Asian and Asian-American designers have been on the rise, especially as the Asian market for luxury goods has expanded with the region’s relatively newfound wealth.
There are several Asian designers who have become close to household names like Wang, who collaborated with H&M this past fall; Vera Wang, and Anna Sui.
It is exciting to know that emerging Asian designers are being heard and established, continuing to have influence.
These days, the numbers are larger: in 2015, 16 of the 72 official New York Fashion Week shows were presented by Asian or Asian-American designers, up from 13 shows the previous year. There were also large group shows sponsored by China and Korea, representing about 21 percent of the total offerings.
The 16 designers (including design teams with an Asian partner) that showed during the 2015 New York Fashion Week season include a range of upstart and more established brands, from powerhouse names such as Derek Lam, Naeem Khan, Vivienne Tam, Prabal Gurung, and Anna Sui–all with established customer bases and in some cases global empires—to new labels.
Some of the newer designers creating buzz are Public School, a label created by native New Yorkers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, and SUNO, a brand led by former Gap designer Erin Beatty and Korean-German-Americandesigner Max Osterweis.
“SUNO is an exciting brand making great strides in conscious fashion,” Jeanine Jeo-Hi Kim, founder and artistic director of the Women & Fashion FilmFest, told NBC News. “The design team of Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty started their company by producing in Kenya, but now produce in India and Peru as well. They work closely with local talent and artisans in these countries. Their success in the industry bodes well for sustainable fashion.”
Korean designers also made a strong showing this season at NYFW, with four of the 16 lines coming from Korean design teams.
The growth of Asian-American and Asian-born fashion students could be attributed to a variety of factors, including self-expression. “With production know-how already in place domestically, fashion education has become more and more popular both abroad and domestically for students in many Asian countries”. “Since the 1990s, major design schools around the world have seen a rise of Asian-American and Asian-born students with changing attitudes about fashion careers…Lifestyle and self-expression are more important, especially for young people and fashion is for many, a means of self-expression.”
Here are some of the fabulous designers:
Anna Sui’s collections take you on a creative journey that is unparalleled in the world of fashion. Mixing vintage styles with her current cultural obsessions, she effortlessly makes hip and exuberant original clothes. Whether Anna’s inspiration is Victorian cowboys, Warhol superstars or Finnish textile prints, her depth of cultural knowledge is always apparent. “When I’m interested in something, I want to know everything about it,” she says, “I need to know what’s behind it all. I really enjoy that process.” Anna’s constant search for new ideas and challenges keeps her ahead of her times. She’s a true trendsetter to whom stylists and editors look for direction. The boundless energy and creative ingenuity of her runway presentations always make her shows a high point of New York Fashion Week.
Growing up with his family in Orissa, on the East Coast of India, Bibhu Mohapatra’s appreciation for sumptuous Indian fabrics and vibrant colors began at an early age. This initial exposure to textiles and garment construction still inspires Bibhu’s designs and permeates throughout the collections of his namesake label.
Bibhu moved to America in 1996, and after graduating from Utah State University with a Masters degree in Economics, moved to New York City in 1999 and enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology. While working on his design degree, Bibhu honed his skills as an assistant designer at the iconic American fashion label, Halston.
Jason Wu for Hugo Boss
Asia Fashion Collection
Asia Fashion Collection (AFC),” is an incubation project, produced and supported by Vantan and PARCO, in cooperation with the supporting industry organizations based in Asia, looking to contribute to the further development of the fashion industry across Asia. The promising young designers from Asia, selected through recommendation made by Taiwan Textile Federation and Hong Kong Trade Development Council, will be given the opportunities to make the runway debut, together with talented design students from Vantan Design Institute, in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. The designers will participate in post-show incubation programs such as exhibitions and various promotional events held in Asia.
The 6 brand names participating in Asia Fashion Collection this year:
The concept behind Beyond Closet’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection is “New Orange Boy,” which is a Korean term that was used to describe the excessive consumption of wealthy offspring in Gangham (Seoul’s most lavish neighborhood) in the 1990’s. This generation was notorious for their debaucherous ways and exorbitant purchases of luxury goods and vehicles. Beyond Closet reinvents this notion, contrary to the old “Orange Boy,” “New Orange Boy” represents the new generation of youth independent of family riches who strive to live their own lives.
