26 April 2010

the day after the night of

So the panel was great! I was so honored to be there; I've never been more scared to speak at anything in my life (speaking at Teen Vogue's Fashion University in October was more like a big girl talk to me, everyone was so nice and adorable). But all my nerves kind of calmed down once I answered the first question (afterwards my nerves had a seizure and died when I spoke to everyone personally... so honored. Thank you for your kind words! So much.)

Columbia kids -- can I call them/you kids when you're older than me? Probably not BUT I'M AN OLD LADY I GET TO OK -- brought up some amazing questions, of which I will not reiterate completely (you should have gone!) but there were some questions I'll elaborate on only because there just wasn't enough time to do so last night.

  • Why is there a dearth of Asian American designers like Yohji , Rei, Issey? Why aren't they succeeding? Are they?*
Well, Yohji, Rei, Issey, Hanae Mori in her heyday -- they aren't Asian American designers in the first place anyway. They're all Japanese, born and bred. In every interview they've done that I have read they've consistently said they don't want to even be considered "Asian Designers", simply designers. In fact, none of them even show in their home fashion weeks -- they all show at Paris Fashion Week and that is one of biggest reasons they've all done so well; Paris FW is home plate. You show in Paris and you'll be known everywhere (not really that simple, but that's the gist).

picture by refinery29.com of A.Wang' designs. Can you tell he's Asian by his designs? No. You can just tell it's good design.

I don't think there's a 'dearth' of asian designers, and Phillip Lim agrees with me... you can't even really put a number on how many asian designers there should be, there is no quota to fill. There is no mission statement that says there needs to be 10 very successful Caucasian designers, 10 asian, etc etc. If you're a good designer you are a good designer. You have something different to offer regardless of your ethnic background. Yeah, your cultural background influences your designs but only as much as you let it, really. Asian Designers don't have a magic gene that makes their designs more awesome than non asian designers and vice versa. They're simply good at what they do and they happen to be Asian.

I don't think Asian American designers aren't succeeding as well as their Caucasian peers (but can you name five African American or Hispanic designers that are really successful? Five or ten. If you can, list them in your comments please.).

I think if anything, they're doing quite well for themselves actually, more than others, considering the state of fashion right now. A lot of great designers have fallen -- both great old houses and new upstarts that had some great potential. But designers like Alexander Wang, Mr. AsianObama (I mean Jason Wu, hahaha I'm so funnyyyyyy not really), Phillip Lim -- they're all very prominent in the fashion industry and that doesn't seem to be changing. They're kicking butt and taking names.

good design isn't guaranteed by your ethnicity. 3.1 Phillip Lim Resort

They're actually doing better than Asia based designers right now too. No Korean designer has really ever made it big worldwide. Even Japanese designers, while they do well editorial wise and the Japanese fashion economy is one of the strongest in the world (though it's been noted that recently Japanese teens are spending less), Japanese designers are only available in Japan for the most part. There is no globalization. I think their lack of success can be blamed on any number of things...lack of government funding, lack of community, the image fashion designers have in other countries... lack of marketability and identity to people outside their culture... I don't know. South Korea, I love it so much, but it's got some huge huge problems not just the way the fashion industry is run there but suicide rate, body image (i mean 75%+ Koreans have or want plastic surgery? WHY?)... so many damn problems I feel like worrying about fashion is the least of their problems.

So yeah. Rambled, but Asian American designers have it good, methinks. I should probably get back to class now (I wrote this in AP Literature... woops)

*i didn't write down the question so I'm just rephrasing what I can remember, if I changed the question, sorry!

Anyway, this whole thing was just my opinion on the subject. Take it as it is.