The upsurge of Asian achievers in fashion arena is one of implausible diverse assortment, not just in haute couture, but to middle class as well. In fact, these creative minds have been on fashion forefront for years now. Some of the most creative designers in the fashion industry have been of Asian lineage. Actually, the impact of Asian legacy and Asian designers in the fashion world goes beyond the ‘’back label’’ of your fav dress. If we dig deep; some of the utmost developments, like silk discovery, have come from Asia. Undoubtedly, there are talented people (like Black designers) leading the revolution; but the harsh reality is that we have somewhat failed to recognize the vast array of influence, Asian culture has offered since ages. We all usually get inspired by distinct design flairs of European and American market and the contribution of the Asian continent to the design world globally; has been overlooked.
Though in recent times, significant changes are taking place. Due to the vast changes in consumer demands; Asian fashion market is emerging enormously. With major input of Asian designers; Asian market has once again found its place in the main stream fashion industry; globally. Thus, here we have assembled six of our game - changing Asian designers to keep you ahead of all fashion trends.
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Born in Singapore and raised in Kathmandu; The Nepalese-American fashion designer Prabal Gurung started his career in New Delhi, before shifting to New York to complete his design studies at Parsons. Since launching his line at New York Fashion Week in 2009, Gurung's designs are now sold in over 20 countries globally and have been worn by celebs like Anne Hathaway and Sarah Jessica Parker. In 2010 he won Ecco Domani Fashion Fund Award and selected as runner up for the 2010 CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund. Gurung was named chief designer for Onward Kashiyama's ICB brand in 2011. He teamed up with Target as the retailer’s 2013 designer collaborator and has also been highlighted in fashion’s top publications. Gurung is one of those designers who are not only proud of their cultural roots but also working to encourage and elevate people through his designs. Apart from creating attractive and thought-provoking designs, he has also started a foundation to aid underprivileged children in Nepal.
Laura Kim & Fernando Garcia
Korean designer Laura Kim was someone everyone kept their eyes on; since early days in her career. After graduating with a BFA from Pratt in 2004 she won scholarships from the CDFA, and joined celebrated couturier Oscar de la Renta just after completing her internship. She co-founded her label Monse, in 2016 with partner and fellow Fernando Garcia. The label designs for some of the biggest names like Amal Clooney and Margot Robbie to name a few. Today, the power couple serves as co-creative directors of Oscar de la Renta, while expanding Monse. In 2016, the pair got nominated for a CFDA Swarovski award in the womenswear category. With exclusive elements like torrent hems and slashed silhouettes; MONSE is a label synonymous with contemporary women who seek to stand out from the troop while maintaining the graceful demeanor.
Established in 2013; Han Chong’s luxury brand ‘Self Portrait’ has already acquired a cult status for its signature dresses. The designs being worn by the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Kristen Stewart, Rachel McAdams and Beyoncé. The Malaysian-born designer is a graduate of Central Saint Martins and works on the principal of amalgamating artistic work with skillful understanding of materials. Various factors such as open pricing strategy and the versatile pieces designed according to every woman’s body and style has given the brand a huge commercial success in the contemporary fashion market. In 2016, the luxury label - ‘Self-Portrait’ was nominated by the British Fashion Council for the British Emerging Talent award. Chong also introduced the five-year scholarship fund for Central Saint Martins MA Fashion students, In November 2018, with each year's beneficiary gaining admission to mentorship programme from Self-Portrait and its main investors.
Chinese fashion designer Uma Wang has showcased catwalk collections at London, Paris and Milan fashion weeks and has gathered critical acclamation. A fashion design graduate from Central Saint Martins and China Textile University, she has established herself in the mainstream fashion industry with her ground-breaking draping techniques and scrupulous detailing. Wang had worked for numerous Chinese brands before launching her label in 2005; which established her as a skilled designer in the local Chinese market and entrenched her as a regular at the Shanghai Fashion Week. In 2012, She became the first Chinese designer to participate in the CFDA/China Exchange Programme, gaining substantial experience in the American market as well. With around 100 retail outlets worldwide and various recognition and awards to her credit such as Beijing CCDC Best Designer 2010, 2011 Audi Progressive Designer Award, Shanghai Fashion Week award for the Finest Craft and Best Creativity and up - coming designer by Vogue Italia; Wang has already set the bar really high for all Asian designers.
Japanese designer Chitose Abe is the founder of Sacai, the high – fashion brand she started in 1999. The brand is well-known for its extraordinary methodological skills of creating some of the finest clothing items in the contemporary fashion market. The renowned brand is Japan’s most celebrated design label and counts on Suzy Menkes, Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour as admirers. Today, ‘Sacai’ has over 90 retailers all over the world. Abe has also extended into other arenas with her Sacai Luck and Sacai Men’s collections. Abe is married to Junichi Abe, the founder and designer of cult line - Kolor.
The Indian-born designer is known for his cutting- edge designs of fashionable gowns and marvelously lavish furs. Bibhu Mohapatra is not only one of India’s most beloved designers but respected abroad as well. He also sat on the CDFA board and even Michelle Obama has worn his designs. Growing up with his family in Odisha, India, Bibhu’s love for extravagant Indian fabrics and vivacious hues began at an early age. In 1996, he moved to America to complete his graduation and then moved to New York City in 1999, to join Fashion Institute of Technology where he won the prestigious Critic’s Award for Best Evening Wear Designer. This acknowledgement really helped launch his career. While finishing his degree, he enhanced and sharpened his skills as an assistant designer at the Halston – the quintessential fashion label! He designs custom couture cocktail dresses, furs and evening gowns, for clients in India, New York and Europe.
Though these groundbreaking Asian designers establish only a small part of the pool but it wouldn’t be wrong to say that with their innovative designs and versatile cultural backgrounds; they are creating a whole new sartorial ground; merging elements of their legacy with an unremarkable contemporary dynamism. Today, when fashion market is longing for somewhat diverse and exclusive, these Asian designers have a lot to offer to the commonalities.
© 2021 Prachi Srivastava