Oct 212012

The hottest names in fashion belong to Asian-American men, who won CFDA honors just two years ago. Designers Richard Chai and Jason Wu talk about their journey to the epicenter of style. Elly Park reports.

They’re young, hot and Asian. Just two years ago fashion designers Alexander Wang, Jason Wu and Richard Chai were honored with CFDA awards — the Oscars of fashion. The recognition signaled a shift in the American fashion industry. Mickey Boardman of Paper Magazine explains. SOUNDBITE: Mickey Boardman, Editorial Director of Paper Magazine, saying (English) “Those three are the ones that are the big new names that are the new Michael Kors, the new Marc Jacobs, the new Calvin Kleins.” Twenty-nine-year-old Wu shot to fame in 2009 as the world saw U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama dance in his dreamy white gown at the inaugural ball. Earlier this year, the Taiwanese-American put together an entire collection exploring his Chinese heritage. Chai, a New York native, says he had the blessings of his Korean parents to tackle the tough fashion industry while his siblings pursued more stable careers. SOUNDBITE: Richard Chai, Korean-American fashion designer, saying (English) “I didn’t want to also fail or disappoint them, and I think that is very Asian. And I think that’s one part of — something that’s so Korean about me. In that way you don’t want to disappoint your parents you work really hard at what you do.” And the hard work didn’t go unnoticed. All three designers were championed early on by Vogue’s Anna Wintour. And now they hope to inspire others. SOUNDBITE: Jason Wu, Taiwanese-American fashion designer, saying (English) “I can only hope that I am a good role model. I had to pave my own way but am happy that people appreciate my work and that there are young people with hopes and dreams and lots of talents that’s going to have an opportunity in New York.” Opportunities on the New York runways, that are now a bit more colorful.

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