International Women’s Day 2021: 7 Emerging Female Asian Fashion Designers You Should Know
In celebration of International Women's Day on March 8, we're highlighting the up-and-coming female Asian designers making their mark in the fashion world
In celebration of International Women's Day, we want to highlight women—from Hong Kong's leading female poets, movies featuring women to inspiring quotes by female Tatler friends. And at the forefront of those making waves for women, particularly Asian women, are our very own female Asian designers.
While pioneers like Simone Rocha, Chitose Abe, Rei Kawakubo and many others have already paved the way in the fashion industry, these emerging names are a class of their own, whether it's because of their whimsical designs, innovative and sustainable approach or their romantic dresses. Get to know these emerging female Asian designers already on their way to cementing their place in the world of fashion.
See also: 7 Female Poets From Hong Kong To Know
Supriya Lele's big break may have been being one of the eight finalists of the prestigious LVMH Prize in 2020 but before that, she has already been making waves in the fashion industry. Her MA collection caught the eye of Fashion East director, Lulu Kennedy in 2017 and eventually being one of the recipients. In 2018, Lele was one of the awareness of the British Council's NewGen sponsorship.
Prior to her debut at London Fashion Week as part of the Fashion East showcase, the British-Indian designer launched her eponymous fashion brand in 2016. Lele's designs showcase not only her Indian roots but also pay respect for the craft and sustainability—something that's always been part of India's heritage. Her sheer, coloured-blocked layers is a shadow of a modern sari, echoing a thread of timelessness.
Joining Lele as one of the finalists at the LVMH Prize in 2020 is Nigerian-Indian designer, Priya Ahluwalia. The London-based menswear designer was recently awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design for making a positive impact through sustainable practices and community work through her designs. Prior to that, she took part in GucciFest, collaborated with Adidas and was an awardee of the British Fashion Awards.
Following pilgrimage trips to her ancestral homes—Nigeria and India—Ahluwalia launched her eponymous brand in 2018. She applies traditional textile techniques to vintage and deadstock fabrics for her streetwear collection, which gives them new life all while staying sustainable and paying homage to her Nigerian and Indian heritage.
Caroline Hu's colourful and dramatic gowns are turning heads. The China-born, New York-based designer rocked the fashion world with her romantic dresses in sophisticated fabrics—these earned her a Business of Fashion China Prize and an LVMH Prize nomination in just under two years. Launching her eponymous label in 2018, the rising fashion designer was also recently selected as one of the Ten Asian Designers to Watch by Fashion Asia Hong Kong.
Coming from a family that's always been passionate about the arts, Hu started oil painting and art from an early age, already making way for her future creative career as a fashion designer. Talking to Tatler about her goals, Hu hopes to launch ready-to-wear garments that embody the Caroline Hu style.
Anyone who watches a K-pop music video or performance is sure to be impressed with all the fashionable outfits sported by idols. South Korean designer Minju Kim has long been dressing these stars which include the lines of BTS and Red Velvet. But beyond just a designer for the stars, Kim is also the winner of Netflix's fashion design competition, Next in Fashion, which catapulted her to global recognition and a capsule launch on Net-a-Porter.
Her soft-spoken nature shouldn't fool you as she's well on her way to becoming the next fashion juggernaut. Her unique signature style that's a mix of youthful fun and haute couture as well as her playful take on bold silhouettes with a feminine touch is fast cementing her as a designer to watch.
Japanese native, Mame Kurogouchi seems to be part fashion designer, part anthropologist—all thanks to her deep dive into her cultural history where she searches for beauty in daily life for each of her designs. Her spring collection, Forms, which she launched two years after her Tokyo runway debut is an exploration of the concept of "wrapping", liken to "tsutsumu" or the Japanese art of packaging.
The Nagano-born designer makes use of many layers and manufactures her designs in Japan using traditional techniques which she learned during her days under Issey Miyake. She launched her design office in 2010, won the Mainichi Fashion Grand Prize Shiseido Sponsorship Award for Best New Designer in 2014 and took home the Fashion Prize of Tokyo in 2017. A Mame Kurogouchi piece is all of your senses coming together, which is particularly evident in her Spring 2021 ready-to-wear collection.
Admired for her otherworldly designs and unique fabrications, Susan Fang recently won Lane Crawford Creative Call Out. The Chinese designer and Central Saint Martins graduate presented her collection in Milan in 2020 for the first time since launching her brand five years prior. Known for pioneering the "air weave" technique—letting several layers of delicate material to be stitched together—Fang has also been applauded for her environmentally conscious approach to fashion.
Handcrafting each piece with her mother and using environmental-friendly materials to dictate the end of her garment to reduce waste, Fang is a champion of innovation as well as sustainability. The Gen.T 2019 honouree uses her whimsical world view and interest in mathematical geometry to transform unorthodox designs.
Snow Xue Gao
In just two years since launching her label in 2017, Snow Xue Gao has already been included in the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 List for her unique take on deconstructed tailoring. The China-born designer has also been shortlisted for the LVMH Prize in 2018. Now based in New York, she was under the wing of Jason Wu, where she honed her skills and especially learned to cut the elegant shapes that are seen throughout her designs.
Her asymmetric draping and the tailored line is a departure from conventional definitions of feminine and masculine. Her "duality" approach also sees the collision of cultural and epochal references. For her designs which are heavily influenced by art movements, Snow Xue Gao has bagged a number of other prizes including the Swarovski & Vogue Talents New Generation Award, Vflies Runway and Camera Buyer Italia Award.