In the age of social media, consumerism (or putting your money where your mouth is) is one of the best approaches to supporting the diverse people that are both in your network and beyond it. May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and one crucial way to celebrate how these communities have enriched the United States culture is by supporting the Asian-American designers and other Asian fashion industry players who are doing something exciting. Of course, there are well-known designers who have made long-lasting marks in this space — Phillip Lim, Joseph Altuzarra, and Vera Wang to name a few. But today, consider shopping for your next on-trend jewelry piece or summer dress from the up-and-coming names, below, who are making a splash.
New York and Los Angeles have long been hubs for buzz-worthy talent and many of the designers you'll see below hail from these metropolitans. There's a jewelry designer working with upcycled materials to create cool candy-like earrings with major editorial appeal, a design duo who’s keeping fabric out of landfills and producing premium knitwear in its place, and you'll even encounter an AAPI handbag designer who's teamed up with artisans in Indonesia to create adorable mini purses that you'll want to carry all summer long. Bottom line: these 31 Asian designers ahead should most certainly be on your radar. Continue on to learn more and shop to support the brands.
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Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Yuhan Wang
Yuhan Wang, a Central Saint Martin’s graduate and former Marni womenswear designer, founded her eponymous brand in 2018. The label offers romantic pieces that will remind you of the Victorian era. Wang designs her garments to be primarily in pastel colors and uses silky floral fabrics while playing with proportions and layering to create her signature style. The emerging label was shortlisted for the 2020 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: seree
Chloe Zhao and Eva Zhang are part of a fresh generation of entrepreneurs who are bringing jade — typically seen as an East Asian gemstone — into western culture. The two, who were born in China but moved to NYC a few years ago, launched seree, which comes from the word serendipity, as a way to show the timelessness of jade and the modern ways you can incorporate it into your everyday look. “Unlike golds and silvers, jade stones vary in textures and colors, so each raw piece is unique by itself,” said Zhang in a statement. Currently, the label offers earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets made from stones like jade, agate, or quartzite. Seree is based in NYC and ethically sources in Asian regions like Myanmar and Xinjiang.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: BONBONWHIMS
This nostalgic accessory brand was founded by Clare Ngai, who emigrated from China when she was 18 years old to study journalism in the states. She initially launched BONBONWHIMS as a passion project during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it soon grew into something bigger as fashion girls everywhere loved the accessories. (Ariana Grande was just spotted wearing one of the rings.) Aside from the fun designs, the custom Y2K-inspired jewelry has a philanthropic mission, too — the brand often donates a portion of the proceeds to a charitable cause. For its latest collection dubbed Ling Bling Ring, for example, the label pledged to donate 50 percent of its sales profits to organizations like AAPI Women Lead, Stop AAPI Hate, and the Asian-American Legal Defense Fund, as well as to the families that lost their loved ones in the Atlanta shooting earlier this year.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: DANZ
Founded in 2020 in New York City by Singapore-raised designer Danica Zheng, Danz is a young label built with old world attention to luxury details. The pieces from the most recent collection feature tailoring co-ords and bodycon, stretch-fabric tops with fun cutout details all over.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Ambush
Founded by Tokyo style icons and tastemakers Verbal and Yoon Ahn — a hip-hop artist and graphic designer, respectively — Ambush started off as an experimental line of jewelry. Today, the brand has become known for its unisex aesthetic, offering everything from jackets and coats to denim and knitwear in its ready-to-wear collections. In addition to its unisex appeal, Ambush is known for its innovative, avant-garde designs that capture a very distinct Tokyo aesthetic. The brand is now available to shop worldwide, partnering with international retailers like Farfetch and SSENSE to sell its products.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: abacaxi
Inspired by travel, vibrant hues, and the infinite beauty of nature, Indian-American textile designer and artist Sheena Sood established this mindful clothing label. After working as a designer for brands such as Tracy Reese, Cole Haan, and Anthropologie for a decade, Sood started abacaxi with a capsule of silk garments featuring vintage embroideries collected in Rajasthan, India. Today, the brand named after the Portuguese word for pineapple produces garments that have a tropical spirit to them yet still are suitable for a fast-paced city lifestyle.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: ASHLYN
Led by Creative Director Ashlynn Park, womenswear label ASHLYN has a strong aesthetic reflective of the designer’s decades of experience in Japan and New York. As a student, Park trained at the finest institutes in her native home Seoul, South Korea before moving to Tokyo to continue her studies. She eventually won Japan’s prestigious SO-EN Award in 2008, which previously honored big players in Japanese fashion like Yohji Yamamoto and Kenzo Takada. This recognition led to her landing a role as fashion designer and pattern maker at Yohji Yamamoto. Now with ASHLYN, Park has declared her commitment to zero-waste luxury and strives to innovate on timeless and bold womenswear every season.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: behno
