Kiehl’s is one of those brands that you can’t walk past at a department store cosmetic counter without noticing. There’s something about the minimal, almost clinical packaging that immediately draws you in. Its sleek aesthetic is so in-line with fashion designer Phillip Lim, he has partnered with the skincare powerhouse for their Pioneers By Nature project—a look back at the history of Kiehl’s’ innovation, technology and efficacy.
Keep scrolling for our exclusive interview with the man behind 3.1 Phillip Lim and learn about why he started his label and what his surprising daily ritual is.
Who What Wear: What was your first experience with Kiehl’s?
Phillip Lim: It was their original musk scent that I first tried, and to this day, I still use it. What struck me was that it was a different type of packaging and a different type of message. At the time it was all about big brands and big marketing campaigns that were for the masses. Kiehl’s felt more honest and individualised—as if your local physician was prescribing a remedy for wellness.
WWW: Kiehl’s is celebrating you as a pioneer in the fashion industry. Tell us about your story as a designer and why you started 3.1 Phllip Lim.
PL: I’ve always loved clothes, but growing up in the suburbs of Orange Country, I didn’t know what fashion was. I didn’t have many clothes at the time because we didn’t have many means. My parents were just normal people. I was a first generation immigrant, and just working to get somewhere and do things. Fast forward to my foray into fashion when I realised that I could actually create something, which provided me with that childhood dream of having the best clothes that were available to me without having the best means. At that time the market was about very expensive designers. It comes back to this idea of big brands dominating the market. This is when I was given the opportunity to create beautiful clothes—clothes without compromise, clothes with integrity, clothes that made me feel good, that made my friends feel good, that made people all around me feel good, and clothes that were accessible—clothes that weren’t behind the ivory tower of fashion. So myself and my business partner pursued this idea and 3.1 Phillip Lim was born.
WWW: What does the word pioneer mean to you? What makes someone a pioneer?
PL: What makes me think of a pioneer is someone who doesn’t just accept things for the way they are. They ask that one question, ‘’Why not?’’ And not only do they ask that question, but also they pursue that answer. It’s a constant pursuit and having that kind of courage, to push forward, break ground and chart new territories is what makes a pioneer.
WWW: What inspires you?
PL: The everyday inspires me. I say this phrase ‘’you’ve got to romance your reality.’’ And what this means for me is that every single day, I see what kind of light it is. I notice the smell of the morning and enjoy the ceremony of getting dressed—all of this affects my mood. After exiting my house, I let each moment unfold and add up. You know, it’s very inspiring because it is the reality of my own life and I make sure I romance every single day and put into what I do.
Do you have a daily ritual that keeps you inspired? Tell us in the comments below!