Peter Do made it to the Saturday Night Live stage before ever appearing on a New York runway when host Anya Taylor-Joy wore a silvery slip dress finished with a feather corsage from his fall 2021 collection for her monologue at the show’s season finale last month. That’s not how these things usually go, but Do’s confident, edgy aesthetic has never required a catwalk to get noticed.
Still, the runway is a rite of passage for nascent brands and Do and his 14-person team have decided this is their time. He’s joining the New York Fashion Week schedule and he’s nabbed the opening slot on September 8 at 5 pm. It’s a big moment. Do’s first show will take place amidst a reborn New York Fashion Week, with live events returning for the first time since February 2020. It’s a start-over moment for the industry, and Do, a designer who’s been determined to do things his own way since his start circa 2017—shunning the runway, showing on the men’s calendar to ensure early deliveries, turning his back to the camera for photographs—has an opportunity to change the standard operating procedure of fashion week while carving out his own niche.
Do promises a “more immersive” experience than what we’d grown used to pre-pandemic. “The focus will return to the show experience and garment artistry, and [will be] less about the surrounding spectacle of fashion week,” he predicts. Here’s a few more of his thoughts on the subject.
The first few times we met you talked specifically about not doing shows. What changed for you?
A physical show is our reaction to a digital overload we’ve all experienced since the start of the pandemic. We’ve arrived at a time where we crave physical touch and intimate experiences. I don’t think every collection needs a show, but it proves to be a successful format when it’s done right. Every season we are one step closer to fully fleshing out the Peter Do world, and with our own bags (handmade in Italy) debuting for spring 2022, the universe feels more complete. To show for the first time finally feels “right” at this moment.
Spring 2022 promises to be a busy week of shows in New York. What will make the Peter Do show stand out?
Our show will be a hybrid of digital and IRL, blurring the line between what is real and what is not. There is a duality in the nature of all our processes and we are always pushing the boundaries of the liminal space that exists between the digital world and real life. It’s always been very important for us to have offline moments as a family even though the brand was built on the internet. We’ve made so many memories watching old shows together and dreaming of one day creating one ourselves.
This show is an opportunity for us to establish, rekindle, and strengthen connections within our community, while also in turn highlighting all the ways in which these communities have supported us since day one. We want the show to be a space where our team members, family, friends, buyers, fans and supporters, and the technicians who have worked on the collection can come together and celebrate.
How do you think fashion shows will be different in a post-COVID world?
We anticipate shows becoming more immersive experiences for attendees, both in-person and digitally. The focus will return to the show experience and garment artistry, and less about the surrounding spectacle of fashion week.
What is the most important learning from the pandemic that you're taking with you?
We have always heavily relied on instinct to guide us in all aspects of the brand since its inception. Whether in our internal processes or with front-facing projects, as a small team with limited resources, we make the most out of any situation at hand. While undoubtedly challenging, the obstacles we’ve faced (and overcome) through the pandemic have reminded us of what we’ve known all along—to always do what feels right.
Last one, why do you pose for photos with your back turned?
Since day one, I made the decision to let the clothes speak for themselves. I also want to protect my privacy as much as I can. I’m just a stand in—a vocal one—for a larger culture. Four years ago when we started there were five of us in my tiny living room dreaming up Peter Do. Vincent Ho (sales), Jessica Wu (communications), An Nguyen (designer), Lydia Sukato (operations), and me. I said if you don’t want to do this together then there’s no chance to make something great; I can’t do it alone. We’ve made sure that the culture of Peter Do is greater than one person. It’s also the audiences that we reach that aren’t part of the traditional system who aren’t in private rooms in Paris, Milan, and NYC; the unsung tailors in NYC (many of whom are Asian immigrants); the showroom models like Maggie Mauer who are critical to how clothes fit but are invisible.
We often show our behind-the-scenes culture as our aesthetic; I guess this includes the family meals we share, the conversations we have that inform the collection, the communities we support when traditional fashion isn’t looking. And to a degree it’s a very Asian-American way of viewing individual accomplishment: Instead of just the culture of one it’s the individual supported within a family and a larger community and culture... I’d like people to take a close look at the clothes, and what goes into making the clothes, especially the people who create the clothes more than only me.