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If you weren’t that well-versed and someone asked you what you knew about the influence of Asian culture within the fashion industry, you look to the label on the back of your shirt that says “Made in China/India/Thailand.” But the truth is that the influence of Asian heritage and Asian designers in the fashion world goes beyond a label on the back of a T-shirt. Some of the most prolific designers in the industry have been of Asian descent. If you were to go back even further, some of the greatest technological advancements, like silk discovery, have come from Asia. But it comes as no surprise that Asian as a descriptor fails to represent the vast array of nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, and even style within it.
Of course, racial descriptors aren’t the only thing that’s historically fallen short—the fashion industry has long failed to represent or recognize most marginalized communities. Sure we’ve seen strides, and there are talented people (like Black stylists) leading the change. But it’s more important than ever to continue being allies including to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Fashion brands were quick to help around the COVID-19 crisis, but there is yet to be massive movement around addressing the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.
And while some brands are donating proceeds to AAPI Organizations, that’s not enough. We have to be actively anti-racist, and the easiest way we can do this as fashion lovers, is by learning about and shopping pieces from this community. Ahead we’re highlighting some of the designers both from the United States and abroad who show the full spectrum not only of fashion design but of humanity. Keep scrolling to learn more about them.
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