If You Know, You Know: These Emerging Asian-Designed Brands Are Redefining Cool


It's a big world out there, and it's about time the industry acknowledges that. As an editor, I continuously keep my eyes and ears open for brands and names across the globe that inspire new modes of style and spark creativity. Today, I'm delving into the Asian-designed brands that are redefining what it means to be cool.

The impact of Asian culture on fashion is innumerable and immense, and as we continue to comb through the trends that pervade the industry today, it's important to give credit where it's due. From Shanghai and Milan to Tokyo and New York City, these emerging brands have delighted us with their interpretations of '90s nostalgia and clean-cut, modern minimalism. Of course, this is just a small sampling of the brilliant designers out there, but it represents the diverse scope of Asia's cultural influence nonetheless. Keep reading to see the full list of brands and to shop our favorite pieces from each.



(Image credit: @ivangrianti)

Leave your Y2K slogan tees at home. We've now entered the era of logo earrings. Emblazoned with phrases like "Help me" and "For your health," Jiwinaia is true to the Gen Z brand of sartorial satire. You won't see such eccentric pieces on anyone else, and that's precisely the point. Created by Central Saint Martins graduate Marisa Jiwi Seok, the Milan-based brand has already received the seal of approval from celebs such as Dua Lipa, Rosalía, and K-pop artist CL.


(Image credit: @dualipa)

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(Image credit: @commission_official)

Based in New York City and founded by friends Jin Kay, Dylan Cao, and Huy Luong, Commission was inspired by the designers' nostalgic style from their youths. Retro floral prints and tailored dresses are flagship pieces from the label and are a callback to the outfits their mothers wore in the '80s and '90s. While Commission is a celebration of the past, there's always a modern touch that feels right on the nose for today's fashion climate.

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(Image credit: @shushu__tong)

Emerging out of Shanghai, Shushu/Tong is the independent fashion label reimagining femininity. Created and designed by duo Liushu Lei and Yutong Jiang, the brand's stunning embellishments and joyful, girly patterns are anything but ordinary. Since I saw images from its latest collection, the minidresses, in particular, have lived in my mind rent-free.

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(Image credit: @bellsiris via @thebonbonwhimsclub)

We at Who What Wear are big fans of BonBonWhims's bubbly, Y2K aesthetic, and we're not the only ones. Its chunky Juice Bomb rings have graced the fingers of everyone from Ariana Grande to Kylie Jenner, and now, the brand is a staple among fashion It girls across social media. Clare Ngai started creating her famous rings during quarantine, and within months, they spiraled into full-fledged It items. Other than rings, you can find kidcore pieces that will bring you back to the glory days of the early aughts, like smiley face charm bracelets and colorful, whimsical earrings.

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(Image credit: @auralee_tokyo)

Ryota Iwai is the creative mind behind the gender-neutral label Auralee. Its no-fuss, easygoing silhouettes remind me of Gap's casual-cool era in the '90s, with the exception that everything is produced from premium fabrics in Japan. Although minimalism is at the center of Auralee's aesthetic, the brand is not entirely comprised of plain white tees and blue jeans. The oversize shapes and detailed constructions set its pieces apart, tiptoeing the delicate line between trendy and timeless.

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(Image credit: @cfcl_official)

For all the minimalists out there, it's time to get acquainted with CFCL. After serving as the men's design director for Issey Miyake, Yusuke Takahashi left the company to start CFCL in 2020. An acronym for Clothing for Contemporary Life, the label feels like a millennial blend of Issey Miyake and Uniqlo, offering simple basics in an assortment of neutral tones. Where the brand really shines through is in its sumptuous ribbed knits and abstract fluted shapes—which I personally wouldn't mind owning in every color.

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This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Fashion Market Editor

Indya Brown is a fashion editor, stylist, and writer living in Los Angeles. While going to school at Columbia University in New York City, she got her feet wet in the fashion industry interning at Elle magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and New York magazine's The Cut. After graduating in 2016, she joined The Cut as a fashion assistant, eventually working her way up to fashion editor. There, she worked on a multitude of projects, including styling inbook feature stories for New York magazine's print issue, writing and pitching market stories for The Cut, and serving as fashion lead for The Cut's branded content. While New York has been her home for over 10 years, she moved to Los Angeles in the midst of the pandemic in 2020 for a new chapter. Now she is a fashion market editor for Who What Wear, focusing on emerging designers, rising trends on and off the internet, interior design, and BIPOC creatives and brands. Aside from her duties as a fashion market editor, Brown is also a freelance stylist and writer, working on national print and video commercial campaigns for Sephora, The Independent, and Cadillac. Her bylines also include Harper's Bazaar, Vox, and The New York Times. But once the computer goes down and the emails turn off, she's likely eating her way through Koreatown, hunting down vintage furniture, scoping out new outrageous nail designs to try, or taking a hot cycling class.