LEYII’s Fall/Winter 2015 concept is “Pur-Ensemble,” which combines the word ‘Pur’ meaning pure and ‘Ensemble’ meaning to be in harmony. LEYII’s pieces are an expression of her balance of construction, detail and fabric. Her Fall/Winter collection showcases LEYII’s contemporary and minimal sensibilities.
Resurrection’s “New Post Punk” Fall/Winter 2015 collection emulates the designers’ unconventional sensibility. Resurrection makes a bold statement with her exquisite tailoring and juxtaposition of materials such as leather, fur, high-tech fabric and gold and black color blocking.
Concept Korea is a collaborative project to promote Korean fashion designers and assist them in their attempts to break into the U.S. fashion market. Concept Korea is organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of The Republic of Korea and Korea Creative Contents Agency. Concept Korea bgan of 2010, and this F/W 2015 season marks the organization’s eleventh time showing at New York Fashion Week.. www.conceptkorea.org
About the designers:
Beyond Closet, designed by Taeyong Ko is a menswear brand representing classic items reinterpreted for men in their twenties and thirties. The collection is a mix of practical, sophisticated and distinguished pieces. www.beyondcloset.com.
Seunghee Lee is a Korean, London based designer. Seunghee moved to London at an early age and graduated from London College of Fashion with BA First Class Honor Degree in womenswear. Following her BA Graduate show, she completed her MA in womenswear from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design. After successful MA graduation, she took charge of several collections for Samsung Fashion Department then worked as the creative director at a bespoke tailoring house. She collaborated with photographer Giles Bensimon for Elle Korea Magazine April 2009. www.LEYII.kr
Resurrection by Juyoung Lee is inspired by functional fashion and the transformative power of clothing. The brand is edgy, sexy and uses lace, zippers and translucent fabrics juxtaposed against masculine shapes to create a wearable, yet clever line.The VIP followers of the brand include Lady Gaga, Marilyn Manson and the Black Eyed Peas.www.resurrectionbyjuyoung.com
Fashion designer Choonmoo Park was born in Kimje, a small town in the southern part of Korea, where her family owned a children’s apparel company. A happy fixture in her father’s factory and showroom, Park was fascinated by the transformative and reflective nature of clothing and hence, her love of fashion was born. After her family moved to Seoul, Park attended Hong-Ik University, where she majored in industrial design, followed by the Kookje Fashion School where she studied fashion design. Her industrial design roots are evident in her fashion designs and have defined her compelling aesthetic. Park has been at the forefront of Korean avant garde design since 1988, when she launched her label DEMOO. Subsequently, she launched her eponymous line, PARKCHOONMOO.
Fashion Shenzhen, a program that brings Shenzhen city’s fashion staples to the world. It has been three years that fashion Shenzhen presenting its show and presentation with Shenzhen Local designers on New York Fashion Week. Each year, Fashion Shenzhen invited professional buyers, medias, bloggers and fashion editors to watch the show. It already becomes a bridge for the talented Shenzhen fashion designers and top designer brands to penetrate into the international fashion market. It also provides a chance for people who want to know more about Shenzhen Fashion Industry and look for the opportunities in Shenzhen Fashion area. This year , Fashion Shenzhen will continue its journey in New York Fashion Week and present the world a visual feast combined with oriented elements and modern aesthetic.
Ground-zero is a creative fashion brand founded by brothers Eri and Philip Chu in 2008. The hong kong-based duo believes that a good design house should be built on a solid foundation, and “ground zero’ is the first step of their creative world. Ground Zero is a literal translation of the designers’ belief that everything has to start from zero, where possibilities of paths are unlimited and anything is possible.Zero could be everything. Eri studied graphic design in Hong Kong and, in his free time, explored his interest in fashion by applying his graphic ideas onto garments. Over time, he naturally developed his skills to become a fashion focused graphic designer. Philip studied fashion design in London, where he honed his creative aesthetic. What started as implementing ideas onto basic t-shirts eventually grew to the development and execution of more sophisticated concepts. Together, the brothers began creating limited edition art and garment pieces for the market, and immediately their synergy became unstoppable. Ground-zero officially launched its first seasonal collection in 2008 to a tremendously positive response, and the brand has continue to grow with each season. With 13 collections currently in its fashion archive, the main focuses are womenswear and menswear. Ground-zero’s signature is a combination of bold street style and more subdued ready to wear, accented by unique graphic prints. The brothers continue to push the boundaries by merging humour and creativity, bring in fashion design into a new horizon. Above all, Philip and Eri always stay “grounded” by reminding themselves that started from “zero.”
