While there have been significant improvements in recent years as it pertains to diversity and inclusion in bridal fashion, it's no secret that more needs to be done—specifically with highlighting and celebrating those within the AAPI community.
“Oftentimes when thinking about diversity, the AAPI community tends to be overlooked or included in a minimal way,” says Brenna Simmons, founder & creative director of nordeen. “Diversity needs to be represented fairly across the board, with those who are Asian American/Pacific Islanders included on an equal level.”
The AAPI community has produced some of the most talented bridal designers in the industry today. From their stories to their unique skill sets, these creators share a commonality through their passion and drive—making some of the most iconic wedding gowns we know and love today. “There is no one way to approach weddings, and bridal fashion does not need to only look a certain way. There should be space, continuously growing space for all of that within the bridal industry as a whole," adds Simmons. "This can be helped by making sure equal opportunity is given whether it’s an AAPI couple, model, designer, or someone who works in another field within the industry.”
So. to acquaint you better with these names, we put together a list of eight Asian American and Pacific Islander designers that you will want to keep on your radar. These creatives—some seasoned pros, some newbies—have produced collections that are sure to awe any bride-to-be.
Vera Wang has dominated the world of bridalwear for generations, becoming one of the most prominent names in the bridal and fashion industry. Wang grew up in New York City as the daughter of Chinese immigrants and began her career in fashion after graduating from college. According to her website, “Vera Wang began a sweeping makeover of the bridal industry in 1990 with the opening of her flagship salon at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Today, the salon continues to showcase collections known for sophisticated drama, feminine detailing, and a modern approach to bridal design.”
The designer has won various prestigious awards for her designs, and she has collaborated with leaders in the fashion industry and beyond. In 1994 she was elected as a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). In 2005, the CFDA selected Wang as the Womenswear Designer of the Year.
The Vera Wang Bride:
How can you define the Vera Wang bride? It’s not so simple, considering Wang’s expansive career has led her to design for just about every type of person. So whether you are looking for an edgier piece that will make a statement or a classic gown that has all the glimmer and elegance one could ask for, the seasoned designer has a dress to check every box on a bride’s list.
New York-based designer, Jenny Yoo has been an innovator in the bridal and bridesmaids industry for two decades. Launching her first bridesmaid collection in November 2002, Yoo's clear vision and motivation has led the way in redefining today’s modern bridal party aesthetics.
In 2006, Yoo launched her premiere namesake bridal collection, priding herself on exquisitely crafted styles for the contemporary woman. In 2016, she then launched Jenny by Jenny Yoo for the more youthful and spirited bride. Defined by her signature style of clean lines and modern cuts, Yoo pays attention to every detail, designing for brides with confident sophistication and effortless style. Luxurious fabrications, delicate embroideries, inventive silhouettes, and textural applique make the details of her collections truly remarkable.
The Jenny Yoo Bride:
If you are looking for a culmination of effortless, modern, and feminine in your dream wedding dress, look no further than Jenny Yoo. The designer works to sculpt and highlight the most beautiful contours of every woman. Yoo also believes that while weddings are a tradition, rules can and need to be modified. Her modern yet elegant designs emphasize her philosophy that one must evolve with the footsteps of today’s changing times.
Tadashi Shoji launched his namesake label in 1982 after noting a lack of options for occasion dressing. Now, almost forty years later, women worldwide continue to seek out Tadashi's eveningwear and bridal collections for their impeccable fit, trademark ease, and modern sense of femininity. Tadashi also designs for all bridal events—from civil ceremonies, rehearsal dinners to elaborate weddings, the designer does it all.
Shoji's designs are often spotted on red carpets, and he has become a favorite of celebrities from Kim Kardashian to Taylor Swift.
The Tadashi Shoji Bride:
Tadashi Shoji designs for brides in all different shapes and sizes. The Shoji bride finds a sense of ease and comfort in the dresses. ”With a range of styles and exquisite craftsmanship, Tadashi Shoji inspires real women, on their most memorable occasions, to feel confident in what they are wearing and comfortable in their own skin– in a word, beautiful,” states Shoji’s website.
Located and handcrafted in Honolulu, Miyuki Liem Bridal creates bespoke wedding gowns for brides. “Miyuki Liem is a brand that is dedicated to a bride who isn’t afraid to be different and feels very special on their wedding day,” shares Miyuki Bridgewater, creator and designer of the brand. “They have their own style and look that they want to achieve.”
The Miyuki Liem Bride:
The Miyuki Liem bride is for the bride who wants a one-of-a-kind dress you wouldn’t see off the rack. Bridgewater works one-on-one with her clients to design the gown of their dreams. “We try to help [brides] achieve that look by offering a highly personalized one-on-one custom design/couture service, alongside with our bespoke collection,” the designer tells Brides. “Every piece will be one of kind and unique so only our bride will have it.”
