Online fashion authority Business of Fashion released its annual BOF500 list and it's hard to ignore the increasing number of designers, photographers, entrepreneurs and models hailing from this side of the world who are making their mark on the global fashion stage.
From groundbreaking designers to media moguls who are shaping the region's sartorial landscape, below are 15 of Asia's most prominent figures in fashion.
What started as a passion project for this Generation T 2017 lister and sneaker head is now one of the most prominent titles not just in streetwear, but in fashion. “The content has definitely changed from being sneaker centric to more fashion geared,” Kevin Ma told Kitsune. “Hypebeast started out talking about all the “hyped” products on the market. Now, it’s more about what actually looks good.” In 2015, Hypebeast was amassing over 54 million views per month.
With a following that’s in the millions, Ye Si or ‘Gogoboi’ is a chief influencer in China’s fashion world—so much so that we made him the cover star of our August 2017 issue of Shangliu Tatler. Back in 2014, he took his fame beyond Weibo and WeChat and co-founded Mission, an agency that now works with leading brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy.
Dubbed the “Mario Testino of China”, Chen Man has played a prominent role in the evolution of China’s fashion aesthetic through her sophisticated, dream-like photography that often brings together modern fashion with elements of Chinese culture. Back in 2013, Man shot a stunning cover story featuring Bonnae Gokson for the September issue of Hong Kong Tatler.
Korean designer Jun Wook Jun’s label, Juun.J, is one of Asia’s most successful menswear labels, and his androgynous military-like designs have made him somewhat of a cult hero. He has showcased his collections at Paris Fashion Week since 2009. In 2017, he made his Hong Kong debut at Centrestage Elites, after which he spoke to us exclusively about what inspires his unique designs.
Guo Pei has been dressing China's “who’s who” in her lavish couture pieces for over three decades—we even had the pleasure of visiting her incredible three-story atelier on the outskirts of Beijing, long before Hollywood took notice of the talented couturier. But when Rihanna wore that yellow gown by Pei at the Met Gala in 2015, Pei immediately rose to international acclaim. In 2016, she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People and that same year, she became a guest member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
Designer Jun Takahashi has defined an era of Japanese fashion with his iconic label, Undercover, which he founded in 1993. From the brand’s early sophisticated yet punk-inspired collections, Undercover has evolved to producing wildly successful collaborations with the likes of Uniqlo, as well as with Nike under the label Nike x Undercover Gyakusou.
China’s PR powerhouse is behind the success of some of the region’s most high profile events, including celebrity appearances, shows, parties and exhibitions for brands such as Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton and Burberry. Chua also acts as a manager for Shanghainese supermodel Du Juan, and actresses Shu Qi and Maggie Cheung.
Two of Tokyo’s leading style icons, Verbal and Yoon founded Ambush Design Company in 2002 and launched their couture jewellery line, Antonio Murphy & Astro, in 2004. It wasn’t until 2015 that the brand made its international debut, showcasing their Autumn/Winter 2015 collection the Joyce Gallery in Hong Kong. The pair is often seen photographed with their famous friends, which include Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and Kim Jones.
Xander Zhou was the first Chinese designer to show at London Fashion Week Men’s, and his eponymous brand can now be found in 20 locations throughout East Asia, Western Europe, North America and the Middle East. Aside from designing, he uses his position as a respected fashion consultant to introduce other Chinese labels to international stylists, photographers and model agencies.
In 2005, Angelica Cheung launched Vogue China’s inaugural issue, which sold out of its 300,000 copies and was reprinted twice. “At the time, international titles were not giving China the respect it deserved as a market. They would syndicate and translate material from elsewhere,” she told the Financial Times. “It dawned on me that I could create something entirely new.” Since then, she has played an imperative role in championing China’s fast-growing and dynamic fashion industry.
After cutting patterns at Comme des Garçons under Rei Kawakubo and later designing for Junya Watanabe, Chitose Abe launched her cutting edge label Sacai in 2009. To date, it remains one of the most celebrated and influential brands with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour and Suzy Menkes rallying behind her.
Eva Chen, head of fashion partnerships, Instagram
It’s the age of the influencer, and Eva Chen is sitting front row. The Taiwanese-American, who previously worked as an editor at Condé Nast, now works closely with representatives from across the fashion industry to strategise storytelling methods on Instagram.
Given Fan BingBing’s doll-like features, it’s no surprise that fans are always anxious to see what the young Chinese actress is wearing on screen, on the red carpet, or just…anywhere. The style icon was made the face of Louis Vuitton in China in 2013 and was ranked on Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed list in 2015 and 2016.
As the first Asian model to appear in campaigns for Estee Lauder and Victoria’s Secret, and having walked a record 74 shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris for the Autumn/Winter 2009 season, followed by 70 for Spring/Summer 2010, it’s no wonder Liu Wen was named “China’s first bona fide super model” by the New York Times.
She may be known for her roles in The Wolverine and Ghost in the Shell, but Rila Fukushima has recently gained a strong following as a fashion muse. Loved by the likes of Nicholas Ghesquiere, Fukushima has appeared on multiple covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and even opened Louis Vuitton’s Cruise Show in Kyoto earlier this year.