective, strengths can also be weaknesses. The important thing is how to balance them.


How has the annual Dep Fashion Show aided the development of the Vietnam fashion industry?

Dep Fashion Show is one of the pioneering fashion shows in this country. By combining the catwalk and art, it’s helped make some designers shine. It’s also acts as a target for young designers. Getting their collections on the catwalk at the Dep Fashion Show is something for them to aspire to.


How long do you think it might take for Vietnamese fashion to make it overseas?

That question is too broad for me. I simply love fashion and love beauty. I focus my interest on what I have been doing for my brand.

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