By Ng Su Fey on April 26th, 2021
From the tropics of Bangkok to the runways of Paris, here are 10 Southeast Asian fashion designers making waves in the region and beyond.
Pimdao Sukhahuta is the creative director of Sretsis, an iconic Thai fashion house known for its fanciful charm. Established with her sisters (spell it backwards!) Klyduan and Matina, the brand has been worn by many notable figures, including Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa of BLACKPINK. Pimdao’s designs leave a lasting impression, merging colorful prints and dainty trimmings. From clothing to footwear to accessories, every piece is exquisitely crafted, as if extracted from the sweetest daydream.
Dutch-Vietnamese designer Xuan-Thu Nguyen is a regular presence at Paris Fashion Week, weaving a story through all she creates. Her haute couture label XUAN is a reflection of visual art, featuring bold contours and expressive embellishments that are often complemented by intricate full-face masks. Meanwhile, her second label PARIS re MADE is an ode to slow fashion. Established just last year, this is where Nguyen catalyses the regeneration of vintage and deadstock pieces.
London-based Malaysian designer Han Chong established Self-Portrait in 2013, with the goal of making ‘beautiful design accessible to all women’. Since then, the brand has experienced a meteoric rise to cult status, dominating the niche of contemporary luxury. Mixing delicate fabrics with timeless silhouettes, Chong’s designs have a distinctive air of effortless sophistication and style. With a clientele that includes Zendaya, Maisie Williams, and members of the British royal family, it would be easier to name figures who haven’t been spotted wearing Self-Portrait.
Melinda Looi has been a notable figure in the Malaysian and international fashion worlds for over two decades. Her ready-to-wear collections are an effervescent, whimsical interpretation of heritage fashion, featuring a blend of bright tones and ornate patterns. Meanwhile, her couture collections, which include stunning gowns and 3D-printed pieces, showcase artistic range. Looi designs across ages and cultures, a celebration of inclusivity and acceptance.
Dubai-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco is renowned for his breathtaking couture gowns. Expertly adorned with lace, crystals, feathers, and embroidery, his workmanship exhibits splendour fit for royalty. Since establishing his fashion house in 2003, Cinco has built up an elite clientele that includes Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Sofia Vergara. His designs, which come in a dazzling array of hues and silhouettes, have graced countless red carpets.
Biyan Wanaatmadja is one of Indonesia’s most prominent fashion designers, having been in the industry for over three decades. Inspired by tradition and heritage, his labels Biyan and Studio 133 Biyan feature modern, flowing forms rich with detail and decorative elements. A signature Wanaatmadja piece perfectly fuses patterns, textures, and embroidery to capture the romantic essence of the region.
One of twelve designers featured on Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn’s Making The Cut, Malaysian-Indonesian designer Jasmine Chong debuted her eponymous label at New York Fashion Week in 2016. Her sculptural collections are designed and constructed in the Garment District, the historical core of the American fashion world. Gracefully experimenting with form and fabric, Chong’s ethereal designs float over the body in a striking display of presence.
Nguyen Cong Tri
Hailing from Da Nang, Nguyen Cong Tri designs “for women who are the doyennes of our time.” This ethos has certainly proved true; his newest label CONG TRI counts Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Kristen Bell, and more among its international clientele. From elegant gowns to chic casualwear, Nguyen’s vibrant collections exude confidence and class.
Chelsea Scott-Blackhall (British-Singaporean, based in NYC)
British-Singaporean designer Chelsea Scott-Blackhall is the founder and creative force behind DZOJCHEN, a luxury fashion label based in New York City. The brand redefines traditional tailoring while still retaining a classic expression. Think statement fabrics like jacquard and suede, kimono-inspired belts, and dizzying motifs. Scott-Blackhall’s universally-flattering designs are favoured by countless figures including Janelle Monáe, Timothée Chalamet, and Regé-Jean Page.
Tom Trandt Minh Đạo
Tom Trandt Minh Đạo is the mastermind behind Môi Điên, a label that glorifies youth culture and targets the unapologetic individual, unafraid to be bold. Trandt studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York before moving home to Saigon, intent on shaking up the local fashion scene. While Môi Điên draws on the energies of both cities, Trandt told W Magazine that his aesthetic is ultimately inspired by everyday characters in Vietnam, like the street vendor lady with stacked gold bracelets, or a tattooed man wearing next to nothing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Su Fey is Dia’s intern from Malaysia. She is currently on a gap year and has volunteered with local welfare and environmental organizations. Her interests include sustainable development, literature, and film photography. Su Fey is planning to pursue a degree in engineering and will begin her undergraduate studies this fall.