Asai Plots Comeback With First Collection in Four Years

The London-based fashion designer A Sai Ta hasn’t shown his collection since February 2019. Now he’s ready to invite the world back into his creative universe with a show set for Monday.

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The designer said he’s finally ready after spending time “reflecting and questioning my place in the industry, and my purpose.”

“I realized this is the space where my ideas belong. I paused showing, but I’ve been active. I’ve been focusing on exhibitions, exploring collaborations, and rethinking my approach to sustainability and production. Importantly, I’ve been grounding myself,” the designer said.

The Central Saint Martins alum burst onto the scene during London Fashion Week in 2017 via Lulu Kennedy’s emerging talent showcase, Fashion East. He showed promise in the way he worked with textiles and proportions and used rich cultural references rooted in his Chinese and Vietnamese heritage.

Some of his signature offerings included skin-tight tie-dye pieces, yin and yang shoulder bags, and a clutch inspired by nunchucks, a martial arts training weapon.

The designer was recognized by the Fashion Awards for advocating for social change in 2020, and was later shortlisted as one of the finalists for the BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2021 and received funding from the British Fashion Council’s grant-giving program Newgen. The fall 2023 season will be his last one with Newgen.

A Look from Asai's fall 2017 collection
A Look from Asai’s fall 2017 collection.

After his solo debut show, the designer traveled to China and worked with the Chinese fashion brand Broadcast to gain production experience. But with COVID-19, the collaboration ended and he returned to London.

The designer said the pandemic helped him to “pause, recharge and be present.”

“Design is a manifestation of emotion, and I need to create from a place of love, not out of pain. I want to build the brand and create space for expression, representation, and collaboration with the people it aims to serve. Everything has been a learning experience. I’ve been overwhelmed by so much generosity and support. Now that I’m designing again in London, I’m reminded of the culture, people, and place that motivated me from early on,” he said.

He said he’s grateful for his community and his team, who supported him throughout the pandemic, and the upheavals in business.

“Their commitment and the response from supporters within the industry have allowed me to take the time to develop this brand at my own pace, which is rare in our industry. It’s giving me the strength to follow my instinct. I want to keep going,” he said.

For fall 2023, Asai said he is focusing on the experience of the person wearing the garment.

“Barbara Kruger once said, ‘the body is a battleground’, and as the starting point for this collection, I wanted to create clothes that provide a stronger sense of protection,” he said.

Models wearing Asai on the cover of Le Monde magazine
Models wearing Asai on the cover of Le Monde magazine.

Asked if he is open to investment opportunities to scale the brand, Asai said many people have “invested in my dreams and vision beyond the finances, which has given me so much confidence.”

He added: “Creative growth is essential for me. Designers should empower the wearer through every thread they sew. I’m not against being backed to grow and scale. Reaching a wider audience has benefits — but I’m in no rush. I always want to maintain sight of the brand’s DNA.”

While preparing for the show, the designer has also been dealing with a hacker who created a fake website under his name, and spread scam messages on Instagram. The designer does not appear to be too bothered by it, though.

“I sought legal action for that matter. But, honestly, I took it as a compliment. It’s ironic. My brand has explored popular cultural symbols from Britain and Asian cultures. Responding to notions of appropriation is part of my thought process in some ways. Ultimately, I see the imposter online as a sign of creativity,” he said.

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