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Designer Yvon Nguyen goes the subscription route for petites

Designer Yvon Nguyen goes the subscription route for petites
Fashion designer Yvon Nguyen, in orange, works with models before a runway show. Nguyen is head of Yvon Lux, a label aimed at Asian American women. (Courtesy of Yvon Nguyen)

For Yvon Nguyen, shopping for clothes had always been frustrating.

At 4 foot 11, she rarely finds pants or dresses that fit — and flatter — her. So for years, almost everything she bought in a store ended up at a tailor for alterations. She even started making her own changes by adding design details, such as buttons or linings.

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“Everything I started doing was out of necessity, at first because of my size, but then, out of a desire to add some personality to it,” said Nguyen, 35.

Nguyen enjoyed customizing her own clothes, but as the head of her own marketing firm, she never thought of designing for others. Then in 2015, she attended Viet Fashion Week — an Orange County event showcasing Vietnamese fashion designers — and inspiration hit.

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“I was like, ‘Wow, there are all these Vietnamese designers out there — I could do this too,’ ” she said.

The next year, she launched the Yvon Lux clothing line that offers custom-made pants, blouses, dresses, business suits, jackets and evening gowns that specifically — but not exclusively — caters to petite women who are under 5 foot 6.

“I wanted to end shopping woes for them,” she said.

Now, Nguyen, who is entirely self-taught, is introducing a new venture — a subscription service for clients to receive individually designed and tailored pieces each month for a flat fee. While women’s clothing subscriptions have become popular in recent years, Nguyen said that hers distinguishes itself in quality and personalization. Nothing is mass-produced, and everything is made-to-order with the specific client in mind.

“We want to be the go-to for busy, successful women who can have their own stylist, their own designer, and not worry about having to spend hours at the mall,” she said.

Nguyen, who lives in Yorba Linda, describes her style as “minimalistic glamour,” an approach that she said flatters the petite body. She uses solid colors and cuts that are designed to make a woman look leggy and slim, no matter her height.

“One of my goals for Yvon Lux is to disrupt the industry in that way,” she said.

The subscription service has three tiers — lifestyle pieces for daily wear, such as pants and summer dresses; business attire, including suits, jackets and silk blouses; and a formal collection of evening gowns. Collections range from $119 to $339 per month.

Clients submit their measurements and style preferences — which colors, necklines and sleeve lengths they like, what industry they work in, how often they go out — and Nguyen comes up with a profile of the types of pieces they’ll enjoy and will look best on them.

Newport Beach resident Cathleen Nguyen, who had Yvon Nguyen design several dresses for her in the past year, said that a subscription service is a good solution for busy women, especially those who have trouble finding their size at the store.

“Everything is so fast-paced, and we just don’t have the time anymore,” she said. “You don’t have to spend all those hours searching, trying on things. There’s always something you have to fix about it; there’s always something you don’t like about it.”

Plus, Cathleen Nguyen said, having a surprise each month can expand a person’s taste.

“If you always pick out everything that you want, you’re going to have similar stuff in your closet,” she said. “Having her design what she thinks looks best gives us more variety and allows us to see what else we look good in that we might not have known.”

Yvon Nguyen estimates that she’ll have several hundred subscribers nationwide after her launch this month. Over the next two years she plans to scale up to include even more.

By taking her time to grow the service, Nguyen said she’ll be able continue playing a hands-on role with her clients. In addition to design work, she also acts as a stylist, advising what kind of shoes or jewelry to wear with her outfits if needed.

“They’re not just filling out a form online,” she said of her subscription service. “They’ll feel like they have a stylist and a designer at their expense.”

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