Derek Lam is an American fashion designer. He was born in San Francisco, California and is of Chinese American parentage. Lam is the youngest of three children in his fourth-generation family. His parents had a business that imported clothes from Asia, and his grandparents ran a successful garment factory in San Francisco that specialized in bridal and wedding dresses. As a child he would sit with the seamstresses, "adoring the wedding gowns."
Lam graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1990. Lam began working as an assistant for Michael Kors in the 90s and worked there for four years. Lam then moved to Hong Kong to work for a large retail brand. Following his Hong Kong experience, Derek returned to New York and was appointed vice President of Design for Michael Kors' Kors line.
In 2003, he launched his own label. He debuted at the New York Fashion Week in September 2003. In 2005, Lam won the CFDA Perry Ellis Swarovski Award for new designers and started his own line of clothes. In addition to clothes, Derek Lam also has a line of shoes and jewelry. In February 2010, Derek Lam launched an e-commerce website selling an edited collection of ready-to-wear and accessories.