Ever since Shivam Punjya founded this basics and leather accessories label, behno has been championing ethical manufacturing. That includes providing a healthy and safe working environment to its workers. The brand is known for its other positive initiatives, too, including the Garment Worker Project, which sheds light on the less visible facets of fashion by crediting those who partake in the creation of each design, and partnerships with the National Down Syndrome Society.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: I’MMANY
Founded by Tina Xu, a former strategy consultant and tech veteran, this United Kingdom-based label bears a name that stands for "I am many” — an empowering statement meant to highlight the many roles of women. To create its jewelry collections, I'MMANY works with a wide range of organic materials, including real flowers (like dehydrated roses, daisies, and hydrangeas), freshwater pearls, and semi-precious gemstones.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Mandkhai
Mongolian designer Mandkhai Jargalsaikhan — one of the first people to ever set up a business in post-communist Mongolia — created this knitwear brand as a way to make cashmere sustainable. The label does this by educating consumers on making a more informed choice about the quality of cashmere they buy, as well as keeping complete control of the supply chain to create their goat-to-garment products.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Nana Jacqueline
Created by Nana and Jacqueline, two Chinese-American women living and working in Los Angeles, this brand designs soft, playful ready-to-wear items and accessories. The label is a hit with celebrities like Sofia Richie, Tiffany Young, Saweetie, and Lisa from Blackpink.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Kara
Designer Sarah Law draws inspiration for her label from her childhood in Hong Kong and the experience of being raised by a white mother and a Chinese father. With all of her items, Law focuses on storytelling through individual human experiences and highlights multifaceted characteristics within each person and community. The brand offers unique, playful bags and accessories like chain wallets, bucket hats, and crystal-bedazzled water bottle bags.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: TAI Jewelry
Thai-American jeweler Tai Rittichai first started her line of handmade bracelets by selling them at the Santa Monica flea market. The venture eventually blossomed into a full-time business in 2002 — and today, TAI Jewelry is an extensive collection of minimalist accessories that encompasses earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and 14k gold pieces. You can now get Rittichai’s jewelry at her SoHo storefront, as well as other retailers like Neiman Marcus, Anthropologie, Free People, and Revolve.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Caraa
Caraa is a luxury accessory company that produces beautiful yet functional sports bags. The label was launched by CFDA award-winning designer Carmen Chen Wu and Aaron Luo in 2015. Both born in China but raised in Spain, the duo came to New York City and soon discovered they could not find that perfect, utilitarian bag that would help them navigate the fast-paced city lifestyle, so they joined forces to create one. To honor AAPI Heritage Month, the brand has launched its One Love Tee and pledged to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to Stop AAPI Hate, a center focused on ending anti-Asian and all forms of structural racism in response to the alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: JANTHEE Berlin
Founded by Linda Hausser, a Thai-German swimwear designer who was born and raised in Thailand and now lives in Berlin, this brand offers classy, on-trend swimwear styles. JANTHEE strives to keep the quality of its pieces luxe and the prices fair — you won’t find anything priced above $210 on the brand’s website. All of JANTHEE’s pieces are designed for the modern woman who travels around the world and is not afraid to stand out from the crowd. Just take a look at the Lizza bikini top, below, and you’ll see this vibe rings true.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Sunnies Studios
This Filipina-owned one-stop-shop for sunglasses and prescription eyewear spot was founded in 2013 by fashion veterans Bea Soriano-Dee, Martine Ho, and Georgina Wilson. Based in Manila (the capital of the Philippines), Sunnies Studios offers countless styles and silhouettes ranging from classic rectangular frames to sassy cat-eye styles. All products ship globally and come at very affordable price points: $20 for sunglasses and $50 for prescription eyewear.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: HEYMAEVE
Alicia Sandve started HEYMAEVE as an affordable jewelry brand that’s dedicated to empowering women through community and give back initiatives. The brand particularly supports women-focused charities like nonprofit organizations that help sexual assault survivors. Sandve, who is a mom of two young girls and a survivor of sexual assault herself, originally moved to NYC from Singapore to pursue fashion. The brand is currently running a campaign where $10 from each sale of the Excuse You Necklace ($58), My Property Bracelet ($48), Money Pin Earrings ($42), and Fifth Avenue Earrings ($49) will be donated to AAPI anti-hate initiatives.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: JW Pei
Founded by husband-and-wife duo Yang Pei & Stephanie Li, who are currently based between Hong Kong and Los Angeles, this handbag brand has the minimalist aesthetic of old Celine and Bottega Veneta, which fans will love. Additionally, all of JW Pei’s products are vegan and crafted from high-quality canvas and certified fabrics, which are made from recycled plastic bottles. You can catch the accessories on the arms of models like Irina Shayk.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Peter Do
Peter Do is a Brooklyn-based designer with a Vietnamese background, who is known for his modernist, clean tailored pieces. His designs are beloved by the likes of Zendaya and Karlie Kloss. While working under Phoebe Philo at Celine, Do honed in on his design skills and wanted to create his own label with a specific vision in mind. He particularly wanted to make garments for the women who were not stuffy. The designer won the inaugural LVMH Graduates Prize in 2014, subsequently making the coveted shortlist of LVMH Prize finalists in 2020.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: SVNR
