Jun 4, 2021
WHILE RUNWAY-READY LOOKS FROM Gucci, Chanel, and every other major international fashion brand can all be spotted on the streets of Southeast Asia, these days, fashionistas around the region are turning heads with looks by homegrown talent. Here are just a few of the designers for whom we’re willing to wait on that international shipping to get the look.
If there’s a higher honor for a designer than having Beyonce wear your duds, we don’t know what it is. In 2019, Queen Bey made a splash at the AFI Awards in a cream-colored confection by Tran Phuong My. Born and raised in Saigon, the owner of this eponymous label is a global name, but she saves some of her best pieces as exclusives for her flagship store in her hometown. Expect richly textured fabrics and stunning dresses worthy of Hollywood royalty. And check out her bridal gowns: there’s an ivory silk number inspired by rose petals that has us saying, I do!
Cynthia Mak and Xiao Xiao joined forces in 2014 to bring a serious sense of flair to knitwear. Funky animal prints, eye-popping colors and bold block patterns mean these pieces are sure to capture the attention of everyone in the room. There’s a playfulness to everything they produce—who else would come up with the wildly popular “smartphone zombie” design?—which is part of why we love the fact that there’s a matching line for kids. For budding little fashionistas going shopping with mom in Central, these are the ultimate must-haves.
Oh, we envy shoppers in the Philippines, which is full of homegrown brands that wear their national spirit on their sleeve in the most contemporary and stylish of ways. This effortlessly eco-chic label is the brainchild of Cara Sumabat-Limjap, who first made a name for herself with contemporary reinterpretations of the iconic Filipino banig, a handwoven material traditionally made from seagrass. Her woven jumpsuits, dresses and accessories in a tastefully muted color palette are perfect for elevated resortwear.
Let’s face it: some of the looks that draw the most buzz at Fashion Week would be impossible to pull off anywhere except the Met Gala (Guo Pei, we’re looking at you and that epic, saffron-colored Rihanna dress). Sven and Kane Tan excel at the polar opposite of impractical couture—their sophisticated, minimalist creations would make up the capsule wardrobe of our dreams. In a similar vibe to the brand Theory, everything is eminently versatile and eminently wearable.
Bangkok has burgeoned into a design haven, with local creatives whipping up eye-catching accessories and runway-wear. Today’s up-and-coming designers owe a debt to Pimdao Sukhahuta and Matina Sukhahuta, the sibling duo behind one of Thailand’s first brands to break into the international market in a big way. Sretsis—“sisters,” spelled backward—imbues its hyper-feminine frocks with an element of gothic whimsy: lots of lace, colorful prints, and details that are both girlish and all grown up. They recently started designing home interiors, so you can live the whimsy, too… for a cool US$1 million.