Louis Vuitton Paris’ First Thai Designer

Thailand is never in short supply of insanely talented designers. With their skills second to none, some take their expertise to dizzying new heights, unleashing it to the global fashion world. Among them is Arpanut “Mint” Osothsongkroh, a rising designer who’s worked with major luxury brands such as Alexander Wang, BOYY Bag, and Louis Vuitton.

A degree from Silpakorn’s faculty of Painting Sculpture and Graphic Arts doesn’t mean that you’d end up surrounded by just sculptures and paintings. In Mint’s case, it provided her with a solid foundation on which to build a career in design. For the uninitiated, Mint is the first Thai designer to be working with the world renowned luxury brand Louis Vuitton in Paris  after deciding to quit her day job to follow her dreams of creating her own brand of handbags.

In the Beginning

“My interest in design began when I was in high school. I liked collecting a lot of used shoes and bags, so after school, I would hop on the ferry to Wang Lang, thrifting for shoes with a unique design. I was really into conceptual art at the time, which made me decide to study Fine Arts. In my third year, I noticed that my sketchbooks were full of shoe sketches (laughs). Knowing that it’d be difficult to work in this field without a degree in fashion and relevant experience, I had to collect those sketches and tried to secure an internship first.”

How’s your career going so far?

“After building my portfolio for a while, I sent an email to all my favorite brands, probably 20 of them or so. Then, the HR at Alexander Wang in New York got in touch, which led me to a six-month internship in the shoes department. I was very lucky to have this opportunity as my first work experience. The fact that it was a paid internship made me really happy, too. The team there was quite small and since there were only three of us, I got to see the whole process up close and personal. After the end of that internship, I felt that my fashion experience was still inadequate. A lot of my friends who were studying fashion abroad had a chance to go on a placement year, which I think is a really good thing regardless of how the experience would turn out in the end. After New York, I managed to secure another internship at Yang Li in London. It was a small studio with only five full-time staff and seven interns. I applied to intern in the shoes department, but since the brand was so small, I ended up helping them with almost everything—womenswear, menswear, and accessories. I was clueless but it gave me a chance for me to try new things. When I finished that internship, I came back to Thailand and worked as a designer at BOYY.”

How did you start working for LV?

“I worked at BOYY for about 3 years, but deep down I always wanted to create my own brand. I was approaching 30 and afraid I would be burnt out, so I decided to quit my job at BOYY. During my last month with BOYY, the head designer texted me, telling me that LV had been looking for a designer and asked me if I was interested in applying. Honestly, I was excited and also a little unsure. I quit my job because I wanted to start my own thing. On second thoughts, I realized that opportunities like this don’t come around very often, so I gave it a try. As luck would have it, I happened to be in New York at the time time as the senior designer at LV, so I ended up having a job interview with him there, which eventually led me to the position at LV.”

What was your responsibility at LV? What was it like working with a team of foreign designers?

“My responsibility at LV was designing women’s commercial handbags and sometimes I also helped pitch runway ideas. Since handbags are the house’s main product, there were a lot of teams involved. Each designer from each team works independently, starting from design sketches, design development all the way to the final stage before the products go on sale. We each had our own responsibility. It was a good system because you’re pretty much in control of everything. We also had to collaborate with other departments like spare parts, tailors, leather, fabric and such.”

Workplace obstacles?

“If there’s one, I’d have to say it’s the French language. Even though I’m lucky to be working in the design team where English is mainly spoken, liaising with other departments would have been so much easier if I spoke French. I mean most people there do speak English, but sometimes we have communication problems. I’m learning French at the moment, so it’ll probably be a while before I can speak it.

How’s life and work during the Covid-19 pandemic?

“Honestly, I’m very lucky to still have my job during this whole lockdown otherwise I would have gone crazy. During those two months, it was just me and my boss working together because all my colleagues were on vacation at the time. I didn’t really have time to breathe, having to get up for Zoom meetings and working ‘till late, dealing with our messenger. It was kind of fun, actually.”

What’s next for you?

“After leaving LV, I think it’s time for me to finally start something of my own. Taking it one day at the time is perhaps the way to go. Having said that, if there are other opportunities coming in, I’m all for it.”