Virtual Fashion Exhibition Heralding Asia's Fashion Future

The fashion world has never failed to astonish us with its ingenuity and inventiveness. Not even a global pandemic can deter them. Braving the Covid storm, the fashion industry has transformed itself digitally at ever faster speeds and revolutionised our fashion experience with virtual runway shows, fitting rooms and models, just to name a few. Fashion Asia Hong Kong rode the tide of the virtual trend and curated a virtual exhibition for its 10 Asian Designers to Watch 2020, a prestigious list of up-and-coming fashion talents selected annually by international industry leaders and experts. The exhibition features 10 specially designed 3-D showrooms showcasing the tours de force of the awarded fashion brands. It maximises their online exposure and connects them with international buyers, editors and fashion aficionados.

Without further ado, here are the best works of 10 promising Asian fashion brands.

Fashion label CHENPENG upholds fashion equalitarianism – everyone is entitled to pursue beauty. Their cocoon-like jackets are designed to fit all sizes, which founder Peng Chen calls one-sized fashion. "Nowadays people seek personalised expression in fashion. The boundaries between sizes, genders, skin colours are blurring, which is a sign of progress."

Caroline Hu, who established her eponymous brand in 2018, always draws inspiration from oil paintings to create a romantic and effortless feminine image that also stresses independence and spirituality. "Asian culture is deep in my blood and it has affected my aesthetics. Fashion design in Asia is booming and should not be underestimated. It is a powerful voice in today's globalised design world."

"The hybrid culture of Hong Kong has shaped my aesthetics," said Derek Chan, speaking of his label DEMO. While sometimes the culture subconsciously affects his idea development, other times its influence is more explicit. Take his SS21 collection 'Stars Fade, Legacy Remains', which drew inspiration from the Cantopop culture in the '80s to pay tribute to superstars such as Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung and their audacious performances.

Launched by A Sai Ta, ASAI interweaves Asian iconography with recognisable western tropes to explore the intersections of race and culture, and the shifting notions of identity. This unique sensibility has earned them attention and an opportunity to crossover with LVMH brand FENTY by Rihanna. What of Asia shaped his aesthetics? "The energy, poetry, mountains, pride, speed, strength, ambition, togetherness and hard-working spirit."

With strong sculptural shapes and a futuristic approach to materials, Robert Wun's eponymous label has attracted the attention of powerful female figures such as Lady Gaga and Cardi B. "One of the best things fashion can do is to challenge the standard of beauty, social norms and identity. In a globalised world, conversations about equality and representations need to happen in every industry."

Ji-sun Park and Kyu-yong Shin named their unisex label 'Blindness' to express their strong-willed focus on fashion. Their award-winning gender-neutral collections seek to subvert societal boundaries and stereotypes. The Korean duo reflected on how their culture influenced them, "The organza we used to convey the soft mood in our designs is widely used in hanbok, Korea's traditional dress. And the gender stereotypes of our society provoked us to experiment with the notion of gender fluidity."

Menswear label Cornerstone was established by Sun Yun who has more than two decades of experience in architecture. He believes Asian designers, substantiated by their own cultures, can deliver ever more powerful designs to the international stage. "Fashion has always been an expression of transcending experience and a fantasy for a future beyond our knowledge."

Children of the Discordance works with vintage and deadstock fabrics to create one-of-a-kind fashion influenced by a plethora of world cultures. Its founder Hideaki Shikama grew his passion out of Japanese street culture, a key fashion phenomenon in Asia. What the culture taught him, he said, was an emphasis on idiosyncrasy, or simply never wear the same things as others do.

Founded by Jin-woo Choi and Yeon-joo Koo, J KOO blends together the Korean street style and traditional Savile Row tailoring. The duo approach womenswear with a menswear sensibility from their design training, resulting in a sophisticated take on masculine-feminine duality. Speaking of being designers in a turbulent world, "we need to learn and act to change for a better world. Fashion is part of people's everyday essentials. It is time to think about what meaningful consumption is."

STAFFONLY, created by Shimo Zhou and Une Yea, juxtaposes geekiness and poetry, sharp concepts and innovative materials to offer a fresh and witty take on traditional menswear. Talking about the fashion future, "it is important for us to re-think everything, to revaluate everything – the way we communicate, the frequency we travel, the distance between people and between countries, etc. All of these push us to find a new paradigm for the world."

Explore the virtual exhibition to check out the unique showrooms and outfits from these 10 up-and-coming Asian designers.