Ms. Natori has crossed continents, navigated various career paths, and surmounted countless obstacles before creating her eponymous global brand, the House of Natori. Under labels Josie Natori, Natori, Josie, and N Natori, the designer extends her vision through ready-to-wear, lingerie, home, bedding, fragrance, and accessories. Ms. Natori credits her entrepreneurial nature to the matriarchal society in the Philippines, where she was born and raised, and the support of her close-knit Filipino family. “Women are encouraged to be entrepreneurs,” she says. “My grandmother always said, ‘Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to depend on anyone.’
Designer Kathleen Hanhee Kye earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at her London’s Central Saint Martins and made her debut in the F/W2011 season at London Fashion Week with her label KYE. She was elected as one of the ones to watch menswear Designer for her S/S 2012 collection. She quickly became one of the fashion designers most admired by K-pop stars after making her Seoul Fashion Week debut during the S/S 2013 season.
Lie Sang Bong
Lie Sang Bong is one of Korea’s preeminent fashion designers, a master craftsman and artist who is internationally recognized for his architectural collections that celebrate and enhance the body. Since founding his eponymous brand, LIE SANGBONG, in 1985, Mr. Lie continues to blend traditional influences and innovative techniques, allowing his work to resonate with audiences around the world. LIE SANGBONG has continued to expand its international business and, after 12 years of showing in Paris, the collection celebrated its New York Fashion Week debut with the Fall-Winter 2014 collection. “My goal is always to move design forward in a way that pays respect to tradition while providing something that is relevant for the present.
Monique Lhuillier is internationally recognized as one of America’s foremost designers. Established in1996 by Monique Lhuillier and her husband, Tom Bugbee, the company is considered one of the leading fashion houses in design, quality and creativity. With a passion for creating collections that are both feminine and modern, Monique Lhuillier continues to design ready-to-wear, accessories and bridal collections that are luxurious, chic and true to her aesthetic. Monique’s signature design sensibility has led to the launch of licensed products including fur, fine jewelry and tabletop, transforming the company into a luxury lifestyle brand.
Many of the world’s most stylish women are devotees to one of the biggest names in fashion: Naeem Khan. Committed to adorning elegant women in clothes befitting their refinement, his glittering fan base of starlets and socialites includes Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Vanessa Hudgens, Lady Gaga, Lea Michele, Penelope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker, Emily Blunt, Kate Beckinsale, First Lady Michelle Obama and Queen Noor of Jordan, and his designs have graced the silver screen in fashion film classics like Sex & the City and Dreamgirls.
Time and time again, you’ll hear the phrase “urban nomad” being used to describe our brand. While aesthetically reminiscent of this title we like to think our designs harbor a deeper connection. Our brand is an expression of our desire for new experience, travel, balanced with our strong connection to nature. It is the way we pursue life. Discovering creativity and inspiration amidst the intense energy of modern cities and the beauty and simplicity of nature.
Prabal Gurung launched his eponymous collection in February 2009 with a philosophy encompassing modern luxury, indelible style and an astute sense of glamour. Gurung was born in Singapore and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal. After beginning his design career in New Delhi he moved to New York to finish his studies at Parsons The New School for Design. Upon graduating, Gurung spent two years with Cynthia Rowley’s design and production teams. Soon after, he was appointed design director at the iconic Bill Blass, a post he held for five years until launching his own collection, PRABAL GURUNG. #DESIGNDISRUPTED
Son Jung Wan
Born and raised in South Korea, Son Jung Wan, majored in Industrial Craft at Sookmyung Women’s University and, after graduating, attended design school at International Mode in Seoul. In 1989, Son opened a small shop across the street from Galleria Department Store to house and sell her collection of stylish wears. Seeing how successful her store was, Galleria offered her a shop in shop only a year later and from there the Son Jung Wan brand grew. In 1993 Son earned the “Golden Needle Award” from the Korea Fashion Editor Association and in 2005, was named “Designer of the Year” by Seoul Metropolitan.
