Monday, 4 March 2013

5 emerging Asian designers to look out for

For decades, Europe and America have been the centre of the fashion world. While that’s largely true – the four most important fashion weeks do happen in the West after all – but that doesn’t mean that it’s only Western designers who are shaping the future of fashion.

Take a look at the rise of the Asian designer in the states, and the increasing number of designers from that side of the world muscling their way into London and Paris.
Even back in the day the likes of John Rocha (Hong Kong) and Jimmy Choo (Malaysia) were making sure the world was aware of Asia as a creative hub as well as a manufacturing base.
Over the past few years you have the more established lines of Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, Vera Wang, Richard Chai or Alexander Wang all flaunting their Asian heritage all across the major fashion weeks.
Now the question has to be, where is the next generation of Asian designers coming from? Who is going to be the next big thing to hit the catwalks of London, Paris, New York and Milan?
Read on to have a look at my pick of five Asian designers to look out for and remember you saw it here first!
Yeashin Kim (S. Korea), Haizhen Wang (China) and Lionel Low (Singapore) are some
of the rising Asian designers to look out for!


Indonesia is one of the biggest and fastest-rising Asian capitals at the moment and it is no surprise that one of its designers has made it to my list. In fact, I’ve decided that Toton is on the top of my list!
This Indonesian genius, who hails from Makassar and been raised by his single mother, has already been making waves in the region since he debuted his first collection last year. Along with his natural talent and passion, his exposure to fashion in New York city – where he took a course in the prestigious Parson’s New School of Design – has given him an extra credit and infused his traditional-inspired designs with some serious modern edge.

It’s hard to describe Toton’s designs with conventional terms as it looks like nothing I’ve seen before. Taking traditional Javanese embroidery details and using them to create strong and pronounced shapes and cuts, the designer has succeeded in creating a very distinguished look which is very modern and edgy yet ethnic-inspired.
From his take on the classic vest and trousers to the stunning hand-made collars which caught the eye of the likes of supermodel Andrej Pejic – even in shoes, Toton seeks to create something which is never seen before yet wearable and practical at the same time.
I love the originality in Toton’s work and I think it won’t be long before someone spots him and gives him the place he deserves in the international fashion sphere.


There’s nothing which says ‘one to watch’ more than being named by Christopher Bailey as the winner of the 2012 prestigious Fashion Fringe award and receiving, as a result, a studio at Somerset House (home of London Fashion Week) for four seasons and mentoring by Baily himself!
And with a major show at London Fashion Week this season, Haizhen is surely on the way to stardom and earning recognition from the rest of the fashion world.
The Chinese-born designer and Central Saint Martins graduate’s style is bold and graphic, focusing on perfectly cut garments but with an effortless feel. His designs are inspired by architecture and art history and are multi-faceted in that sense too.
I vloe the masculine feel of his separates which are softened by the use of flattering cuts and unexpected soft materials like chiffon. His work is most likely to be seen on major fashion personalities and magazines sooner than you think. Trust me on this!


Singapore has also been on the Asian fashion radar lately, thanks to a number of young designers emerging from this little red dot. While for the youngsters there is still a lot to be learnt before making it to international standards, one designer stands out for having that extra edge and maturity in his designs.
This is Lionel Low, who has started as one of the two founders of ready-to-wear label LION EARL last year and moved on by adding his made-to-order eponymous label only a few months ago.
Looking at signature pieces from the 24-year-old’s first collection, you could tell that he had passion for creating something glamorous yet cutting-edge that the middle of the road RTW market is not really the place for it.
The amount of intricate details in these pieces (the fraying of one skirt can take up to 45 hours of work alone!) and the flattering architectural cutting are definitely more couture than RTW.
But apart from creative cutting and techniques which the designer masters despite his young age, we also love Lionel’s most recent digital printed jersey dresses that are inspired by Japanese mythology. They have been a big hit and were quickly snapped up by the city’s young fashionistas.
And like LION EARL, his couture label is already being stocked at one of the hippest boutiques in town giving us the impression that it’s won’t be long before the glamorous crowd come flocking to him for unique frocks which are made to impress.


There is no place like Bangkok for cutting-edge fashion and surely, for that alone, the city might as well be dubbed as the London of Asia!
Among the hustle and bustle of this busy capital, comes MILIN, a quintessential label that has as much femininity as it has that urban rebellious character.
MILIN was founded a few years ago by designer Milin Yuvacharuskul, graduate of Central Saint Martins College in London, who perhaps has learnt a thing or two during her internship for Jil Stuart in New York,
Sounds promising, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s no surprise then that the label has been a local favourite and featured continuously in publications such as Vogue Thailand.
What distinguishes MILIN is that despite the understated designs, there is depth and originality in the textures, contours and overall look, which is like urban meets sensual at its best. I especially love how effortless, chic and sexy her mini-skirts look!
I can definitely picture the likes of Rooney Mara, Anne Hathaway and Gwenyth Palthrow showing off their to-die-for legs in those frocks.


Amid the obsession with blacks and greys in Asia and mostly seeking the pure and clean in terms of design, there stands out Yeashin Kim, a young South Korean designer who is not afraid to use colour and extravaganza and send doll-like costumes down the runway.
I admire young designers who venture into fashion making a bold statement and not compromising their ideas for commercial reasons, and this London College of Fashion graduate does just that.
By combining 60s English outfits with Korean traditional wear in her latest collection, she creates an unexpected mix which is rich, quite theatrical, but definitely wearable for those confident enough to pull it off.
The textures, cuts and cheerful details are all spot on and I can see them making stunning editorials in big fashion glossies.
It’s hard to miss Yeashin’s designs which empathize individuality and uniqueness and are a far cry from the uniform look which is shaped by trends rather than passion. So I'm thinking her moment to shine on a global theatre will be sooner than later!
This article was written for and first published at GlamAsia. Check out some more articles I've written for the online publication here.