The very first Asian-American fashion designers were pioneers such as Anna Sui, Vivienne Tam, Vera Wang and Kimora Lee Simmons — women who launched their labels in a market dominated by Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs.
Their achievements have also helped Asian parents accept that fashion design can be a replicable pathway to success.
Asian-American representation in the broader glamour industry — not only on the red carpets and in fashion shows but also in film and television — has been slow to come.
Finally, there’s also a less tangible factor, which is that the last half century of these designers’ work (as well as that of Japanese designers such as Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe and Issey Miyake) has aligned designers of Asian descent with the avant-garde.
Yet when you ask Gurung why there are so many Asian-American designers, he replies, “Are there, really?” There is always, he was pointedly saying, room for more.