Supima is America’s luxury cotton: founded in 1954, the Supima brand designates an elite variety of pima cotton grown only in California and the Southwestern U.S. and prized the world over by designers and retailers who value its luster, strength, and superior softness.Begun in 2008, the annual Supima Design Competition was created to give runway exposure to emerging talent and was modeled on the legendary 1954 Wool Secretariat competition that launched the careers of the then-teenaged Yves St. Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld.
“Every woman, regardless of size and shape, deserves to feel confident, comfortable and gorgeous.” It is this belief that drives Tadashi Shoji and his namesake brand. Employing expert techniques in draping, ruching and shutter pleats, each garment is masterfully tailored to flatter all figures. Tadashi also carefully chooses fabrics with stretch, such as luxe jersey, embroidered lace and featherweight tulle to render a custom-made feel. So, whether it’s a cocktail dress or floor-length gown, the wearer looks red-carpet polished, with all the effortlessness of slipping on her favorite T-shirt. From the fabric to the fit, a Tadashi dress is infused with glamour and ease.
Wang Tao is one of China’s most celebrated, talented and accomplished designers. To some Wang Tao is seen as an aesthetic feminist, she has pioneered a vast and exhilarating change in Women’s fashion firstly in China and now internationally with the launch of her namesake brand Taoray Wang. Over the decade Wang Tao grew from an aspiring designer to one of Asia’s most successful female entrepreneurs.
Vivienne Hu is a New York based designer with diverse life experience. Before her fashion endeavors she had a business background and has worked in the Investment Banking industry in New York. Her decision of the critical career shift stems from her zeal for fashion and her love of all things creative. Vivienne Hu established her brand and debuted her first Spring/Summer collection in 2012, after a fashion degree from Parsons the New School for Design and an accumulation of industry experience at Oscar de la Renta and Yigal Azrouel. She launched her first flagship store in Soho, New York in 2013. Since then she has steadily built up her customer base, and has been requested to serve industrial duties and dress celebrities’ red carpet events. Her designs have been featured in various fashion magazines like Elle, Bazaar, Art and Designs, and Elegant. In addition to her couture and ready-to-wear lines, Vivienne also designs customized gowns for her celebrity clientele and her New York based customers. Till now Vivienne Hu has had 11 seasons’ design collections and the collections exhibits an impressive blend of European classic elegance, New York urban glamour and Asian exoticism. Vivienne Hu has been hosting her brand’s New York Fashion Week runway shows since September 2014, and in July 2015 she has been selected as a Swarovski Collective Designers for the 2016 seasons NYFW shows.
Vivienne Tam is an international designer known for her culture-bridging, East-meets-West approach to design as well as pioneering global collaborations marrying fashion with technology. Vivienne Tam effortlessly blends her cultural roots with a modern design vocabulary recognized for its artistry. She is the author of the award winning book China Chic and pieces from her collections are housed in the permanent archives of the world’s most prestigious museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Zang Toi is a renowned Fashion Designer who has built a tradition of elegance for over 20 years. Coming from humble beginnings, Zang was born and raised in a small village, Kuala Krai in Kelantan, Malaysia. He was the youngest of seven children of a local grocer. Zang landed in New York City at the age of 20 where he studied at the distinguished Parsons School of Design. In August 1989, he opened his atelier and soon after, U.S Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour featured Zang in March 1990 issue and was one of the first Asian designers championed by the renowned editor.
Academy of Art University
Academy of Art University, the largest private university of art and design in the United States, is educating students for the art and design jobs of the 21st century. Established in 1929, the Academy is an output-based higher education model that provides an inclusive admissions policy to all students, but imposes a rigorous curriculum that requires the students to produce portfolio of work that demonstrates a mastery of their field in order to graduate.