Chinese-American designer Christina Tung founded SVNR in Brooklyn with a commitment to sustainable production practices and conscious consumption. Her pieces, which now include a range of earrings, barrettes, and necklaces, are designed from repurposed materials. They all have an aesthetic that nods to arts and crafts. If you need a new piece of statement jewelry, this brand should be on your radar.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: YanYan
YanYan founders Phyllis Chan and Suzzie Chung launched their direct-to-consumer knitwear brand that uses leftover factory yarns with the goal of keeping them out of landfills. The label is a candy-colored assortment of fun, wearable pieces like cardigans, matching sets, and even a pair of chartreuse biker shorts.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Rastah
Founded in 2018 by Pakistani cousins, Zain, Adnan, and Ismail Ahmad, Rastah is an artisanal label that aims to reinterpret South Asian heritage and artisanship through fashion. In designing and creating its genderless garments, the South Asian designer team wants to present the region’s craftsmen as not merely skilled makers but visionary creators for the next generation of streetwear.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Claudia Li
This New York-based designer is a mainstay in the contemporary fashion scene thanks to her unexpected silhouettes and striking colors, prints, and textures. Li is a go-to for artful statement pieces that can seamlessly match your wardrobe staples.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Sandy Liang
Sandy Liang is one of those downtown New York designers who helped launch the return of cult styles like the fuzzy fleece pullover. She somehow manages to make the anti-trendy pieces feel, well, trendy again. The designer encourages you to cultivate your personal style no matter how weird or wacky that might look. She launched the brand in 2014 and since then has garnered a huge following in the fashion world with stockists like SSENSE, Shopbop, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Boma Jewelry
Established in 1981 in Seattle, Washington by Boon and Chieko Chaya, Boma Jewelry is a social purpose company focused on using fashion as a force for good. Today, the company is run by Suzanne Vetillart, who inherited the business from her parents. To coincide with AAPI Heritage Month, Boma Jewelry released a new collection of sustainable, ethically-made jewelry dubbed the Treasured Collection, designed to celebrate the AAPI community and give back to organizations that are working to create lasting change. During the month of May, 100 percent of profits from the new range will be donated to the AAPI Community Fund, which aims to address urgent issues in the AAPI community, as well as broader, systemic problems.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: KkCo
This on-the-rise label is designed by Kara Jubin and based in Los Angeles. The collection incorporates unexpected pops of color in interesting silhouettes and textures like a sheer cotton candy pink floor-length dress and a statement collar shirt. It's a can't-miss brand if you're looking for something unique and fresh.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Pattaraphan
Pattaraphan translates to beautiful skin in Thai, which makes sense why designer Pattaraphan (Nok) Salirathavibhaga creates her assortment of minimalist essentials that enhance the every day outfit. She works with local independent businesses and produces in limited quantities to avoid waste. The designer just released her annual Co Collection, which was inspired by Salirathavibhaga’s upbringing and her seeing older generations of Thai women wearing pearl necklaces to formal events and funerals.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Alfeya Valrina
After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, Alfeya Valrina founded her namesake label in Jakarta. Her bags are all handmade by artisans and the materials are ethically sourced and locally found. The top-handle bags come in a splashy assortment of prints and textures including cheetah, lime green, corduroy, and patent leather.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Mijeong Park
Originally from Korea, designer Mijeong Park launched her Los Angeles-based label in 2015. She's since become know for pairing modern silhouettes with neutral tones. It's a minimalist's dream, where every piece feels elevated and versatile.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Social-Work
Founded by Italian-born, Shanghai-raised designer and Parsons grad Chenghui Zhang, Social-Work focuses on creating functional, versatile wardrobe pieces suitable for today’s lifestyle. Drawing inspiration from all dimensions of life, art, and contemporary culture, the designer continues to push the boundaries of fashion and its implications with their androgynous designs while simultaneously trying to bridge the cultural connection between customers and makers.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: Senreve
Coral Chung and Wendy Wen’s handbags are handcrafted in Florence, Italy and have a loyal following from the likes of Angelina Jolie, Gabrielle Union, Emma Roberts, Jessica Alba, and many other A-listers. The direct-to-consumer model allows them to work with luxe materials without overly up-charging shoppers. The leather goods are all under $1,000.
Asian Fashion Designers To Know: AK-OK
Indian fashion designer Anamika Khanna started her label when her twin sons, Viraj and Vishesh, moved to the United States to study at the University of Southern California. She faced health challenges and had to communicate with her boys across the globe — an experience that inspired the brand name. “During the height of the 1960s USA Space Program, NASA invented the term A-OK, apparently because the sharp sound of an A could cut through static and space easier,” Khanna said in a statement. “Harnessing the transmission power of the term A-OK and adding a personal twist of my initials, A-OK became AK-OK — a code that would travel back and forth between [my sons and I] over 13,000 km and four years. The label specializes in ultra-billowy ready-to-wear garments and statement jewelry pieces manufactured from matte gold.
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