Catching Up With New York Designer Peter Som About His New Ventures

Peter Som has reunited with Anthropologie to launch an exclusive collection.

The New York-based designer collaborated with the retailer in 2013, sharing a fondness for color, pattern and print. Describing the just-launched line as “happy and optimistic clothes,” Som is designing under his own name for the first time since he shut down his signature business in 2015. He said the collaboration allowed him to dip his toe back in with his brand and to do something fun. “Now more than ever, the idea of happy, colorful, effortless clothes is what we’re looking for,” he said.

Immersed in the food and lifestyle space, as indicated by his site’s content, Som has been working with brands in those sectors in recent years, while also consulting in the fashion arena with other brands. Acknowledging the strange times that the coronavirus crisis has created throughout the world, Som said the pandemic “has given him time to take the blinders off to think about the possibilities of what can be.”

While the prospect of reviving his signature collection is a never-say-never situation, Som’s main fashion focus now is on Anthropologie. The new lineup of separates, dresses and jumpsuits is offered in inclusive sizing from 00P to 26W. “Universally sized clothing should be the standard now. Clothing should be for everybody. I have friends and relatives of all shapes and sizes, who all want to look great, feel fabulous and wear great clothes,” he said.

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Som created all the prints that are featured in the Anthropologie line. The Greek islands and a sense of escapism provided inspiration. “Everyone is yearning for that sense of escape now, even if we can’t go there right now. Hopefully, we are bringing a little taste of it to people’s homes,” he said.

More recently, his culinary skills and his recipes have gotten a lot of attention on his site and beyond. The site was relaunched last fall with more of a lifestyle scope to encompass fashion, food, design and living. Pinterest tapped Som to be part of its creators class to help launch their version of Instagram Stories. Having been creating content mostly in the food space, his videos have been getting upward of five million impressions.

”Whereas Pinterest maybe before was about people pinning other people’s pictures and that kind of thing, this is really about user-created content. So I’m posting my recipes and instructional videos. It’s really exciting and a great way for Pinterest to evolve and grow,” Som said.

Interestingly, some of Som’s contemporaries like Phillip Lim, Zac Posen and Lela Rose have ventured into the food and lifestyle side of the business. Som said, “I always say the three basic needs in life are food, clothing and shelter. For many years, [I thought] ‘How do I make clothing into fashion?’ How does one make food into cuisine or shelter into a home? It’s that thought and extra care. We’re lucky to do those things and take time to think about these things.…Cooking has always been part of my life.…We don’t have to be boxed in any more to be one thing. I feel like I can do it all.”

Speaking on the last day of the latest edition of New York Fashion Week, Som laughed when asked if he misses it. “Listen — there is nothing like the rush of a show and the magic that happens there with the models, the outfits and the audience. I am so happy to have done many years of fashion shows and having felt that level of amazing electricity. So yeah, there’s always a part of me that will miss it, but I am also excited for what’s ahead,” he said.

Asked if he believes that the industry is making strides with diversity, Som said, “I think so. Definitely, it’s taken a while. It’s taken something like [the police killing of] George Floyd and Black Lives Matter to put a horrifying visual to what many people have known for a very long time. Now it’s starting to happen and change has to happen at every level, not just with models, but at the corporate level and in C-suites. All areas need change and need diversity. It enriches everybody’s experience. It is only a good thing. So we’re getting there.”

Having ridden out the past year primarily in New York City, Som said seeing the city’s resilience, grit and heart has made him love it even more. Not about to forecast the demise of urban juggernauts like Manhattan, Som said, “To me, it never really went anywhere. It just kind of took a nap and it will be back. This is where creativity is, freshness, diversity. It’s New York. It’s never going anywhere. It’s going to evolve as all places do. It’s always been a constantly evolving organism. That’s just part of what New York is. It’s just moving on to its next iteration.”

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