Calvin Tran article sponsored banner by Corolla 2017
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One of the reasons, why I chose to study Fashion Design, was because I figured I can get easy A’s and all I have to do is think up a design in my mind. There’s not a whole lot of studying involve. Any other classes, all I ever got was a bunch of ‘C’s and ‘D’s. At that rate, I would have to repeat those classes and would never graduate; or worse, the school would have expelled me.

— the young man with a classical, chiseled facial structure explodes in laughter when asked about his decision to become a fashion designer.

Calvin Trần - photo in article sponsored by Corolla 2017 on Người Việt Online
Calvin Tran – New York Fashion Designer (Photo: Calvin Tran)

That young man is the fashion designer Calvin Tran, a prominent Vietnamese-American designer out of New York. You might have seen him on “The Fashion Show – Ultimate Collection” (second season) where his outspoken personality and design earned him Fashion International Group’s coveted Style Breaker award. Calvin and his work have been featured in acclaimed publications such as The New York Times, Woman’s Wear Daily, Lucky, Cosmopolitan, Chicago Social, US Weekly and The Men’s Book. His work also appeared on ABC 7’s “Best of Chicago” and “Asian Influence,” The Buena Vista International Upfronts and San Francisco Chronicles “The Inside Scoop.

Me, Calvin Tran. Working with people. Oh here go hell come.

Calvin’s semi-nonsensical phrases like “Oh, here go hell come” have brought him to the attention of The Soup and YouTube.

Quite an achievement for such a young man. Curiously I asked, “the awards and recognitions, you got quite a few over the years. How did you manage to get so many? Did you have to work harder for them?

Burst out in laughter Calvin answered, “No I don’t think about them. Not at all. The thing about awards is that when you don’t think about them, not looking for them, they come looking for you. I just focus on doing what I love doing, that I’m passionate about. I don’t let fear or harsh criticism hold me back from achieving my dream. The awards found me. It’s all part of the success package I think!”

“What good may come from fiddling with needles and threads?”

It was during his first year of college that he realized he wasn’t very good at math and science, or any other subjects. Fashion was on his mind and he somehow knew he’ll be good at it. “As the days passed, it has become clear that my heart was set on fashion,” Calvin recalled. Making the decision to switch major to studying fashion design wasn’t easy he said. In the back of his mind, he could hear his mother’s voice echoing the words “Fashion? What good may come from fiddling with needles and threads?”

But Calvin has made up his mind, he followed through with his decision. He chose Fashion Design as his major field of study and completed college earning his BFA from Illinois Institute of Art. The decision to study fashion making it his lifetime career was one of the best decision he made by far. Calvin’s career as a fashion designer took off even before he graduated from college. And it hasn’t stopped since.

Shortly after graduated from college, Calvin landed a job as Creative Director for Zabari in New York. He went on opening his first store, Sac Boutique, in Chicago in 2000. It was a daring move but it was a success. His fashion suddenly became in demand. His customers rave his designs and so did many Hollywood Stars like Drew Barrymore Gina Gershon, Brooke Shields, Piper Perabo.

Riding on the success of his first store, Calvin went on opening two more store locations in New York and San Francisco the following years.

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Family support

Studying Calvin’s designs, my mind traveled, reliving childhood dreams. Unlike friends at the same age who liked to play outdoors and joined groups to share hobbies, I used to immerse myself in an imaginary world filled with stories about strong girls who would wear stylish, colorful clothes. But as I grew older, my mother steered me away from creativity and the arts into literature and mathematics. I still remember I used to get yelled at because I didn’t get a good grade in math and she didn’t even notice when I showed her a beautiful painting which I diligently drew.

Remembering this bitter episode, I asked Calvin: “When choosing a fashion design career, did you have support from your family?”

He laughed out loud. “Nobody,” he answered. “My own mother said, What good will come from fiddling with needles and threads? Your siblings were allowed to learn how to sew, fiddling with needles and threads all these years. Has anything good come about as the result? Sewing is NOT a career!” Even her friends advised, “Oh child, don’t choose this major. You won’t find any work.”Continue reading »

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