Trish Peng was born and raised in Auckland and attended Senior College. Her aunty in Taiwan is a tailor, but as far as a history of fashion in the family goes, that’s about it; everyone else is in medicine.
“Dad’s Malaysian Chinese, and Mum’s Taiwanese, so I guess I’m a Chiwi!” Peng said.
Ever since she was a little girl, around age seven, Peng knew she wanted to be a designer.
“Like most Chinese parents Mum and Dad wanted me to be a lawyer/doctor but I had my mind set and they have been the biggest support since.”
Peng started out doing a part time diploma at NZ Academy of Fashion design while she was at high school. After that she studied at Whitecliffe College and graduated with a BFA in Fashion Design.
Peng thinks a formal education is important for the work that she does.
“You need to learn the technical skills to be able to do the pattern making/sewing yourself or to manage a team of staff. You need to be knowledgeable enough to give them direction, as sometimes what you design, may not necessarily be able to be produced.
“However I don’t think fashion design requires the four years that I did. I think if you want to start your own brand, a business paper would be very beneficial to take.”
Peng is the creative director of Trish Peng Ltd, which focuses on bespoke evening and bridal gown design.
“So my job is to come up with all things creative – from designing collections for Evening and Bridal, as well as designing the perfect dress for my client’s special occasion.”
Peng is sharing her time between LA and Auckland this year with the plan to open a showroom in LA this year.
She said people skills are important for her work.
“Knowing how to deal with each bride’s personality – especially if they request something that I don’t necessarily like! It’s about talking them through what will suit them better and putting my design aesthetic into it.”
Peng’s job has taught her about networking, how to design for every woman’s different body shape, and making the most of every opportunity that comes her way.
Peng attributes success at such a young age to her parents.
“They came to New Zealand with nothing and built their own business, so they’ve always inspired me to start my own.”
She started her brand while she was in year three at Whitecliffe, and did her first solo show at Stonyridge Vineyard, Waiheke in January 2012.
“I entered every competition I could to get my name out there. From there I started building a little clientele creating custom-made dresses and then people started requesting if I could do Bridal Gowns and I thought… why not, it’s just white right – but it’s definitely more technical than that, with a lot more intricate detailing, more fittings with meticulous brides. “That was when I found my love for designing weddings gowns as it’s the most precious dress anyone will own in their life time and it is a rewarding journey being at each step of planning their dream wedding.”
Peng’s goal has always been to be the next Vera Wang, and to expand Trish Peng internationally as a global brand, starting with the LA market which is where she’ll be spending the majority of her time this year.
“I’m very fortunate to have a great team of investors/a board of mentors including the founder of American Apparel.”
Every day is different for Peng as she’s a creative, but a typical day for her this month has been in LA, setting up the US company infrastructure. She’ll be flying back to Auckland every two to three months to meet with new clients and have fittings with her bride-to-be’s.
“It’s an exciting journey and I love what I do!”