Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Phenomenon of Asian American Designers

Peter Som AW 09 Peter Som SS 10
Peter Som SS 10
Peter Som AW09
Phillip Lim SS 10
Phillip Lim SS 10
Phillip Lim AW 09
Phillip Lim SS 10
Alexander Wang SS 10
Alexander Wang SS 09
Alexander Wang Fall Previous 10
Alexander Wang SS 09

Those who read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Outliers would be familiar with his main concept: certain groups of people that are part of the same historic wave and share ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds often display common traits which ultimately propel them to success. Among many examples Malcolm Gladwell spoke of founders of all major internet/blue chip companies: like Bill Gates many were part of the same generation, majority came from middle-class families and all had access to one of a kind resarch facility in Palo Alto, which at the time had most advanced publicly available computer technology. Gladwell’s concept was exactly what came to mind when I started thinking of this next post: growing wave of Asian American designers that are taking fashion industry by storm.

Recent WSJ article assessed this phenomenon of Asian American design talent, by finding a common thread in their backgrounds (among others article focused on Jason Wu and Thakoon): parents of 20-30 something designers were part of 60th immigration wave. Unlike previous immigration waves, parents believed that their children can succeed in any career, including creative fields. As a result more Asian American kids went into fashion design. I find this explanation interesting but covering only one of many influencing factors, most important of which, were raw talent and hard word.

The likes of Peter Som, Alexander Wang and Phillip Lim, who are some of my favorite designers of today, all bring a whole new aesthetic to US fashion industry; there is an element of Euro chic and American casual. But what’s far more interesting, in all of their collections there something we haven’t seen before: I don’t know if its fusion of global influences, but I do know that these designers are here to stay.

Other remarkable Asian American Designers worth checking out: Andrew GN, Thakoon, Doo Ri, Derek Lam, Jason Wu.

Sources:, Malcolm Gladwell The Outliers


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