ASEAN Designers Emerging in the Fashion Market

Starting from around 2014, Tokyo Fashion Week has been seeing more designers from ASEAN countries. The Thai brand Sretsis is one example. Opening the 2015-2016 A/W Fashion Week, the brand has been expanding its outlets in Japan. Although it closed its Minami-Aoyama boutique in Tokyo, their wholesale business has been successful.

Curated by Ek Thongprasert, a brand that has been expanding its business scope in Thailand and popular among local celebrities as well as artists, made its first appearance at Fashion Week. African masks and body painting art were used to showcase his line which proposed the designer’s modern interpretation of the culture. Knitwear and coats had tribal patterns, and the atmosphere of the show itself was designed by taking inspiration from the work of Daniel Arkham and Haruki Murakami. Menswear and womenswear alike are composed of basic items with a realistic touch, and the chic colors and airy fabrics used in his designs are sure to be embraced by the Tokyo market. After graduating from Antwerp's Royal Academy, the designer showcased his work in Paris and went on to achieve awards in design competitions. He also participated in the 2010 Christmas Project for Comme Des Garcons, and is becoming a well-known Thai designer with a solid reputation.

Two brands from Indonesia, ETU by Restu Anggraini and Toton, also showcased their modern collections. ETU designs are modest using details and forms to hide body shapes, targeting those who need or choose to by religion. With its main focus on length and volume, the clothing line offers pants and long vests with layers as well as traditional muslim looks with a more casual style. The brand Toton on the other hand, has a line of delicate blouses and structured dresses, and uses ethnic prints as well as designs and colors which articulate the beauty of nature. Although inspired by nature and traditional elements, the looks in his collection are modern.

Designers become refined by continuing to do shows and testing their marketability along the way. If these designers continue to showcase their work at Tokyo Fashion Week it will surely make an impact on the industry. Asian designers started gaining attention at the NY Fashion Week six or seven years ago and have since then been chosen as directors of well-known fashion houses. Although NY and Tokyo can not be easily compared, when the time comes, Asian designers are sure to become the faces of fashion in Tokyo.