Better Bets by Rhonda Erb

A Conversation With Designer Emily Brady Koplar

Emily Brady Koplar

“I have always been interested in design and business and have spent much of my life balancing the creative and the practical.” In another life, Emily Brady Koplar, founder and designer of the women’s clothing line, Wai Ming, might have found herself working in finance or accounting. “I grew up designing, drawing, painting, and sewing while also working at my mom’s office and factory on the weekends. When it came to college, I decided to forgo a degree in fashion design and ended up studying Economics at Boston University.”

After college, Emily decided to follow her heart and enrolled in Parsons School of Design, where she earned her degree in fashion design.  After years spent honing her skills at companies like Ralph Lauren, Aeropostale, and Vivienne Tam, she felt ready to start her own apparel line, Wai Ming, which means “Gift of Light” in Chinese.

“Throughout college and design school, I interned for companies in design, buying, merchandising, and PR.  I was exposed to many different opportunities and facets within the fashion industry and decided that design was still what I wanted to pursue post-graduation. After graduating from Parsons, I worked as a designer for several companies before deciding to start my own line.”

Rhonda: When did you start your fashion line, Wai Ming?

Emily: I launched Wai Ming in 2012 through specialty boutiques.

R: What are your influences for your Wai Ming designs

E: The collections are often inspired by architecture, art, and my travels, but I truly find inspiration anywhere and everywhere. It could come from an interesting woman that I meet or read about, textiles, textures, a font, a sign, a shadow – anything is fair game! Spring/Summer 2018 was inspired by strong architectural lines juxtaposed with floral tiles and the pleats of handmade fans. It’s all tied together with beautifully textured fabrics from Italy and Japan and clean, modern silhouettes.

R: Is there a specific type of Wai Ming customer?

E:I always think of the Wai Ming customer as a strong, dynamic, global woman. She is intelligent, curious, creative, kind and witty. She is a leader in her industry who wants to look effortlessly polished and put together, not stuffy or uptight.  She wants clothes that help her shine and make her feel like she can take on the world. She appreciates quality, subtlety, interesting design details and versatility since she is balancing a demanding work schedule, social engagements, family and travel.

R: Where can Wai Ming be purchased?

 E: You can find Wai Ming online at or at specialty retailers across the country.

R: Anything else that you would like to add about yourself or Wai Ming?

E: The entire line is made in New York with fabrics from Italy and Japan. 
I always design with versatility and comfort in mind. I want my customer to be able to wear pieces in a variety of ways and on multiple occasions.

To see more of Emily’s designs visit:

– Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb writes about fashion, travel and lifestyle from a New Yorker’s perspective in Better Bets. A self-confessed Instagram addict, her work has also appeared in such publications as Runway Magazine. Follow her at: Instagram: @betterbets Twitter: @betterbetsny tumblr:

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