It’s no secret that independent businesses, designers included, have been hit hard during the pandemic. For brands, factory closures have meant delayed production; canceled wholesale orders have created additional financial strain, and trends shown during fashion weeks earlier this year may no longer be relevant. The consensus among many was that the fashion system was flawed and needed reevaluation.
For brands that could create during this time, one question moving forward was: What will women buy? Tailoring has proven to be a resilient trend for fall, name-checked by retailers reconsidering their fall buys as investment pieces that are classic, versatile and empowering.
Among some of New York’s emerging Asian designers, it was given a variety of treatments ranging from cool to conceptual or alluring with hints of skin — and all easy to wear — making a case for tailoring now even as loungewear has taken over quarantine dress. The designers had ideological parallels regarding the future of the industry, too, including conscious consumption and thoughtful design.
Accompanying a shoot put together by an all-Asian team, four emerging Asian designers sound off on what’s next for fashion and why tailoring is here to stay.
Sue Jung, Common Odds
Sue Jung has crafted Common Odds on a foundation of contrasts, most notably with women’s tailoring inspired by men’s wear, allowing many items to be gender-ambiguous. Her vegan leather suiting, shown here, is but one example of the type of versatile and practical wardrobe enhancers she’s producing for fall to elevate quarantine attire.
After taking a long, hard look at the brand ethos and what customers value in fashion consumption, the brand is shifting its focus to direct-to-consumer.
“People will probably shop less but consciously,” she said, adding: “If the pandemic has made us consider a more thoughtful approach to consumption, we believe people still want to have a valuable piece that is beautiful and at the same time can last longer in their wardrobe.
“I hope this unprecedented situation will give people in the industry some moments and reminders to reevaluate themselves to evolve into more thoughtful and sustainable businesses rather than big players with opportunities to consolidate more.”
Danica Zheng, Danz
As a new brand that made its debut during February’s New York Fashion Week, the pandemic and resulting factory closures made it impossible for Danica Zheng to move forward with fall production. Some items, like the polyester and elastane top and shorts here, will be produced for September delivery as a result of moving production overseas to factories that reopened early, while the rest of the fall lineup will be delayed to a February release. As a seasonless brand, the tailoring options are made to last and serve as empowering investment pieces through these uncertain times.
“I think the lockdown has forced our industry to finally take a moment to address some long overdue problems,” she said. “I think we have been working within an extremely traditional and rather outdated system, and I’m hoping that the lockdown will help the younger brands, including ourselves, to find our voices to challenge for a healthier ecosystem within fashion.”
With the opportunity to reflect on business objectives, Zheng plans to place heavier emphasis on incorporating technology into design, to facilitate more storytelling through clothing, and become a more sustainable and transparent company.
Ashlynn Park, Ashlyn New York
With factories abroad and a home studio setup, Ashlynn Park was fortunate enough to finish fall production on time and start development on a spring 2021 collection.
Her brand features unexpected touches of romance — as in the back bow adorning the otherwise masculine wool blazer shown here with triacetate and polyester pants — that resonate with women of any age. Park thinks because loungewear has been trending during lockdown, customers will be eager to wear special pieces. She added: “I want to create garments that last longer and that will live in your closet for years. This led me to wanting to continuously create distinctive, comfortable and lasting garments.
“My hope is that we are learning a lesson at this time by reconsidering our lifestyle and transitioning toward sustainability. We should have more consideration and responsibility for our consumption.” Moving forward, Park will be more transparent about how garments are made for customers who have become more conscious with their spending.
Wei Ge and Aoyu Zhang, Keh
Wei Ge and Aoyu Zhang took lockdown as a means to expand their traditional operations, optimizing online channels like social media to communicate with clients and virtual showrooms for online retailers, while expanding existing retail partnerships by creating exclusive looks. Though factories were closed and the production schedule for fall was greatly shortened, they managed to meet fall delivery deadlines.
The designers made an impressive debut during New York Fashion Week in February with a collection brimming with tailoring and men’s-inspired looks. They believe customers will still look for playfulness and comfort in pieces that are easy to style, mix and match into existing wardrobes once the collection becomes available. “Our sharp, geometric cut and material selection offer a good balance of masculinity and femininity, which we believe serves shoppers’ needs,” they said. The polyester, rayon and spandex blend bodysuit and trousers shown here exemplify boundary-pushing tailoring that stays grounded with utilitarian function, helping customers express a unique identity without losing the practicality and ease of clothes.
They’ve found a silver lining to lockdown through the connection they have with their team. “The more isolated we are physically, the more we desire to connect with others in a deeper and more meaningful way. And that connection is extremely powerful.”