Asian may be the new black, but it’s not a trend! It’s not going anywhere!! It’s here to stay. As Fashion Weeks of New York and the rest of the world, come and go, more and more Asians and Asian Americans are dominating the runways, whether it be as a designer, model or even an attendee.
New York fashion represents an important demographic shift on Seventh Avenue. At the Fashion Week that begins here on Thursday, many of the most promising new designers are of Asian descent, a group that includes Monika Chiang, Alexander Wang and Jason Wu, Son Jung Wan; Prabal Gurung; Phillip Lim; and Bibhu Mohapatra – names that are increasingly likely to represent the future of fashion.
Major design schools around the world have seen an influx of Asian-American and Asian-born students since the 1990s, partly through their own recruitment efforts in countries with rapidly developing fashion industries, like South Korea and Japan, and partly because of changing attitudes in those countries about fashion careers. At Parsons the New School for Design, roughly 70 percent of its international students enrolled in the school of fashion now come from Asia, according to school officials. At the Fashion Institute of Technology, 23 percent of the nearly 1,200 students now enrolled are either Asian or Asian-American.
The rise of Asian designers in America has actually come in several smaller waves, including one that marked the emergence of Anna Sui and Vera Wang in the 1980s. In the last few years, however, as a new generation of designers has asserted itself in New York, Asian-Americans have been at the forefront. In 1995, there were only about 10 Asian-American members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Today there are at least 35.
The cultural changes that have enabled would-be designers to pursue their chosen careers have happened slowly. Ms. Sui told The International Herald Tribune in 2008 that designers of her generation were often asked by their families, “Why do you want to be a dressmaker when you could be a doctor?”
Givenchy’s All-Asian Model Lineup At Haute Couture
This Asian movement is all over the world
In June, Asian designers took center stage at Paris fashion week. From South Korea’s Wooyoungmi’s scorched desert-inspired collection to young Japanese designer Yusuke Takahashi’s colorful exploration of traditional dyeing techniques for Issey Miyake, Asian designers commanded the catwalks at Paris fashion week.
Wooyoungmi – Paris Fashion Week – Menswear
Issey Miyake Autumn/Winter 2013/2014
And now we have Singapore Fashion Week
Well, technically it’s called Audi Fashion Festival Singapore. And it’s part of the Asia Fashion Exchange, a week-long event that includes a traditional trade show (Blueprint), Audi Star Creation (the city’s answer to Project Runway), and the Asia Fashion Summit (a conference targeting Asian retailers co-run by WGSN). There is a Singapore Fashion Week, and like many regional fashion weeks across the globe, the organizers are trying new formats and tactics to make it stand tall against the Big Four.
Over 20,000 people attended Singapore Fashion Week in 2013, up from 13,000 in 2012. The event’s founder, Tjin Lee’s next goal is to get some Asian American designers on the roster. “In the past five years, there’s been a lot more interest in international Asian designers. I think a lot of that has to do with the buying power of Asian customers,” she said. “Alexander Wang, Phillip Lim, Jason Wu: we would love to have those designers out here.”
Suzy Menkes, the International Herald Tribune’s fashion editor, appeared recently on the set of American talk show maven Charlie Rose, along with Diane von Furstenberg and Daphne Guinness. One minute and twenty seconds into the full Charlie Rose show video, Suzy says, “I’m fascinated by the number of Asian designers. You know, it’s really heart-warming to see these young designers — Asian origin, mostly brought-up in New York City or on the West Coast — and they’re creating dresses for the first lady. And they have imagination but they also have a great work ethic. And they’re really coming out as the stars of American fashion week.”
Asians are making serious waves in the fashion pool. All of these game-changers are unique in that they always seem to catch a trend before anyone else does and rock it, whether it’s a cape, a futuristic hairstyle or a theatrical design. Some of our favorite stylish Asian models, designers and actresses are Zhang Ziyi, Li Bingbing, Liu Wen, Rinko Kikuchi, Ji Hye Park (model) and Chanel Iman.
Are you surprised? We’re not! Asian is the new black because finally the world has caught on so in reality it’s the forever black indeed!
Sources: NYTimes, Fashionista, Reuters