15 Brands from Asia Showing Strong Potential
Being an avid follower of the upcoming designers to watch, I hopped on a plane to Singapore to partake in the Audi Fashion Festival and BLUEPRINT trade-show events in the Southeast Asia capital city.
These events are part of the Asia Fashion Exchange, which aims to position Singapore as Asia's leading fashion hub, and is made up of four pillar events. First, there was the Asia Fashion Summit, a premier business conference for industry professionals. This year’s speakers included Steven Kolb from the CFDA; accomplished writer and Audi's Fashion Festival Creative Director Colin McDowell, and designer Thomas Tait, who is one of the finalist for the prestigious LVMH Young Designer Prize being awarded this month. Then there was BLUEPRINT, a trade show that positions itself as the fashion trade gateway to Asia, which creates business opportunities between international buyers and promising design players.
There was also the Audi Fashion Festival. A showcase of world-class collections by both top designers- this season, Prabal Gurung opened the event and Oscar de la Renta supplied the closing show- and emerging global designers. And finally, there was the Audi Star Creation event which is a regional competition that encourages young talents.
An important role in the realization of the initiative goes to Mercury Marketing and Communications and the Textile and Fashion Federation of Singapore (TaFf), which is actively developing local fashion industry. During the whole event, and especially at its trade-show BLUEPRINT, I spotted a number of interesting labels and designers. Here is my pick of 15 brands from Asia that show a strong potential for global growth.
PHUONG MY, Vietnam.
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Phuong My is a graduate of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. Her creative talents are expressed both through her work as the chief designer for the PHUONG MY brand and also production and styling projects for key fashion magazines in the region such as ELLE, HARPER’S BAZAAR and VOGUE. The young designer is looking to expand her vision to the global fashion scene.
CHUN TING LIU, Taiwan
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CHUN TING LIU’s signature brand was founded in 2012. The designer imports high quality fabrics for his creations from France and Italy, as well as Hong Kong. I loved his romantic aesthetic, which to me looked very European but had an Asian edge to it, which was most clearly expressed in his chosen silhouettes and cuts. CHUN TING LIU works on creating unique materials and some of his fabrics are environmentally friendly and recyclable.
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Abcense is a footwear brand based in Taipei and created by the designer duo Jhuosan and Yoyo, respectively Product and Fashion Designer. Layering the finest hand-dyed and hand finished materials (burnished calfskin, dyed haircalf), the designers are mixing them to create “unexpected details and silhouette”. Abcense shoes are inspired by Oriental culture and the traditional concept of “blank-leaving”, a technique used in Oriental poetry and art. The Brand has 8 stockists already in Europe, USA, Asia and UAE.
HEADS OF STATE MILLINERY, Singapore
One of the few millinery designers from Singapore, Chee Sau Fen launched her brand in 2011. Her work explores issues of sustainability, and all hats are handmade. Her latest collection is inspired by jellyfish, and features collapsible crowns and reshapable brims. Some hats even combine with others to form new pieces.
KSANYUSUN by SUN YIJIN, China
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A Chinese native, Yijin seeks to use her works to bring back to life some of the lost art of Chinese traditional costumes and handcrafting techniques belonging to the nation’s 56 different ethic groups. Yijin draws inspiration from the shapes of traditional outfits and the historic colors of China. Also, her life long passion for painting has led her to create her own fabric, which are used in her new collection entitled “Winter”.
VU TA LINH, Vietnam
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One of the winners of Audi Star Creation, Vu Ta Linh attended the Hanoi Academy of Theater and Cinema, where he fell in love with the traditional Vietnamese costumes. His new collection is called “Indigo” and is inspired by a song of a popular Vietnamese singer.
MATTER MATTERS, China
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From Hong Kong, China comes the witty brand MATTER MATTERS. The pieces created by the house get there starting points in everything from Postmodernism, Art Deco, and Memphis movements to mod couture and contemporary Bauhaus-inspired designs. The color palette of the modern classic artists David Hockney and Edward Hopper also influenced the brand’s first collection. This is a “one to watch” accessory label.
PAULINE NING, Singapore
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Eponymous label PAULINE.NING is the brainchild of Pauline Lim. Based in Singapore, Pauline graduated from Lasalle College of the Arts, a highly respected local fashion institution. The designer even continuing to teach at her Alma Mater, despite having an intense schedule of showing her collections in Singapore, Seoul and even USA, where PAULINE.NING was presented in Coterie Tradeshow TMRW.
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Depression is a label created by Andrew Loh and Kenny Lim. It boasts a number of great stockists, like famous WUT Berlin and solestruck.com, where according to its buyer Henry Bae, Depression’s most daring shoes are sold with great success. Apart from that, the designers already have their own store, where Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas comes to shop when he is in Singapore. Andrew Loh and Kenny Lim also created the happy diffusion line ANTIDEPRESSANT, a trendy and younger line of graphic t-shirts and basics that are inspired by anything from rock stars to geek cultures, as well as a newly minted streetwear brand dubbed NOT COOL ENOUGH.
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Lalolove was born out of a simple t-shirt line that founder/designer Linda Charoenlab first dabbled in as a side project. Lalalove’s signature print designs are edgy, relevant and speaking volumes about the brand’s design philosophy. Using vibrant colors and wry sense of humor, the prints often reflect current affairs and the state of the world. Now a full-fledged garment line, Lalalove prides itself in being eco-friendly with all fabrics being 100 percent digitally made as opposed to the usual silk screening.
ONG SHUNMUGAM, Singapore
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In December 2010, Ong Shunmugam launched with its first ready-to-wear collection Orientalism, and since then never failed to please brand’s customers with ready-to-wear collections. The founder of the label Priscilla Schunmugam was “Designer of the year” at the local Elle Awards in 2012. Ong Shunmugam’s collection is an interesting interpretation of traditional Asian dress.
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From Designer Chelsea Scott-Blackhall comes DZOJCHEN, which is the Sanskrit word for wholeness. Thanks to her English-Singaporean Chinese heritage, this designer’s brand is rooted in the contrasting cultures, and practical and philosophical influences of East and West. The brand boasts a strong distribution in US and Asia.
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Created by Parsons graduate Gilda Su, RÊVASSEUR is a mix of whimsical and avant garde designs, with strong silhouettes, a play on textures and prints. The designer aims to bring “fun” back into fashion, and looks to be succeeding. Her collections are stocked in four countries and her label is mentioned in international titles like Vogue UK, Elle Singapore and Vogue Korea.
Born in Osaka, Roggykei started with a concept “Clothes as accessories, Accessories as clothes”. The fashion label opened an atelier and a gallery shop in 2011 before expanding to make clothes for many artists and celebrities, including Lady Gaga. The designers behind the label, Hitoshi KOROGI and Keiko MIYAKOSHI studied patten-making at Osaka Fashion Design Academy.
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Morphe, part of the Creative Group, is an Indian design label. The latest collection from the brand featured delicate screen printing, compact cottons, silk crepe de chine and organza. Graphic elements and color palette of the line were drawn from Mark Rothko.