May 11, 2022

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Shop AAPI Fashion Brands – 17 Asian Fashion Brands to Know

asian fashion brands

Design by Yoora Kim

It’s been a tough year and a half for the AAPI community with anti-Asian hate crimes and racial harassment on the rise. Celebrities like K-Pop phenomenons BTS, Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee and “To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before” actress Lana Condor have spoken out against anti-Asian hate, calling fans to condemn the violence and stand with their AAPI friends and family.

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Chriselle Lim spoke to Seventeen about how important Asian representation is — especially in such a tumultuous time. “Growing up and looking at media, I didn’t see anyone that looked like me, and I immediately just wanted to look not like me, so I didn’t look Asian. It’s so important that brands are able to show more Asian faces. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still so much more work.”

Chriselle is right — and it’s especially important to support businesses that are uplifting the AAPI community by destigmatizing the conversation around mental health, like fashion brand Love, Bonito. Chriselle is working with the Southeast Asian company to donate $20,000 to the Asian Mental Health Project, because “even pre-pandemic, the Asian community was the least-likely ethnic group to access mental health treatments due to systemic barriers and stigma around mental health.” Chriselle tells us that “coupled with COVID-19 related racism, there’s a lot of shame, fear, and guilt. So it’s important to take actionable steps to create a better future for our community.”

When it comes to supporting Asian businesses, Chriselle tells Seventeen that “the biggest way to support a community is putting money back into the community to allow for more opportunity and resources to fuel the next generation, [who will] hopefully live in a more equal society.”

Maybe you’re already supporting the AAPI community on a daily basis by buying your boba from a local Asian-owned business, stocking Asian-owned beauty brands, or watching movies that tell AAPI stories, like Crazy Rich Asians or Seeing Red. Those are all great steps — and you can keep voting with your dollar by supporting entrepreneurs who have started Asian fashion and accessory labels, too. It doesn’t hurt that these AAPI-owned fashion brands make really, really cute clothing.

Don’t know where to start? We’ve put together a list of the cutest items to shop from the trendiest Asian-owned fashion brands that should totally be on your radar for AAPI month and beyond!

Portions of this interview have been lightly edited for clarity.

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Price Range: $

Not only was Baggu founded by an Asian American woman, Emily Sugihara, but it’s actually also one of our favorite eco-friendly brands. Emily realized that reusable bags were everywhere in Japan long before they became trendy in America, and created her own sustainable bag brand. Each Baggu bag folds into a tiny little square that you can toss into your backpack for whenever you might need it!

Plus, you won’t find a cuter selection of patterns anywhere else.

2

Best Size-Inclusive Brand

Girlfriend

Snapdragon Compressive High-Rise Legging

Price Range: $$

Size Range: XXS – 6XL

Girlfriend Collective was started by AAPI-founder Quang Dinh, who created the activewear brand when he realized that his wife couldn’t find environmentally-friendly options. We love their commitment to size-inclusivity *and* their ability to offer workout sets in the cutest colors like, ever. All of their products are ethically made, and they even recently launched swimwear!

3

Celeb Favorite

Bon Bon Whims

Price Range: $$

Have you spent hours scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram trying to find where all of the coolest influencers buy their funky, colorful jewelry? Meet Bon Bon Whims. Started by AAPI founder Clare Ngai, the brand does everything from stretchy pearl rings to custom creations for Ariana Grande and Kylie Jenner. Trust me — you’ll want to wear these nostalgic statement pieces every single day.

4

Asian American Girl Club

Price Range: $$

Size Range: XS – 3XL

Say it loud and proud! Asian American Girl Club is an apparel company that, according to founder Ally Maki, set out “to celebrate, unify, and lead towards the normalization of Asian American women.” You can proudly display your heritage with their logo hoodies and pullovers. Even Mindy Kaling got in on the action!

There’s truly a place for all of us out there, and Asian American Girl Club exists to show AAPI girls and guys that they’re strong, multi-faceted, and never alone.

Gabbi Ruched Hobo Handbag

Price Range: $$

JW Pei was founded by husband and wife duo Steph Li and Yang Pei back in 2017, and since then, their bags have been spotted on the arms of models and fashion influencers alike. The brand boasts high-end designs without the $$$$ price tag and uses vegan and recycled materials to make its bags. 😍

Price Range: $$

Size Range: 30AA – 40B

Jaclyn Fu and Lia Winograd started Pepper out of a need for bras designed for small boobs (read: no gaping, cups that fit properly, no loose bands). Pepper bras are specifically made to be comfortable, flattering, AND well-fitting for AA to B cup chests.

