Phillip Lim launched his 3.1 Phillip Lim women’s collection in Fall ’05 to instant success, both critically and commercially. And with a specific goal in mind: “We like to create things we want to wear… well-made, stylish, fun, uncomplicated items with unexpected details—hidden pockets, triangular cut-out backs and delicate ruffles made of zippers,” the American designer notes. “Our brand is for people who love clothes, who love to dress and love style.”

Lim feels his new eyewear collection, which made its debut in Spring ’08 and is available from Modo Eyewear, is completely in vein with the 3.1 philosophy—“Classic with a sense of madness. And fun. I especially love the color choices and the unusual frame and lens pairings,” he explains. “Our eyewear is about traditionally favorite styles with little and big details that refine rather than define.”

Although Lim, who was raised in Orange County, Calif., says he was always interested in style and design, he originally planned to go into business, but an epiphany during accounting class at Cal-State Long Beach compelled him to head to the home economics department and enroll in sewing and pattern-making classes. A stint in Paris as an assistant to Katayone Adeli, a fashion designer known for denim and leather, convinced him fashion was his career. He soon moved to Los Angeles and co-founded Label Development in 2000, which attracted a cult following. In 2004, Lim arrived in New York and, with business partner and friend Wen Zhou, launched his own line, naming it 3.1 because they were both 31 at the time. Lim’s first collection sold to Barneys and Fred Segal. He soon gained a wide reputation for being understated, cool and polished. In 2007, Lim received the CFDA Swarovski Award for emerging talent in womenswear. He has since expanded his line to include menswear and kidswear, a complete range of accessories—shoes, boots, belts, bags, seasonal accessories and eyewear. His collections are represented in 45 countries and available in nearly 400 boutiques and department stores worldwide as well as in his own freestanding boutiques in New York’s Soho, West Hollywood and Tokyo.

For Lim, eyewear, both ophthalmic frames and sunglasses, was a logical extension for his brand. “Eyewear is a significant category in the accessories market and is important for building a fashion brand,” Lim notes. “Glasses used to be primarily about function, but now they’re much more about style… even status. I meet people who wear optical glasses even though they have 20/20 vision. Also the fact many people have multiple pairs is a huge indication of the importance of eyewear in accessorizing,” he continues.

“When we decided to launch optical, we picked Modo because we think they make a great product,” Lim says. “I have been incredibly happy with the results. It’s been a great relationship… and learning experience.”    

—Gloria Nicola