Since the 1990’s, young Asian Americans including Doo-Ri Chung, Derek Lam, Thakoon Panichgul, Alexander Wang, and Jason Wu have emerged as leading fashion designers. They have won prestigious awards, been chosen to head major clothing labels, and had their designs featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other fashion magazines. At the same time that these designers were rising to prominence, the fashion world was embracing “Asian chic.” During the 1990’s, “Asian” shapes, fabrics, iconography, and colors filled couture runways and mass-market clothing racks.
In The Beautiful Generation (Fall 2010, Duke University Press), author Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu explores the role of Asian American designers in New York’s fashion industry, paying particular attention to how they relate to the garment workers who produce their goods and to Asianness as a fashionable commodity. The Beautiful Generation links the rise of Asian American designers to historical patterns of immigration, racial formation, and globalized labor, and to familial and family-like connections between designers and sewers.
Thuy Linh Tu will be in conversation with scholar Kandice Chuh, Professor of English at The Graduate Center at The City University of New York.