AAPI and Asian-Owned Brands to Shop Now and Always

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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the U.S., which recognizes the contributions people of Asian, South Asian and Pacific Islander descent have made in American culture. During a period in which Asian Americans have faced a rise in discrimination and hate crimes, it feels especially important to highlight and celebrate the positive impact that so many diverse global cultures have made on creative industries—not just here, but all around the world. The fashion industry in particular has been enriched by countless Asian designers, from innovators like Issey Miyake and Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo, to up-and-comers like Commission and Tank Air, all of whom incorporate elements of their heritage into their designs in different ways. Here, a primer on some of our favorite Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander-owned brands from around the world to know and shop—now, and always.

Commission

This New York-based brand was established in 2018 by Huy Luong, Dylan Cao, and Jin Kay, all of whom draw inspiration from the ways their Asian mothers dressed in the late 80s and early 90s.

Minju Kim

Minju Kim, a Korean designer and winner of Netflix’s first season of Next in Fashion, designs easy, mood-lifting womenswear that’s perfect for parties.

Issey Miyake

Issey Miyake’s signature pleating technique has inspired countless other designers since its inception in the early 1990s. Miyake passed away in 2022, but the brand is still going strong (and vintage Pleats Please pieces are treasured by collectors).

Sandy Liang

New York City-based Sandy Liang draws inspiration from her Chinese roots for her sporty-femme designs. Her ballerina-inspired Mary Janes have become a fashion girl favorite.

Hyein Seo

Drawing on his design background, the Antwerp-based Korean designer Hyein Seo puts a Y2K spin on technical fabrics for just the right amount of sporty spice.

Yuhan Wang

Yuhan Wang’s ethereal, artistic pieces are inspired by traditional Chinese ideas of femininity. But they’re never too sweet—even her floral cocktail dresses feel fabulously subversive and modern.

J.Kim

Zhenya Kim’s collections for her brand, J.Kim, are rooted in traditional Korean garments—which she presents with a modern twist.

KkCo

KkCo makes sporty, playful designs in limited batches in Los Angeles (think utility vests with ruffled accents, popcorn bike shorts, and terry cloth wrap skirts).

Rui

Known for her cut-out knitwear, designer Rui Zhou makes wearable pieces that balance fragility and strength.

Notte

Chinese-American designer Jessica Tse makes playful, delicate jewelry inspired by a life spent between New York City and Florence, Italy.

Anna Kikue

After showing her first collection as part of Chromat’s SS19 Saturation Show, Anna Kikue continues to create classic pieces with the right amount of edge including custom wedding rings and bands.

Bad Binch Tongtong

New York-based Chinese fashion designer Terrence Zhou creates voluminous, body-hugging silhouettes that are truly one of a kind.

Labucq

Half-Chinese designer Lauren Bucquet started her buzzy accessories line in 2018, after 10 years as the lead shoe designer for Rag & Bone.

Misho

Designer Suhani Parekh’s pieces are inspired by her interactions with contemporary art and the various architectural styles of the many cities she’s traveled to.

Simone Rocha

Simone Rocha continues to pave the way for a “youthful, rebellious aesthetic” with ladylike embellishments that are always a welcome touch.

Comme des Garçons and Junya Watanabe

The pioneering Japanese labels headed by Rei Kawakubo remain an innovative, radical force in the fashion world.

Kijun

Inspired by the street style of ’80s and ’90s Seoul, Hyunwoo Kim and Myungjun Shin design everyday pieces with a twist.

SVNR

Chinese-American designer Christina Tung’s jewelry and accessory brand SVNR mixes natural materials with found objects to create pieces inspired by the color palette of Kyoto and traditional Indonesian porcelain.

Rhee Studio

Korean-Kiwi designer Cherry Kim founded Rhee Studio in 2020, a label titled after her mother’s maiden name. Kim’s notable illustrations and raw talent have caught the eyes of many including StockX, A24, and le PÈRE. Her most recent drop featured a luxe everyday bag in three colorways.

Tank Air

Inspired by the strong women in her family, Claire Robertson-Macleod’s brand Tank Air is an ode to her Thai and English heritage. The brand offers simple sustainable basics that have been worn by the likes of Bella Hadid and the Kardashians.

Tae Park

Founded by Brooklyn-based designer Taehee Park, Tae Park’s designs are reminiscent of romantic vintage silhouettes combined with Park’s Southeast Asian roots.

Ratio Et Motus

Latin for “Sense and Emotion,” Ratio Et Motus was founded by Chinese-Americans Angela Wang and Shenghao Li. Each collection explores the balance between functionality and luxury through an array of striking leather handbags.

Anita Ko

Anita Ko is renowned for her timeless pieces that remain versatile for any occasion. Ko was the 2023 recipient of the Gem Awards Jewelry Designer of the Year award.

Ashlyn

Drawing on her experience at Yohji Yamamoto and Calvin Klein, Japanese-American designer Ashlynn Park’s designs feature strong tailoring and silhouettes as well as a firm zero-waste ethos.

LỰU ĐẠN

Lu’u Dan, Vietnamese for “dangerous man,” is a menswear label started by Kwaidan Editions designer Hung La. The brand’s designs are sleek and minimalist, with subtle nods to Japanese streetwear.

Allina Liu

After putting in time at The Row, Rebecca Taylor, and J.Crew, Allina Liu set off on her own to create chic, girly clothing that allow you to embrace your inner child.

Chet Lo

An esteemed graduate of Central Saint Martins, Chet Lo is an Asian American designer who explores futuristic textures in knitwear.

Dauphinette

New York based designer Olivia Cheng launched her label Dauphinette in 2018, and is best known for her jewelry and chainmaille pieces that incorporate actual fruits and flowers. While the brand now produces a select amount of ready-to-wear, Dauphinette continues to push the boundaries on upcycling and has since been recognized by the Met Museum’s Costume Institution for her innovation.

Grace Gui

Chinese American knitwear designer Grace Gui goes the extra mile when producing her handmade pieces. Gui sources her materials from independent farmers, and she even raises her own silk worms in Brooklyn with the intention of creating pieces that speak to her heritage.

Grace Ling

Born in Singapore and based in New York, Grace Ling founded her eponymous label with 3D-printing and CGI technology at its core. In 2022, the brand was selected for Net-a-Porter’s Vanguard Program and was featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition In America: A Lexicon in Fashion.

Kozaburo

Tokyo native Kozaburo Akasaka’s namesake menswear label draws inspiration from ’90s street style. In 2017, Kozaburo was the recipient of the LVMH Special Prize, and he was a CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund finalist in 2023.

Meuchner

Founded in 2022, Erin Meuchner’s chic fine jewelry label is designed for everyday wear. All pieces are made to order in New York City—you might recognize some from the film Past Lives, in which Greta Lee’s character wore a few.

Ouer

Founded by the Chinese Canadian duo Jeremy Ho and Peter Hu, Ouer is a menswear label whose designs reflect the life experiences of both designers. Each piece is created with the intent to make the wearer feel a special sense of comfort and fabulousness.

This article was originally published on May 12, 2021

This post was originally published on W Magazine

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