A Fireside Chat with Donna Zhong, Founder of Donna Zhong Official
“I want to offer women clothing that are designed to be minimal, but with the ability to maximize their closets and outfits.” — Donna Zhong, founder of Donna Zhong Official.
A Chinese American who grew up between Singapore and San Francisco, Donna Zhong is the soul behind the New York City-based namesake label Donna Zhong Official. Founded about two years ago, the brand offers modern-day women versatile pieces that are suitable for various occasions. The brand is also known for creating pieces that can be worn different ways.
Much like her personal style, Donna’s collections feature modern and minimal pieces with subtle luxe details. Instead of loud designs, Donna focuses on making every item wearable from day to night, and from work to play. In fact, a lot of her pieces are perfect to bring when travelers want to pack light, too.
Prior to creating her own line, Donna worked with well-known brands such as Marc Jacobs and Jason Wu. Attention-to-detail is definitely one of the greatest attributes that Donna possess. Her creativity often stems from a simple idea like a drape of a cloth or a personal life experience.
Read on to learn more about Donna’s brand story and her journey.
Tell us more about how the brand started. Why did you decide to create your own label?
Fashion Design was my major. I started out working as a Design Coordinator in Jason Wu right after I graduated. Five years later, I got the opportunity to work at Marc Jacobs as a Technical Designer for two years. The experiences were so priceless and beyond valuable to me, yet I always had this urge of creating something I could call my own. Therefore, I decided to quit my 9-5 job and to start Donna Zhong Official. This wouldn’t have been possible without my two amazing partners, Kandyce, who focuses on the financial and legal side of the business, and Tiffany, who is in charge of the brand visuals and graphic design.
If your clothing pieces were to tell a story, what story do you think they will tell?
If my pieces were to tell a story, it would be about a woman who is strong and independent, who cannot be defined by anyone but herself, who is in control of the multiple roles she plays on a daily basis.
I also imagine a typical Donna Zhong wearer to be someone who often travels for work, as she could minimize her luggage with pieces that can be worn two or more ways. She knows that traveling light doesn’t mean sacrificing style.
We want to create clothes and accessories that are high-quality for modern-day women. Our pieces are designed for everyday wear — whether it is for casual, leisure days, for work and events, or for traveling. One of our brand signatures derive from pieces that can be worn two or more ways. We want to redefine the look of a “minimal closet” and the meaning of “traveling light.”
What do you think makes your products different from other brands?
Our design philosophy is to create designs that are chic and elegant, but provides women with confidence and great comfort. Women today play multiple roles throughout a day, and many pieces from my collection fulfill those parts with ease anytime of the day. And if you were to take a closer look, you will always find subtle luxe details in every piece.
Tell us about your 2 favorite pieces from the current collections?
I love an easy long coat. One of my favorite pieces is our herringbone Double Face Robe Coat, since basically, I get two coats in one! It can be worn as grey wool coat as it is, but turn it inside out for a completely different look, featuring a solid black body with contrast ivory binding details.
I also love our velvet knit styles as the fabric is so luxurious and soft to touch. The velvet pieces come in styles including a short-sleeve tee, a long-sleeve tee, easy skirt, a maxi dress and wide leg cropped pants. These are perfect to travel with — from going to the airport to being out and about exploring new places.
Let’s talk about the Spring 2019 collection that is now available on your website.
The Spring ‘19 collection continues my simple and minimal style, but I’ve added a feminine touch to the pieces. The overall style is a bit more romantic, but essentially versatile like my other collections. I’ve incorporated a mix of different types of materials, including sheer checkered silk cotton, hammer satin and crinkled chiffon. The materials diversify the collection and together, adds a softer touch to the design style.
For someone like me, who really prefers black and white pieces, and neutral tones, this collection means a lot to me because I stepped out of my comfort zone to include bolder colors and patterns. But of course, my designs are generally still kept clean and minimal.
I want women wearing pieces from this collection to feel comfortable and be able to be carefree, too. I want them to feel elegant and put together wherever they are in my pieces. They may be going to the park for a picnic, shopping with friends, or enjoying themselves somewhere else, away from the city.
What can we expect from Donna Zhong over the next few years?
Donna Zhong is a young company where I see talents not by experience but passion within. I love to hire interns or fresh graduates if they are a good fit. I love to work with people who feels connected to the job, but not just in it for the money. In the next few years, we plan to continue expand the company to recruit more talents in all different areas. And besides offering high quality clothing, we would love to develop accessories such as handbags, shoes and jewelry, as well as home products such as candles, textile and ceramics.
Click here to see what we’re currently doing with Donna Zhong Official.
Thank you for reading!