The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has a long-standing history of craftsmanship and design that continues to enrich the fashion industry. And yet, despite their immense contributions, AAPI fashion designers are still vastly underrepresented in the industry. This lack of representation perpetuates inequality and ultimately hinders the fashion industry's potential for growth and innovation.
Despite the rigged playing field, Asian American designers continue to break boundaries and push the fashion industry towards a reformed, more inclusive future. In honour of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we're celebrating emerging and established AAPI talent in the fashion design space.
Known for: minimalist style, maximum cool
One of the most talked-about names in fashion at the moment, Peter Do launched his namesake brand in 2018 and was recently appointed as the official creative director of Helmut Lang.
Peter Do worked in Celine and Derek Lam's RTW ateliers before launching his own brand, which gifted him his appreciation of womenswear and allowed him to refine his effortlessly elegant aesthetic.
Known for: feminine designs and traditional craftsmanship
Ashlynn Park started her fashion design journey in Seoul before moving to Tokyo and winning the prestigious SO-EN Award in 2008. To no one's surprise, she was invited to work on Alexander Wang's runway line upon moving to New York in 2011.
All of which culminated in the opening of her own brand, Ashlyn, in 2021. A responsible designer, Ashlynn ensures that her brand takes extra steps to produce minimal waste and adopt a more eco-friendly process.
Known for: romantic structures and painted prints
Ling Arnold took some twists and turns before finding her footing in the industry. A former investment banking associate with no traditional design education, Arnold has still made an impact on the global fashion stage with her brand Palmier. Ling Arnold's designs are vibrant and imaginative, often embelished with prints of her own paintings.
Known for: upcycling and bold colours
Olivia Cheng is a pioneer of the Gen Z fashion designers making waves in the industry. This 23-year-old designer made quite an entrance when she exhibited as part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's In America: A Lexicon Fashion exhibition.
A true representation oif her generation's innovative nature, Olivia works with off-the-wall materials —slices of dragonfruit, for example.
Known for: form-fitting silhouettes and funky cut-outs
When Rui Zhou introduced her first collection in 2019, she made sure to stand out from the crowd. Her designs are non-conformative and provocative whilst demontsrating a mastery of fabric manipulation. No wonder her work quickly caught the eye of A-listers such as Dua Lipa and Solange.