The brand’s website boasts thousands of positive reviewers. One customer raved, “I’ve never known what it feels like to have a bra that actually fits until I got this bra.”

Price Range: $

Size Range: XXS – XXL

Love, Bonito is a Southeast Asian brand that sells clean, tailored basics for building a flattering wardrobe on a budget. The brand is partnering with Chriselle Lim and helping to destigmatize mental health in the AAPI community by working with the Asian Mental Health Project, a nonprofit that makes mental health resources more accessible for everyone.

8

Best Gift Idea

Find Me Now

Price Range: $$$

Whether you’re first-, second-, third-, or fourth-generation Asian American, it’s something to be proud of. Wear it close to your heart with this Find Me Now x Notte necklace, a collaboration between AAPI founders Su Paek, Stephanie Callahan, and Jessica Tse. The jewelry would be a wonderful thank you gift for family members who might’ve immigrated to the country years ago, or for your AAPI friends who want to proudly display their Asian American heritage.

Price Range: $$$

Size Range: XS – 2XL

Karen Lee and Tanya Lee started LEZÉ The Label with the intention to upcycle materials to create innovative fabrics. Many companies have used plastic bottles to make fabric, but Karen and Tanya have pushed the boundaries by exploring materials made from coffee, beech trees, and recycled fishing nets. Karen speaks to their frugality, saying that “our parents, along with other immigrant parents, were OG’s at recycling before it was trendy.”

Price Range: $$

South Asian entrepreneur Shilpa Shah co-founded the brand Cuyana in 2011 to encourage buyers to invest in better, higher-quality materials rather than quickly cycling through cheap options. This means that each Cuyana piece is made by artisans who use materials that will stand the test of time, so you don’t have to keep buying and disposing of products. One is enough if it’ll last you forever.

Price Range: $$

The brand loved by Hailey Bieber, Emma Chamberlain, and Kendall Jenner was started by AAPI-founder Julianne Goldmark. Emi Jay began as Julianne’s after-school hobby and bloomed into a full-time business. The brand has collaborated with Juicy Couture and Summer Fridays and has become well-known for products like their “Big Effing Claw Clip” thanks to Bella Hadid and other A-Listers rocking their accessories.

Price Range: $

Size Range: S – XL

Apricotton was started by two young Chinese female founders (Chloe Beaudoin and Jessica Miao) who wanted to create a bra that grew with you, making it perfect for younger teens. Jessica tells Seventeen that “90% of girls [are] embarrassed to wear their first bra,” and Apricotton normalizes the process with comfy, accessible options like the adjustable Cloud Bra.

Price Range: $$

Size Range: S – L

Fanny Kong started At The Venue as an incubator for new, sustainable brands looking to get started in the fashion industry. They just opened up an NYC store, so if you’re based in or visiting The Big Apple, stop by their shop to browse all of the incredible brands that At The Venue has to offer!

Not in NYC? No worries! Shop their offerings online.

Price Range: $

Size Range: S – XXXL

Wishbone NYC was founded by Margaret Zhou Pattillo, who shares a bit of her story on the shop’s About Us page. Margaret experienced the effects of drug abuse in her personal life at a young age, and she’s now using her platform to make a difference by donating 5% of all revenue from the comfy, street-inspired loungewear to drug prevention non-profits and organizations.

15

Most Innovative

Maison Miru

Pave Lightning Nap Earrings

Price Range: $$

If you think these are just regular earrings, think again! Former engineer Trisha Okubo founded Maison Miru, and all of the brand’s jewelry is designed for style AND function. Their signature Nap Earrings have flat backs, so you can comfortably sleep on your side or wear headphones without earring backs poking into your skin. Can you say innovation?!

Checker Claw in Black/White

Price Range: $

You can never have too many claw clips. Tiffany Chu founded Chunks as a high-quality, plant-based option for hair accessories and we’re living for the print & pattern options! This checkerboard clip is funky but wearable enough that you’ll reach for it every single day. Fair warning: you’ll be fielding a LOT of compliments.

Price Range: $$

Size Range: XS – L

NIA the Brand makes the kind of clothing that’s cute enough for class…and comfy enough just in case you fall asleep at your desk. The AAPI-founded brand was started by Sonia Parvaneh (Get it? SoNIA, NIA the Brand?) and the matching knit sets that they offer are so, so good. You’ll look put-together without even trying.

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