AAPI HERITAGE MONTH

AAPI and Asian-Owned Brands to Shop Now and Always

by W Staff

Collage by Tilden Bissell for W magazine.

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 year 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 the current state of creativity 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 Junya Watanabe to up-and-comers like Supriya Lele and Abacaxi’s Sheena Sood, all of whom incorporate elements of their heritage into their designs in different ways. Here, some of our favorite Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander-owned brands from around the world to know and shop—now, and always.

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.

British-Indian designer Supriya Lele’s slinky, modern designs made her a finalist for the 2020 LVMH Prize.

Minju Kim, Korean designer and winner of Next in Fashion 2020, predominantly designs vibrant and mood lifting womenswear.

Issey Miyake’s signature pleating technique has inspired countless other designers since its inception in the early 1990s.

Yuhan Wang’s ethereal, artistic pieces are inspired by traditional Chinese ideas of femininity and their connections to Western Culture.

New York-based designer Peter Do immigrated from Vietnam to the US when he was 14. After working at Celine and Derek Lam, he started his own brand with a collective of friends that focuses on tailoring and construction.

The name of this knitwear company means “everyone” in Cantonese, meant to reflect the New York- and Hong Kong-based company’s ethos of making thoughtful, design-driven products that connect with customers.

Founded by friends Phillip Lim and Wen Zhou in 2005, 3.1 Philip Lim has always been a mainstay for chic, low-key pieces.

Hong Kong-based fine jeweler Wendy Yue’s fantastical designs are inspired by traditional architecture and lush natural elements.

Leorosa co-founder Julian Taffel gives credit to his Japanese mother for the brand’s colorful, inviting aesthetic sensibility.

Junya Watanabe’s patchwork jeans have been a quirky-chic menswear staple for decades.

Rokh designer Rok Hwang was born in Seoul and raised in Austin, Texas. His innovative pieces—now designed in London and shown in Paris—reflect a wholly modern outlook.

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

This Japanese streetwear brand, founded 25 years ago by Jun Takahashi, remains one of the most enigmatic labels in the world.

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

Prabal Gurung, a New York-based designer of Nepalese descent, has always made a point of supporting both the NYC economy (by manufacturing 80 percent of his pieces there) and his ancestral home, by raising money for local schools and earthquake relief efforts.

Surfer sisters Oleema and Kalani Miller named their swimwear brand Mikoh after a Japanese term that once meant “female shaman” or “female prophecy.”

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 the porcelain craftsmanship of Indonesia.

Sacai, founded by the Japanese designer Chitose Abe in 1999, feels just as cutting-edge today as it did then.

New York-based Sheena Sood started Abacaxi with a capsule of vintage silk pieces embroidered in Rajasthan, India. She now makes limited-edition pieces like this one in New Dehli.

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

Simone Rocha’s ladylike embellishments are always a welcome touch.

Claire Ngai makes charming, ultra nostalgic rings with recycled acrylic resin in her New York studio.