On the up
Female Singapore|November 2020
FROM AN IRANIAN MILLINER CRAFTING FANTASTICAL HATS THAT RESEMBLE SCULPTURE TO A GENDER-FLUID HONG KONG LABEL CHALLENGING TRADITIONAL NOTIONS OF MASCULINITY, THE SEVEN EMERGING BRANDS FEATURED HERE SHARE ONE THING IN COMMON: FOUNDERS WITH ROOTS IN ASIA – AND BOLD IDEAS THAT THE WORLD SHOULD KNOW ABOUT. KENG YANG SHUEN REPORTS.
KENG YANG SHUEN

COMMISSION

Who by and where from: The New York-based trio of Huy Luong and Dylan Cao from Vietnam and Jin Kay from South Korea – all first-generation immigrants who met while studying at the Parsons School of Design and started the label in 2018. Why know it: Think of Commission as the founders’ love letter to their origins – or more specifically their mothers in the ’80s, when they were forging their respective careers in an East Asian landscape that was just starting to come into its own. This sweet story has translated into trendy yet polished interpretations of office-friendly wear that slyly winks at the working mum’s wardrobe from the era and motifs anyone who’s grown up in East Asia would find familiar. This season, for instance, florals just like the kind Luong’s and Cao’s grandmas would wear at home turn up on elegant draped midi dresses and pleated skirts. Design-minded women would meanwhile appreciate the brand’s sleek and languid staples that are spiked with just the right dose of thoughtful details such as a double row of belt loops on a slim, superbly cut pair of pants. Is it any wonder that the starmaking Net-a-porter enlisted the brand right from its first season as part of its emerging designer Vanguard programme and that it was shortlisted for this year’s LVMH Prize?

CARO CHIA

Who by and where from: The 25-year-old Caro Chia from Malaysia. Why know it: Having just launched earlier this year, this eponymous label might be the most obscure name on this list, but we’ve a feeling that it won’t stay under wraps for long. Chia’s Instagram account (@caro__chia), for instance, is catnip for design buffs with artfully taken visuals of her garments interspersed with that of abstract sculptures by the likes of the Dada-influenced Barbara Hepworth and Jean Arp. The latter and art in general are powerful influences on Chia, whose designs resemble fluid, architecturally cut experiments characterised by what she calls “uncertain” shapes. A corset top features extended panels with graphic, curved lines crafted from contrasting fabric. A diaphanous one-piece that she created during lockdown is more akin to a biomorphic Richard Serra installation than an evening appropriate dress that has been ingeniously twisted and draped. That Chia’s designs come across as both cerebral and simmeringly sensual is no surprise – she interned at Supriya Lele (also featured in this story) and counts Helmut Lang as her fashion hero for the way he “interacted with fashion from an artist’s perspective”. For now, head to her website (www.carochia.com) for enquiries though we predict bigger things to come her way. (FYI: she’s also a sculptor and was behind all the ones depicted in the pictures here, alongside her clothes.)

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