Thomas Pham, with no fashion school background, had a vision and brought it to life that gives hope to the future of fashion. His creation Arraey is a sustainable clothing brand based in Miami, Florida.
Arraey stands out more than most brands do. It’s a definite game-changer. The pieces are designed for durability, to look stylish and most importantly to feel comfortable. It’s made to wear everyday and everywhere no matter what life throws at you. “Arraey makes clothes look professional, but feel active,” says Pham.
We had a chance to talk with Thomas Pham to find out more behind his inspiring brand.
Tell us a little about your background… How did you start the clothing brand Arraey and what inspired you to do it? Many years ago, I worked for a couture designer in NYC making dresses for high profile socialites. I found my way to Miami and spent several years designing clothing and developing performance textiles for brands like Callaway, Original Penguin, and Perry Ellis. In recent years, I’ve had the honor to design high-performance clothes for world class athletes who participated in the 2016 Olympics. I also created the outfit worn by Danny Willett who recently won the Master’s Golf Tournament, and my designs even made it onto a video game.
Arraey is the culmination of my self-made journey. I began with no sewing skills and no fashion school background. I cut my teeth working for a couturier, gained technical and real-world knowledge by developing mass-market athletic apparel for Saks and Neiman Marcus, and have now arrived at my next venture. Arraey brings together my technical knowledge of how fabrics come together to create comfortable performance-inspired clothing that maintains the feeling of craft in the clothing. Craft is what’s missing today in fast fashion clothing, and my customers definitely feel that personal touch in every one of Arraey’s pieces.
Where is Arraey based and where is the clothing made? Arraey is based in Miami, and all of our pieces are meticulously made by the best seamstresses in Miami. I’ve hand-selected everyone I work with, and each piece is hand finished. I work closely with all of the seamstresses working on our pieces to make sure they understand my vision and add the same personal touch found in pieces I personally make. Maintaining the quality of each piece is my biggest priority, and maintaining personal relationships is how I’ll continue to ensure the quality is there in the future as we grow.
Are your fabrics eco-friendly and sustainably sourced? People in the industry know that sustainable fabrics are a bit of an oxymoron. Fabrics and textiles themselves use up resources; material, energy, and water. Having collaborated with textile manufacturers abroad, I view fabrics as either more sustainable or less sustainable based on the manufacturing technique, materials used, and fabric dyeing process.
I’ve carefully tested many fabrics over the years for performance qualities, and merino is a fabric that I’ve selected for many reasons, one of them being that it’s more sustainable. Merino decomposes relatively quickly compared to most synthetics, which can sometimes take centuries to decompose. Merino is created from collected sheep hair. In recent years, the merino industry has emphasized protecting and preserving the land that the sheep graze on while maintaining the efficiency of their land.
Part of the reason I’ve chosen to build Arraey in Miami is the positive influence I can have right here where I’m based out of. I’m collaborating with the Upcycle Project to bring attention to our disconnection with clothing, and how we consume more than we use. Upcycle Project will be collecting discarded and vintage clothing from local dry cleaners, and I’ll upcycling them to bring new life to waste.
Does Arraey do anything to help the planet? Having worked closely with factories and textile mills all over the world, I’m very sensitive to the hardship many factory workers face. It’s greatly important for me to give back to these very people who do an honest day’s work and help support my business. As part of our business model, we’re giving back a percentage to the people who make the pieces. My bigger vision is to setup a non-profit that supports education for children of the same seamstresses and factory workers.
Are you only online or do you have a store front? We’re an online only store right now. It helps us reduce cost, support workers and ultimately pass those savings onto the consumer. If you examine the fabrics and trims that we use, they are typically found in retail garments that are 2 to 3 times more expensive. Value is extremely important for our brand, and we’ll continue to put the value in these personal touches that make our pieces unique.
As a direct to consumer business, I can curate the experience that customers have when they receive the product. While traveling to Japan, I studied the art of gift wrapping in order to create Arraey’s own packaging. I created our own wrapping technique that doesn’t require tape and uses less paper.
What is the story behind the name Arraey? Arraey is a word play on the concept of assortment. i.e. array. It’s also a mindset when I look at people and their relationship to clothing. I see people as a series of measurements and my job is to make them look flattering. I often times play a game with myself (and customers) trying to guess what their size is and what their body measurements are.
How many employees does Arraey currently have? Much like Frank Lloyd Wright, I have complete control over my vision but have educated others in my vision to create the pieces you see today. I make all of the patterns, develop and select all of the fabrics, and I always personally make the first of every new design that we release on our website. Having that hands-on experience gives me insight into both the development process required to maintain quality, but it also keeps my connection to the art of creating. I never want to lose that connection to how pieces come together and the tactile experience of putting thread through fabric.
What type of style does the brand represent? Arraey is a reflection of the modern-day creative professional who appreciates luxury and fine touches, values comfort, and expects their clothes to last.
Do you carry both women and men clothing? We have pieces for both men and women. Some of our pieces are androgynous. At the beginning, when I started Arraey, I focused on creating the perfect t-shirt. Some of my male customers jokingly complained of their girlfriends stealing it for their own closet. Almost out of necessity, I began working on the perfect t-shirt for women as well. When you visit our website, you’ll see both versions of the first piece I created for the line.
What’s next for Arraey? In the coming year, we’ll continue to develop seasonal and classic pieces and grow our online presence. Lately, I’ve been very inspired by hooks and hardware. I love the challenge of translating modern-luxury and craft into another medium. We’re currently developing some everyday jewelry pieces that complement our line.
I’m very excited for the collaborations and installations we have planned in Miami with Upcycle Project and some amazing organizations. It’s incredibly important for me to continue supporting other organizations by working on unique collaborative projects that can grow their presence and build the future of Miami.