Asian Fashion Meets Tokyo
Asian Fashion Meets Tokyo is one of the week’s highlights, an initiative that discovers and showcases top talent from around the region—namely, Southeastern labels that don’t receive as much international exposure. This time, four designers from three different countries took the main stage: Lalalove from Thailand, Nguyen Cong Tri from Vietnam, and Rani Hatta and Bateeq from Indonesia, all of whom drew inspiration from their own culture.
Before the show, each spoke passionately of their local influences—Hatta of her mission to create modern, modest fashion for hijabi women, like herself and millions of Indonesian Muslims; she turned out a collection of sleek, minimal basics, subtly elevated by a few athletic details. Bateeq’s Michelle Tjokrosaputro discussed preserving the archive of beautiful batik prints, produced by her family for generations, as did Lalalove designer Linda Charoenlab, who sought to reimagine pakaoma, or handwoven Thai sarongs, in a sustainable, wearable way.
Perhaps most striking was Vietnamese designer Nguyen Cong Tri, who has been doing couture-level work in Ho Chi Minh City for 20 years. His inspiration came from the flower vendors who crowd the streets near his studio, carting homegrown tropical blooms. From the front, his models wore what appeared to be oversize white cotton and khaki shirting, cut in an architectural way. Yet spilling out the back of each piece was a profusion of lotus, banana, and apricot fabric flowers, elaborately hand-printed, embroidered, and layered over the course of three months. “In the front, you don’t see anything, but in the back, you see the whole world of flowers blooming,” he said backstage. “Those workers never wear anything beautiful, but they don’t realize that everything about themselves is very beautiful.” It was one of the week’s standouts, proving the value of taking a broader worldview in a single, well-executed stroke.