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As part of Phillip Lim’s ongoing efforts to amplify the talents of the AAPI creative community, he is showcasing the work of artists and designers.

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, which is next month, and NYCxDesign Week, the New York-based designer will showcase the work of Asian American creatives in “Crafting Selfhood,” a special exhibition in his Great Jones Street store.

The show, which features creations by female international artists, is being organized by cultural producer and creative strategist Karen Wong and designer, curator and advocate Lora Appleton. Wong is the former deputy director of the New Museum and cofounder of Ideas City, a platform that explores how art and culture are essential to the future of cities. Appleton is founder of the Kinder Modern gallery and the Female Design Council, an organization that supports women in the field of design. Appleton is also the principal designer at her in-house design studio Studiokinder, which makes furniture, objects and rugs.

Lim will host a private opening night party in the downtown 3.1 Phillip Lim flagship on April 30. The full roster of featured artists and designers include Janny Baek, Julia Chiang, Cecile Chong, Phaan Howng, Antonia Kuo, Lena Imamura, Myung Jin Kim, Linda Sormin, Eny Lee Parker, Steffany Tran, Eunji Jun and Halin Lee. Some of the touchstones will be Kim’s terracotta vessels, which are meant to reference her passion for gardens, and Baek’s porcelain creature figures, which are inspired by alien beauty.

Julia Chiang

Julia Chiang’s work will be featured in the show.

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The exhibition takes inspiration from 3.1 Phillip Lim’s new handbag collection, fittingly called the “ID.” To draw attention to the “ID,” Lim enlisted Andrés Jana to shoot a spring campaign in the 3.1 Phillip Lim store with the theme naturally centered on identity. The ID bag’s hardware is modeled after Lim’s vintage, heavy gold ID bracelets that he always wears as well as an Anish Kapoor sculpture.

In an interview, the company’s chief executive officer Wen Zhou, said the plan to work with artists who are creating objects such as ceramics and sculpture was clear. Some of the artists have been on curators Wong’s and Appleton’s radar for a while and others like Chiang and Parker are friends of hers and Lim’s. The process has been “a lot of fun” as well as informative in terms of learning more about the artists through research and their bios, Zhou said.

So much so that the CEO can’t wait to include some of their works in her own collection. Although the initial plan was to only highlight the work, efforts are being made to help sell the artists’ work. Several art collectors, as well as the brand’s friends, supporters and customers, will be invited to view the artwork. Many of the featured artists are based in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but others work from Los Angeles and South Korea. The idea is to introduce the artists’ work and to bring fashion, creativity, sculptures and artists together, Zhou said. “There’s a lot of excitement. From the very few conversations that we have had, some of the work has already been spoken for so we are super pumped.”

During the month of May, there will be select images of the work or exhibition on Lim’s landing page but all of the transactions will happen in-person. Asked if there is a greater appreciation for the AAPI community compared to a year ago, Zhou said, “I definitely think we’re making strides through some industries like entertainment, especially movies. That really is so helpful, and I am so grateful. It is really about time that my kids are seeing themselves normalized in films and TV,” Zhou said.

However, the tide is moving a bit slower in the arts and fashion world, she added. “That’s one of the reasons why Phillip and I have made moving the needle and being a platform for the creatives of the AAPI community, as part of our brand’s mission. We want to help, support and use our already established platform for the change that we want to see.”

Beak

Janny Baek’s “Blended Party.”

Photo Courtesy

Acknowledging how the pace of change does not seem comparable to the contributions that numerous AAPI designers have made to the fashion industry, Zhou said, “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done there. While Phillip’s and my work in the advanced contemporary market started 20 years ago and has helped to create this new segment, I still think the AAPI designer in fashion and in art has not been consistently talked about, written about or promoted,” Zhou said. “There are so many variables. We are slowly seeing the changes but the work is not done.

Myung Jin Kim’s

A piece by Myung Jin Kim.

Photo Courtesy

“We are not just AAPI designers,” Zhou added. “We should be looked at as designers rather than be promoted [only] during AAPI [Heritage] Month. We should be promoted at all times whether that is for press or media opportunities. It’s also about consumers voting for our products by buying and wearing AAPI designers’ pieces. It would also be very helpful if celebrities including those in the film industry seek out AAPI designers to wear as a sign of support.”

There has been a major shift in awareness, especially post-pandemic where representation is being looked at differently than it had been in the past, according to Zhou. “Perhaps, like Phillip says, people have been activated and know that their voices, actions and support have been amplified. I definitely have seen many of our supporters in the Black and BIPOC community show up. I definitely have seen a positive change. Would I say the change is overwhelming or fast-moving? That is not necessarily the case.”



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