Empowering Women Through Fashion
By Celia Li
Striving to make it in New York City can be challenging—in many ways stressful and exciting at the same time. Every day is a battle. We live to impress in this city full of competitions, but many of us choose this struggling lifestyle. We constantly run out of time, and try to be everywhere at once. Among us working girls, there are the leading few that ace the game in looking the part: always fashionable—and on time, no less. Many of them have designer, Mimi Wong, to thank.
Mimi Wong started the elite women’s ready-to-wear label, Minan Wong, in New York City, after 20 years of designing for notable fashion houses such as Donna Karan and Eileen Fisher. Since then, the brand has been gaining wide recognition in the industry for its sustainability practices. However, to Mimi and her customers, the brand identifies itself through its designs.
The designs are based on simple, yet classic silhouettes appropriate for the office, but sets itself apart with impeccable attention to lines, symmetry, and its feminine touches. Whether it be a blazer with intricate lace panels peeking out from under the sleeves, or a top that simply alludes to the bare should effect without actually showing skin; Mimi’s understanding of how to make a woman stand out in style, while looking strikingly professional in an outfit quickly gained her a loyal following among the city’s top achievers.
"These women are powerful. They work 10 hours a day or more. They travel, they hold really high positions in the company. They don’t want to think about what they’re wearing—they want to feel really supported."
While our new CEOs don’t have to think twice about putting on a Minan Wong piece, this CEO certainly put a lot of thought into creating it. Every aspect of the brand close to her heart—from the name (short for Mimi Nan Wong) to how she chooses to run the company. To Mimi, ethical and sustainable practices are not selling points, but responsibilities. She does not stop at meeting standards such as using eco-friendly fabrics and paying fair wages to market the brand, but strives to live up to her own values of being fair to the environment, the workers, and the customers through the company.
"It should be our responsibility [as a company] to make this journey, and not have to sell it to the consumers."
The journey begins by designing each piece with purpose in mind. When sustainable fabrics are not an option, Mimi focuses on increasing longevity and reducing energy to maintain the piece overtime. For example, one of the the brand’s most popular styles, The Leafy Lace Dress, is designed to hold its shape after machine washing and does not require dry cleaning. She works with factories in NYC closely and only produces exclusive runs, giving her craftsmen the time they need to perfect each piece and eliminate waste from overproduction. Her business operates locally to limit the size of its carbon footprint, and customers can trust that items never go on huge discounts because everything is priced true to its worth.
At the end of the day, it’s all about giving her customers something substantial. It’s not only about what lies in the quality of her products, but how it compliments the women who wear it as well. “People should be able to see the women before the clothes,” and while each piece is a statement, it’s never loud. In the age of flashy trends and brand names, it’s refreshing to be reminded how what many of us really want is for people to turn heads because “you look amazing”, rather than because “I love your top/dress/skirt.”