Gaultier, Galliano, and More: PRIX Founder, Esther Ng Opens Up Her Archive
Whether we’re aware of it or not, our roots are deeply embedded in our personal style. Especially when it comes to working in a creative industry, those roots find themselves wrapped around our most fruitful, authentic ideas—ripe with success and woven with narratives. For Esther Ng, these roots are illuminated through her personal Gaultier collection, noting her mother as a primary inspiration, and extend as far as her own causative ventures—namely, her label PRIX. Refreshingly candid and relaxed, her wardrobe is as no-fuss fun as her designs. We recently spoke with Esther to find out how exactly she finds these amazing pieces, what inspires her personal design philosophy, and how her unique roots have influenced her endeavors in fashion today.
Photography by Namasjo.
You have an amazing archive. What do you look for when you’re buying a new piece?
I really only started collecting Gaultier based on nostalgia for how my mum used to dress. I remember my mum being really into the mesh tops in the early 2000s, and, as I’m getting older, I’m starting to realize her influence more and more. More importantly, Gaultier is the uncontested king of graphics and a lot of the pieces I’ve bought are for the sole purpose of existing in my closet to be admired.
Any pro-tips you could give someone looking to start their own archival collection?
One thing everyone should have in their closet: Something that makes you happy.
One thing everyone should purge from their closet: Something that doesn’t.
Favorite vintage/thrift spots in New York City or beyond:
I mostly shop online. It depends on what I’m buying, but I’ll usually visit second-hand marketplaces like eBay, Grailed/Heroine or Depop. My friends have really cool stores too: No Signal in Atlanta, SSeeing_Red in Paris and Empty R_ _m of Japan. At the moment, I’m in London and loving Beyond Retro and Retro Man- both recommendations from friends. But the vintage I wear the most is from thrifting in Tokyo or army surplus stores in China.
Perfection is the enemy of progress.
What’s it like having major celebrities like Kylie Jenner wearing your pieces? How did those relationships even come about?
It’s pretty surreal. Kylie wore a bunch of PRIX maybe 4 months into the brand, which was crazy because I was still in Auckland, only 21, and working out of the same place I slept. I’ve never reached out to stylists or anything, (not that I knew how to anyway). So, to have them all hit up my tiny brand for clothes for their huge clients that I had advertised solely through Instagram was really encouraging. It reminded me that geography really doesn’t determine whether or not you’ll be successful at all.
Can you tell us about your personal design philosophy and how that translates to your everyday life?
It’s pretty obvious in the entire brand’s existence that I’ve never taken myself too seriously (most my pieces are named after video games). I don’t shy away from cuts or styles that other brands might deem at risk of not returning a profit, and I’m always down to blur the lines between womenswear and menswear. I wear a lot of menswear myself and PRIX was always meant to reflect my personal style as well as how I live my life; spontaneously, with a bit of humor, and always moving forward.
Can you tell us about how the idea for Prix came about?
Although I’ve denied it a lot throughout my life for the sake of not sounding corny (I even tried to distance myself from fashion design by completing 3 years of business school), I’ve always wanted to be involved in fashion, and found myself more frustrated than not when shopping–not being able to find anything that I wanted to buy.
When conceptualizing PRIX, I revisited what was really important to me and what parts of my life I believe to have shaped my personality and my life by extension. the first thing that came to mind was my dad’s car workshop where I spent most of my formative years after school either glued to my Gameboy SP, or on the computer playing Age of Empires or Starcraft with my older brother. This is where the Workshop part comes from. The name is kind of an ode to that, but the funnier story is that I mispronounced PRIX as “PRICKS” during a game of Mario Kart, and the humiliation stuck for so long that it became what it is today.
What’s something you know now about starting your own business that you wish you had known earlier?
Perfection is the enemy of progress. I actually knew this long before I started, and I owe where I am today to being a huge advocate of spontaneity rather than being hung up on the fine details. I’d rather my ideas be out in the world and loved by my customers than pushed aside simply because it wasn’t “perfect.” Remember that nothing ever is!
We know picking a favorite child isn’t easy, but is there a piece from your latest women’s collection that you are particularly excited about?
I’m obsessed with our new Shiva pieces with matching Opera Gloves. No joke, they’re inspired by the WordArt gradient setting I used to mess around with when I still had Microsoft Word XP 2003.