Katie Fong models some of her own designs. Photographs by Bob Rozycki.
Katie Fong welcomes WAG into her Greenwich workspace with a smile, a warm contrast to the day’s glum, winter weather. Displaying her work, a luxurious collection of late day-into-evening wear, her sheer passion for design is apparent.
As the 24-year-old founder, CEO and creative director for her own brand, Katie Fong LLC, she creates garments for special events, including weddings, graduations and galas.
“I really feel like clothes can make a woman feel attractive. It can make them feel confident. It can make them feel alluring,” says Fong. “I have a huge passion for clothing and design and for making customers feel special.”
Within her brand are two separate businesses: ready-to-wear and custom. For her ready-to-wear line, Fong designs full collections to sell. For custom, she creates original pieces to specific budgets.
“It’s rewarding to be able to work with a client and make something for them that no one else will have and have it fit them so perfectly. It’s very special.”
With custom design, popular for graduations, clients choose from eight different tops and bottoms and a range of fabrics, linings and colors to create a one-of-a-kind look. Once a client selects a certain combination, Fong will not sell the same combination to a fellow classmate that same year.
Clients can also select a made-to-measure option, popular for wedding gowns, where a garment is made entirely from scratch. A longer process, this can require anywhere from two to 10 fittings, depending on the client.
“We go over all the details: what types of fabrics they like, if there’s any dresses they’ve tried on in the past that they own, that they love and personality – really getting to know your client. I like to be as involved as I can.”
Fong’s designs have become known for two signature features: lace and beading.
“When I design, I always look to bridal and lingerie for inspiration. I think there’s something so feminine and alluring for women in both categories, and I think both types of garments should be incorporated into everyday clothing.”
Despite her age, Fong’s brand has been long in the making. Graduating from Greenwich High School in 2008, she attended The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. While there, she interned for companies including Tocca, Stella McCartney, Vera Wang, JCrew and Maggie Boutique, learning merchandising, sales and public relations. Her longest internship was with Oscar de la Renta, where she worked alongside his design director for nearly three years.
“When I was at Oscar, I was told by someone I admired, ‘Designers design best in their 20s.’ I kind of took that advice to heart and really just went for it.”
During this time, Fong also began freelancing custom work for brides, mothers of the bride and bridesmaids, as well as those with a gala to attend. She was so successful that clients began asking about the potential for her own brand.
“I knew it was very important that when you start a brand, you not only have to be creative, but you really have to know the business side. You can make beautiful clothes, but if you can’t sell them appropriately, it’s harder to make a company successful.”
Fong ambitiously launched Katie Fong LLC in January of 2013, using her parents’ home in Greenwich as a workspace. Soon after, the company relocated to a workspace in New York’s Garment District, where it has been for two years.
Fong’s collection is available at Richards of Greenwich and Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco and through taigan.com. For custom orders, clients can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more, visit katiefong.com.