Some of today’s most prominent luxury brands and designers have embraced the influence of streetwear. The late designer Virgil Abloh utilized his previous endeavors from Pyrex and Off-White to create timeless pieces for Louis Vuitton. UK-brand Palace was one of the first streetwear labels to collaborate with the iconic Polo Ralph Lauren label. And with time, streetwear will only get more recognition, as this clothing style is currently speculated to be valued at $185 billion, according to Strategy&. But that popularity is only sustainable with the introduction of new creatives and designers in the game, and that’s where The Hype comes into play. HBO Max’s latest series brings some of the best up-and-coming designers in streetwear together to bring new designs and perspectives to the forefront.
There was a set of 12 designers from all over the country sporting their talents in front of three heavy hitters within fashion, multi-platinum recording artist Offset, stylist and creative director for IVY PARK, Marni Senofonte, and UNION LA co-owner and streetwear designer, Bephie Birkett. Ohio native designer, Khanh Ngo, was one of the finalists on the show, and brought the Midwest to the map with streetwear-infused workwear pieces. We sit down with the entrepreneur in an exclusive That’s 5 interview to learn more about his influences and his time on the show.
What influences you?
There are so many things that influence me. My biggest inspiration are my parents, their story, their journey. Overall every day I find influence. It can come from music, going out seeing people, I love vintage so when I am out shopping or hitting up a flea market my eyes and ears are always open. I’m a fan of great taste and lifestyles so I gather inspiration from home interiors, furniture, and cars, so overall my inspiration is just life.
What’s an overrated style trend that you see currently?
I honestly appreciate just about everyone’s style so I don’t really see what’s overrated. I do notice a trend that is popping off, I think when you say overrated it comes out like a hater. I feel Balenciaga is really popping. Demna is killing it right now.
What’s an underrated trend that you wish to see more of?
I think currently right now the prep look is a bit underrated. I know mad people are wearing cardigans but not a super overall prep look. I definitely see it from A$AP Nast & Tyler, the Creator, but it’s a bit underrated right now. Excited for Brendon Babenzien’s role at J. Crew. I have a feeling he can bring that vibe back. I love what he is doing over at J. Crew.
What are you most excited about, right now?
As of right now, I’m excited to see what happens next. Being on The Hype was dope being able to put on for my family and friends, Ohio, my South Vietnamese culture, it’s been dope.
What’s next for you?
A lot of cool things, I’ve been working on putting tasteful things for Made & Co. Gallery. I’m also planning to push Sourced By N⋆G⋆O, selling pieces and vintage hand selected by me. I am also launching my cut and sew line N⋆G⋆O, something I’ve been really wanting to do for a long time so it’s long overdue. I’m so excited to share my vision with the world. Along with N⋆G⋆O, I am going to push a denim lab where I will be taking made-to-order orders for my 1/1 denim. I’m also going to be at ComplexCon this year. It’s dope to be able to have a booth, I’ve attended ComplexCon for a few years now and said it would be dope to do that so now it’s happening. In early September, I took a head design of apparel role for LeBron’s company Uninterrupted. It’s a full circle moment for me, especially being from Ohio. To work for LeBron James is just iconic and I’m blessed to join, help, build, and share my vision. Last year he wore a pair of my upcycled 1-of-1 Levi’s and now this is happening so you just never know what happens. Always stay grounded and continue to work and build.
Bonus Question: What learnings from The Hype will you take with you as a designer/entrepreneur?
There were a lot of things I learned being on The Hype. Time management was one. I came with literally nothing so I had to make blocks and then patterns while everyone was already cutting fabric with the patterns they had brought. By the time I was getting the patterns right, people were sewing and moving forward so I had to learn how to work fast but manage my time in order to get the most out of the day. Like Virgil Abloh said “There’s Nothing More Precious Than Time” so it’s important to know how to manage your time. Lastly, something I practice in life, even before the show, is to remain humble and this is important when you are a designer because we face both good and bad days. We meet so many people, some who inspire, so it’s always good to stay grounded because you were once that hungry inspired youngin’ trying to get to it. I appreciate everyone on the show. We share this love for streetwear and we have to continue to keep this thing alive.