A traditional business suit can be transformed into a bold power suit, made from recycled sari fabric and embellished with traditional prints like paisley. The going-out top gets a facelift with a mandarin collar and matching miniskirt.
The diaspora is increasingly seeking exclusively Asian-American fashion, and Asian-owned brands are responding by increasingly emphasizing their identity combined with modern, culturally-inspired clothing collections. They are using fabrics, cuts and accessories to meet the needs of the communities.
And the demand has been evident: For example, HoliCHIC, an American Indian clothing company based in New York City, has seen a 310% increase in sales since 2021, according to the brand. Dawang, a New York-based Chinese-American streetwear company, has doubled its sales every year since its inception in 2019, the company told NBC News.
Megha Rao, the founder and designer of HoliCHIC, said she has a following of young professionals from South Asia who are looking for Indo-Western clothing to wear to work and events and when going out.
Rao, 40, said that from sari-inspired formal dresses to jewel-toned blazers embroidered with traditional Indian designs, HoliCHIC set out to make pieces that were subtle but unmistakably South Asian.
HoliCHIC also sells traditional Indian clothing, but its Indo-Western collections, which include pieces like pencil dresses and crop tops made from silk fabric, often used to make sarees or lenghas, two-piece Indian formal suits including floor-length skirts and crop tops. . shirts are his most popular pieces.
«It’s really about [using] South Asian Textiles – The traditional embroidery and fabrics that we all love and appreciate,” she said. “Normally, you will find it in a sari or a lengha. But as a designer, I’m constantly trying to think of unique ways to play with cuts.»
indian textiles They have historically been known for their vibrant dyes, distinctive weaves, intricate embroidery, and patterned prints. Rao used those textiles, typically made into Indian clothing, to create some of his most popular items.
“It’s like a fresh new take on all these beautiful fabrics our moms used to wear,” she said.
Rao said her mother and upbringing inspired her to make products like a blue silk sari cocktail dress and a lime green silk tracksuit, colors inspired by women’s Indian formal wear.
“I think that’s where the uniqueness of the designs comes from. Yes, I am from South Asia, but I am also American and I am also from New York, the fashion capital of the world,” she said.
She believes her success is due in part to the shift in perspective of Asian Americans, including her own, with a new respect for and interest in their own cultures.
“I have this sense of pride and responsibility to show people what my beautiful culture is about, and there is interest in it at the same time, that may not have been there before,” he said.
Other designers have also found inspiration for their brands through their Asian heritage.
Daisy Wang, the founder and designer of Dawang, said she wanted to find a balance between western and eastern influences for her collections.
Clothing ranges from dresses and crop tops to sweatshirts and sweatpants. The collections include details such as knot button closures and qipao collars, also known as the mandarin collar, a short high collar that originated in imperial China.
“One of the main things that we have continued to use seasonally is brocade weaving,” he said, adding that Dawang has been trying to “figure out… how we can incorporate this traditional weave into our modern designs.”
brocaded silk it is woven to give the illusion of raised embroidery. Brocade production began in ancient China, and designs on silk quickly became more complex during the Renaissance. The fabric remains a staple in traditional Asian fashion.
Dawang’s pieces feature designs such as clouds and traditional Chinese patterns.
Wang explained how fashion has evolved in the country over the past 5,000 years, including the influence of Western culture during the early part of the 20th century. The influence of western culture was in a tighter qipao dress but retaining the iconic collar.
“As a younger generation, we live in this world where everything gets mixed up. Why can’t we create another interpretation based on our modern understanding, our modern styles? So that inspired me,” she said.
Wang, 28, believes the rapid growth of Asians in the US and the Asian diaspora’s pursuit of unique fashion likely play a role in his company’s success.
Influencers like Milan Mathew have also taken the opportunity to show their culture through fashion and accessories.
Mathew, a South Asian American who has 1 million followers on TikTok, is known for her fashion and lifestyle videos. She includes traditional Indian jewelry with her Western fashion, such as wearing jhumkas, a traditional Indian bell-shaped earring, with a white dress. She also wears tikkas, an ornate headdress that is placed in the middle part of the hair and on the forehead. She pairs the same type of earrings and a gold nose ring with blue jeans and a puffer jacket.
“I love jhumkas and our tikkas. But when I see it, it is mostly used for Indian functions like weddings or parties,” she said. “But why can’t I use it normally? Most of the time I wear my jhumkas with my street clothes or with an Indian style nose ring. Add that little touch to your outfits, and there’s, like, a lot of meaning behind it.»
Mathew grew up in India and now lives in Houston. He found success on TikTok during the pandemic when he started making videos about Indian fashion. One of his most popular videoswhich has 16 million views, shows her trending on TikTok where she transitioned from street clothes to a lengha and traditional jewelry.
Since then, she has become a full-time lifestyle content creator, creating videos about fashion, makeup, and hair. She still makes videos styling sarees and lenghas with ornate Indian jewelry, but she’s found subtle ways to incorporate that look into other videos. Her jhumkas and Indian-style nose rings are often featured in her videos and on her Instagram account.
Mathew, 25, said adding Indian-style jewelry like bracelets and earrings to her outfits has made her feel prettier than simple Western jewelry.
“It’s not too extravagant as far as the outfit is concerned. She is being added to it. When I wear my nose ring, I feel very pretty. When you wear the jhumkas, you just feel prettier,” she said.
CORRECTION (May 8, 2023 10:00am ET): An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Megha Rao’s age. He is 40, not 44.