Philipp Plein Is Building An Unstoppable Fashion Empire By Breaking Rules And Taking Risks
“Simplicity is boring,” says Philipp Plein. The German designer is unfiltered and proud of it. In the world of high fashion, he is going about his own way—good or bad, that is for people to decide.
Despite the mixed bag of positive and negative press surrounding his collections, he is a successful entrepreneur. The Philipp Plein International Group, which he founded in 1998 and helms, is an independent, self-financed and debt-free company that reportedly generates an average of US$300m in annual revenue.
The outspoken designer shares that he has been a nonconformist since high school and admits to having made his fortune by being loud and over the top. “I think conformism begins when you start compromising your beliefs and following what other people think. I’ve always acted the way I wanted to, no matter what, while pursuing my own idea of style. And I’m glad it worked!” says the 41-year‑old, who is famous for his blinged-out sneakers, sequin-studded sportswear and diamante‑adorned dresses.
Interestingly, it was Plein’s nonconformist attitude that prompted former Vogue Paris editor Carine Roitfeld to work with him as his brand consultant. In one interview, she mentioned that she was “attracted” to his being “different”. Together, the fashion darling and the fashion revolutionary formed the most uncanny partnership.
Plein embodies his baller status to perfection. Like his clothes, his personal life—shared with 1.9 million Instagram followers—is just as ostentatious. “Go big or go home” is his philosophy, and he loves showing off his collection of luxury cars and snapshots of his decadently decorated home with crystal chandeliers and furniture swathed in crocodile leather.
Success manifests in the most unexpected ways and that is clearly evident in his case. The former lawyer and untrained fashion designer started creating furniture for family and friends before slowly working his way into fashion by making bags and accessories with leftover leather.
Today, Plein’s group has four brands targeted at different markets: Philipp Plein, Plein Sport, Plein Kids, and Billionaire Couture, which is for a more mature demographic. He has over 100 boutiques worldwide, and his largest market is China, where he currently has seven standalone stores. Earlier this year, the first Philipp Plein store in Southeast Asia, a two-storey duplex, opened at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
When it comes to his runway presentations, “there is no limit” to the craziness, says Plein, whose shows are usually produced by Etienne Russo, who is also the creative mind behind Chanel’s elaborate fashion show sets. Plein settles for only the best in the business, which is why he has no qualms about spending millions on each of his runway shows. His sets have included a roller coaster, a cowboy city, monster trucks, jet skis in a pool and a skate park.
(Related: Rachel Wee And Her Husband Ken Chen Are Ready For A Night Out In Philipp Plein)
His preference for maximalism is not just tied to his vanity; he wants it for his customers, too. “I always listen to them and make brave decisions based on what I think they would want to see.” And what do they want? Like him, they want to stand out from the crowd—never mind what others think. They also won’t even bat an eye when splashing out on say, a military parka with appliques and Swarovski crystals or an embellished black denim jacket, both of which are Plein’s personal favourites. “They are the epitome of the Philipp Plein style,” he quips.
Simply put, when it comes to the man and his fans, the more attention-grabbing the item is, the more well‑received it will be. This is undoubtedly a winning formula for Philipp Plein.
(Related: Philipp Plein Opens First Store In Southeast Asia At Marina Bay Sands)