After decades of mainstream models gracing the catwalks, appearing on TV commercials and dazzling the front pages of top fashion magazines, today was a day of triumph for Asian models. Appearing on page 3 of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper was the article aricle: “Asian models change fashion of fashion”. Rarely, does a feature appear in the Australian media about the achievements of talents from Asian heritage, which was why this article caught my attention and compelled me to talk about it in my blog post.
Today, we are seeing a strong emergence of an entourage of fashion models from Asian descent, making headways to a new movement in the fashion industry, notably from China, Japan and Korea, countries housing some of the world’s revolutionary designers. While these model’s names may not yet known by every household, they are however, sharing the runways of international designers and highly paid campaigns alongside other top models.
Liu Wen, is model of Chinese descent, and has appeared in the covers of Vogue and Harpers Bazaar (China), walked for Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier (Paris, France), and is now signed as the new face of Eastee Lauder making her the 10th most highest earning model across the globe. In the example of Asian male models, Godfrey Tsao, the actor-model from Taiwan, he has become the first Asian male model to be contracted by Louis Vuitton for their menswear campaign.
With the major shifts in the global economy, the rising appearance of Asian models may not be a bypassing trend. Perhaps, it is just the beginning of a new fashion revolution as demands for high ends products increase across Asia. Both Gucci and Louis Vuitton have had exponential growth in Asia over the past 5 years. To date, Gucci now has 25 boutique stores in 16 cities in Asia and Louis Vuitton now has over 20 boutiques in China. As there is more and more market demand, who would the majority of the populations across Asian countries would want to relate to? Who would be the faces of these products? The answer to these we are yet to see.
The countries of Asia may are not the only ones with examples of increase of Asian modelling visibility. The rest of the world is starting to touch upon this phenomenon. In Toronto’s Fashion Week, the catwalks of designers David Dixon and Sonny Fong (from Project Runway Canada) include female models who represent people that all women related to. Fong expressed that after his experience on Project Runway that he noticed that his fans were made up of women of different ages, ethnicities and sizes, and that inspired him to build collections based on the majority of the demand who could see themselves fitting in his clothes.
Dixon, in his Hanging Garden of Babylon collection, he featured models from diverse backgrounds of Asian, Indian and African heritage. According to Dixon, it wasn’t consciously about being politically correct, but realising women do not come in one mould. As a businessman, Dixon acknowledges the feedback he has received from women. He has understood that they are the ones who are buying his clothes so it is wise to show them models that they can easily relate to and see themselves in his garments.
Celebration is due for the victories of models from diverse backgrounds, but there is still much more ground to be gained. However, the examples mentioned in this blog post show that across the fashion industry from models, designers and major fashion houses is a glimmer of what could possibly be a positive future in the visibility of Asian and other diverse models. Perhaps, the world is slowly, but progressively, preparing itself to accept that it is full of people that possess many forms of beauty.