How Did They Manage That? In the brutally combative world of fashion that turns its attention to Fashion Week in New York City—as it did just a few weeks ago—Houston stood out in a way that a destination never does because the globally famous designer, Vivienne Tam, wove the theme of Houston and its space-connected activities and attractions through much of her new collection for 2017. In fact, NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson started the Tam show from the International Space Station’s Mission Control, which is part of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. And now, the Houston-inspired collection will be sold in Tam’s 167 stores around the world.
Whether it was chance, kismet or positive karma, it has happened and the destination is enjoying the attention that Tam has generated for it.
But we can dismiss chance. The Houston score has its beginning more than a half-dozen years ago when Tam got the notion for a device for a woman to tote a digital notebook around. The model she liked was an HP product, created by HP/Compaq, which is based in Houston. (A brief note here: Tam is a bit of a techie herself; she attended Hong Kong Polytechnic University. And she is never without her digital equipment.). The collaboration, which involved visits to Houston, was a “digital clutch,” introduced during Fashion Week 2009 in New York City.
It was during one of Tam’s visits to Houston that, by chance, Tam was introduced to Mike Waterman, the president of Visit Houston. The long story, short version, is that Tam the techie, who already had an inkling of an inspiration for some kind of space-themed line received all the help necessary from Waterman and his staff, who connected her with the appropriate contacts and Space Center officials. The Space Center, by the way, attracts nearly a million visitors annually.
The Tam connection is certain to benefit Houston in myriad ways, in particular her connection to the international travel source market that is China, where she is well-known. The Houston celebrity connection to China, however, pre-dates Vivienne Tam. Retired basketball superstar Yao Ming, who played for the NBA’s Houston Rockets from 2002-2011 and helped popularize the NBA in China, is from Shanghai, China’s largest urban source market for U.S. inbound travel from the country. And Visit Houston stays very active in the market. Tam now lives in New York, but regards Houston as her next favorite U.S. city.
Finally—and there is much, much more—Tam, Women’s Wear Daily reports, Tam is expected to take her show to Houston before February’s 2017 Super Bowl at NRG Stadium and then to Mexico and Asia. At the February event, Visit Houston will sponsor her after party. Tam also plans to return to her new second favorite city to give at talk at NASA’s Wearables Lab.
For those interested in the Houston, space-themed works—the collection also features work inspired by the Houston rodeo and has other “Houston-centric” touches— in Tam’s collection for 2017, click on this link: