One To Watch: Commission

Shining a spotlight on the New York-based brand founded by three Asian-American pals

What does it mean to be American? The question is huge yet as the nation witnesses profound cultural shifts, the enquiry into identity resonates far and wide. Three Asian American designers, Dylan Cao, and Huy Luong born in Vietnam and Jin Kay, raised in Korea muse on identity in a delightfully fresh and knowing way resulting in piquant collections that carry echoes of eras, family members and personal style quirks.

Working from a studio space in the Garment District, the trio who all trained at Parsons School of Design and met at a friend’s birthday party, have developed a brilliantly nuanced style vocabulary since starting up their label in 2018 with an aim of capturing the Asian American experience.

They bring to the table intimate memories, acute observations and anecdotes often inspired by their own mothers, family photo albums and pop culture archives. How women dressed for office life, for celebrations and those milestone moments in life in the 1980s and 1990s is one starting point. Back then, fashionable women receiving their style news via European magazines and MTV, would have garments replicated by local seamstresses and often in the shiny, synthetic fabrics available. And it is the variations and sometimes lost in translations that fuel the impeccably detailed clothes with bold, joyous prints, slender silhouettes, and stylistic hyperrealism.

Metallic silver dress

@commission_official // Instagram

Cut-out shirt

@commission_official // Instagram

"I think it’s a fun challenge for non-American designers to explore American classics.”

Dylan Cao

The AW22 collection entitled Fast Riders, Slow Dancers is a salute to their adopted nation “America is a mashup in itself of so many cultures,” says Cao reflecting on the patchwork of people and histories that make up the diverse, impossible to bottle nation. Western influences such as star prints, trophy buckles and denim mash-up with 90s Ivy League sportswear in blouson topped sporty tracksuits, corporate uniform in the shape of herringbone tailoring and blue collar wear recalibrated as crisp shirting with strategic under breast cut outs. “I think it’s a fun challenge for non-American designers to explore American classics,” adds Cao.

The line is nostalgic, good humoured and future facing playing with the sheen of recycled polyester; vibrant floral prints, and lace trimmed skirts.  The trio shine a spotlight on a history that is not often romanticized and bring Asian women to the centre stage with a photographic portrait series, Commission Femmes. “We’re using fashion as a platform, not only to sell clothes, but also to build a community,” Luong says.

Green satin dress

@commission_official // Instagram


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