I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with LA-based designer Lisa Hsieh of Mien Studios. I really admired her choices in the direction of Mien’s aesthetics and their beautiful Instagram feed so I was excited to collaborate and base the shoot off of their very minimal yet bold style.
Can you give some background on yourself in a few sentences?
I’m Lisa Hsieh. I’m 34 years old and earlier this year established a new menswear and womenswear brand, Mien. I was born in Taiwan and lived between Taiwan the States until I permanently moved to Southern California with my family when I was sixteen. Growing up between two different cultures and trying to successfully assimilate to each one helped me develop a tenacity and resilience that has helped me start a business on my own. I’m very grateful to my parents who have given up their comfortable life in Taiwan to give me the chance of an even better life and opportunities here in the U.S. My family’s unwavering support is motivation for me to always try harder.
How did you get into fashion/design?
I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a child and after graduating from university with a fine art degree, I instinctively knew that I wanted to pursue my interest in fashion design. Of course, getting my foot into the fashion industry door eight years ago wasn’t easy. With no formal training in fashion design but only a few fashion courses I’ve taken at a local art school, I worked unpaid internships for fashion companies, helped out in fashion showrooms (fetching coffee, fixing printers, you name it) and worked backstage at Los Angeles Fashion Week steaming garments and dressing models all while working full time jobs at high end fashion boutiques to familiarize myself with the fashion retail world. Soon, I found a job working for a local, small indie designer, helping in design and garment sewing. I then moved onto designing for a premium denim brand and worked my way up from design assistant to art director. My last design job was for a prominent evening wear couture house in Los Angeles. There was a short a couple of years before I started my own brand when I left the fashion industry to pursue a Masters degree in Art because I was feeling burnt out from the fast-paced industry. During that time, I was pulled into the architectural design world and briefly worked as an interior designer for a high end remodeling firm for two years. Although it was the start of a rewarding career path, albeit an entirely different one, I ultimately decided that fashion design was where my heart was at. Now I am building a brand from the ground up and I haven’t looked back.
What was the inspiration for Mien?
Mien, pronounced mēn, means a person’s air or bearing; an expressive attitude or personality one exudes. My design sensibility is deeply influenced by my fine art background. My paintings resembles watercolor paintings with intricate line drawings and delicate paper cutouts layered throughout. The process is tedious and requires meticulousness. I design in much of the same way, obsessing over the small details, eliminating the excess while preserving what makes a garment unique and deserving of a shelf space in its future owner’s closet. For me, the value of a favorite wardrobe piece lies within its timeless design, high quality construction and comfort - qualities I work hard to include in Mien’s collection.
With fast fashion trends, one doesn’t seem to be wearing the clothes but it’s the other way around. Mien offers the opposite effect, by wearing well-made, thoughtfully design garments the wearer is one who stands out, not the clothes. The launch collection is very minimal in design consisting of mostly black and white but it’s not meant to be a “minimalist” line. I started out with offerings of understated but elevated wardrobe basics but will be adding more complex styles and designs in the form of cocktail dresses for women and outerwear for men. It’s also important to note that the line is made in Downtown Los Angeles. Having production done in American helps with our local economy but also allows me to be hands-on with the entire process from design to production.
Who are your favorite designers? Musicians?
I’m a fan of fashion designers Alexander McQueen and Isabel Toledo. As for music, my Spotify is always streaming Madeleine Peyroux, Ella Fitzgerald, Adele and occasionally Maroon 5.