Amongst a rapidly rising crop of New York-based Asian American designers, including bold-faced names like Jason Wu, Alexander Wang and Phillip Lim, is a subset of design talents from the South Asian countries of India and Nepal, who, unlike their peers of Chinese and Taiwanese origin, are not the children, or grandchildren, of immigrants, but first generation immigrants themselves.
Prabal Gurung, winner of the 2011 CFDA Swarovski award for womenswear and a favourite of Michelle Obama, was raised in Kathmandu, Nepal. Bibhu Mohapatra, an Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award-winner, hails from Odisha, a state on the east coast of India. Red carpet favourite Naeem Khan, who dressed Mrs. Obama for her virtual Oscar appearance, was born in Mumbai. And newly anointed CFDA members Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia were raised, respectively, in Mumbai and New Delhi.
Critically, all of these designers also maintain close ties to South Asia and travel back and forth frequently, something they have each leveraged, in their own way, to build their brands and businesses.