Art is something that is so important to me. Painting, writing, even coloring – being able to express myself is what keeps me sane after spending so many years in school and being taught how to do things “the right way”. Art takes away some of the repetition of everyday life and makes it beautiful. Thankfully, Memphis is a city overflowing with art of every kind. I had the chance to hang out and interview one of these crazy-talented Memphis artists, fashion designer Zoe Vu. We talked about her art, her stance on feminism, and how both of those things influence each other in her daily life.
How did your career as a designer start?
I worked at a clothing store, maybe I shouldn’t say their name, but oh well, I will anyway. I worked at Urban Outfitters for about 4 or 5 years and I started to notice that everything was the same. Everything there and at the mall stores, I already had, maybe in a different color. So, I decided to start making my own clothes, in order to have something new.
What are some of your inspirations for your designs?
I love music festivals! So music festivals, raves, Electric Forest. Bonnaroo, things like that. I really want to make festival inspired clothing that’s work appropriate and bring festival style into everyday social settings. I also really like David Bowie – his stage wear and just out and about with his girlfriends.
Your line is called Nomadic Vibe right?
Yes! I feel like that really embodies my lifestyle. I love to travel. I’m actually about to go to California to see some of my art in a gallery. Then I’m going to Denver and staying in an Airbnb, more for fun – like a vacation. I’m excited! Everywhere I go, I like to check out the local art. I love everything art related, I’m just a very visual person.
That’s awesome! So what are some of the things you’re doing now?
I just designed my first mini collection for Memphis Fashion Week! Last year I won in the singles division, which is 3 pieces. A mini collection is 5 looks and 10 pieces. I actually designed it three times. I just wanted to make sure it was really me.
So GrrlPunch is a magazine that’s written “for girls, by girls” so we spend a lot of time talking about women’s issues and feminism. Would you consider yourself a feminist?
I AM a feminist! I went to the Women’s March recently and I made a shirt that had the female symbol with cat ears and whiskers. I was reading an article about Emma Watson earlier, how she was shamed for pictures that showed her breasts. For a long time modesty was something that I believed gained women respect. But when I came to college my views on that started to change. I was wearing more revealing clothes and honestly I was being slut shamed for it. It took me a while to accept that. And I’m not a perfect feminist, everyday I’m learning something new. But being able to be involved in work that builds other women up has been so great to me.
How does your stance on feminism influence your designs?
For my clothing line, I try to make things that everyone can feel comfortable in, that fits anyone, and is stretchy. I love comfortable clothes! But I haven’t found my cause yet. I would like to get involved with organizations that help with domestic and sexual violence against women. Coming from a long line of women who have been abused, that’s something that’s very important to me. And it’s not something people really talk about. I would like to, in some way, connect my line with advocacy for women, but in a way that’s more than just selling clothes and donating money.
What are some of your goals for the next year? And, being so busy, how do you keep up with those goals?
I would like to merge with a project to help women who have been abused. I’m also going back to school to get my Master’s degree in Business. I think it’s really important to have that good foundation before I continue my line. I do freelance work bringing up new companies, so it will easier since I know how to market my line. And I always like to plan 6 months to a year in advance!
If you’re interested in seeing Zoe’s designs, check her out on instagram @nomadic_vibe or see her first mini collection at Memphis Fashion Week April 7th and 8th!