Wang, Wu, Lam, Lim. We’ve been coveting their goods for quite some time now. And while their aesthetics are quite variable, they all have something in common: their Asian heritage. Today Wang and the gang get the Sunday Styles treatment, in a pretty fascinating piece about the ascent of Asian-American designers.
In a year when all three of the CFDA‘s Swarovski Awards went to Asian-Americans (Wang for accessories, Wu for womenswear and Richard Chai for menswear), a definite change can be seen in the American fashion landscape. Why now, you say? The Times makes a really interesting connection:
This has happened largely for the same reason that the New York fashion industry, through the ’80s, was populated most visibly by designers of Jewish heritage, like Calvin Klein, Ms. Karan, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs and Mr. Kors. Throughout the 20th century, generations of Jewish immigrants had created a thriving garment district in New York, first as laborers, then as factory owners, manufacturers, retailers and, eventually, as designers. Many of today’s Asian-American designers say they experienced a similar evolution from the factory to the catwalk, since some of their parents and grandparents were once involved in the production of clothes.
This new crop of designers who grew up in the garment industry went the fashion school route, enrolling at Parsons and FIT (where nearly a quarter of students are now either Asian or Asian-American). The numbers don’t stop there: at least 35 members of the CFDA are Asian-American, as compared with 10 in 1995. This shift is definitely exciting, as fresh talent has been flooding the field as of late. Additionally, the success of these designers is helping to revitalize the fashion industry in Asia.