JINZA is founded and owned by two women first-generation immigrants. Specifically, head designer Jinza Jin spent her career at the forefront of fashion, and began a sweeping takeover of the bridal industry at just 19 years old. In the 1980s, she was one of the few talented students sent to Japan to study fabric and pattern design, before immigrating to the United States to begin designing evening gowns, prom dresses, bridal dresses, and bridal party looks. In 2002, her enthusiasm for couture bridalwear resulted in the launch of her highly acclaimed salon and adjacent production atelier, located in a charming Victorian building in San Francisco.
Grace Pei, the brand’s LA Boutique owner and co-designer, joined Jin in 2012 as an apprentice and has since opened JINZA's second store, in addition to launching the brand's Elvet Collection.
The JINZA Bride:
When asked who the ‘JINZA bride’ is, the duo share that they design for the independent and passionate bride. "Brides who have a passion for their profession, have love for their family and friends; who have independence and have a heart of dignity; who have the freedom from other people’s opinions; who respect different cultures and have a heart of perseverance and grace,” they explain. While the brand strives to cater to each bride’s personal taste, they see the importance of tradition and family heritage in their designs. “To us, this is not just a dress, but sharing lifetime memories with you and your family heritage. We are hoping one day, your daughter will get inspired by your wedding dress and create something her own too.”
Brenna Simmons created nordeen with a mission to create environmentally conscious bridalwear inspired by nature. “As a bi-racial Asian American, I grew up unsure of how to connect to my mixed identity. Despite my uncertainty, there are two things I have always known since the age of 12—that I would create my own brand and the name of that brand would be nordeen,” Simmons explains. The name ‘nordeen’ comes from the surname of her great-grandfather, Robert S. Nordeen. “As the history behind the name represents a creative side of my heritage, I wish to take this heirloom and breathe life back into it,” she adds.
Additionally, the idea for the brand was sparked during Simmons’s elopement to her wife. “With adventure elopements gaining popularity within national parks and public lands, I felt something was missing from the market—attire that would harmonize with, and at the same time, respect the surrounding landscapes.”
The nordeen Bride:
Influenced by nature, the nordeen bride radiates effortless beauty. Simmons’s pieces are “designed to be cherished,” as said on the brand’s website. “Looking back, nordeen is the culmination of my being and everything I stand for,” she tells Brides. "As the brand comes into fruition, I suddenly hold in my hands a union of where I started and what I presently hold dear—a bridal collection inspired by nature and, with each piece, a desire to preserve its beauty."
Jenn Qiao and Vivian Chan are the powerhouse duo behind the bridal brand, East Meets Dress. The brand was inspired by co-founder Qiao’s wedding experiences. As a Chinese-American, she wanted to honor her culture by hosting a wedding tea ceremony where the bride typically wears a traditional dress known as the “cheongsam” or “qipao”. However, finding a high-quality and modern cheongsam that allowed her to represent her culture in style was harder than finding her white wedding dress.
Thus, the idea for East Meets Dress was born. Fascinated with modern cheongsam designs, Qiao started working with local dressmakers to learn about different types of fabrics, styles, and the art of cheongsam making. Their pieces are created in-house by their team and are inspired by a blend of Western and Eastern silhouettes and styles—all while retaining iconic elements of the traditional qipao dress such as the pankou knots and mandarin collar.
The East Meets Dress Bride:
“The East Meets Dress bride comes from all over the world. She’s empowered, proud of her heritage, and wants to celebrate her culture in her own unique way,” Qiao shares. “We believe in designing for real brides of all sizes. While traditional cheongsam dresses often cater to a specific body type, our modern cheongsam dresses offer a variety of silhouettes and styles that flatter brides of all shapes and sizes.”
Andrew Kwon is a Korean-American fashion designer in NYC. He graduated from Parsons in 2019, and established his namesake brand, Andrew Kwon in 2020. “I have focused on eveningwear, but because of the pandemic I pivoted and launched my first bridal collection, Collection 1 - reminiscence this February/April at NYFW with the CFDA, showing after Ines di Santo and before Marchesa,” the designer tells Brides.
In addition to all his recent success, he had his second-ever trunk show with Neiman Marcus at their flagship location in Dallas the summer of 2021. “The trunk show led to the exciting news of my collection becoming available to shop ongoing with their bridal salon,” Kwon adds.
The Andrew Kwon Bride:
Kwon explains that his designs are for women all over the world. “It’s the woman who has dreamt of a fantasy-like moment on her special day whether that’s her walk down the aisle or her walk along the flashed-filled red carpet. I want my brides to imagine their walk down the aisle as their walk down the red carpet. My bride is a woman who isn’t afraid to play dress up and be different,” says Kwon. “I hope the Andrew Kwon bride is every woman, but essentially she’s someone who isn't afraid to go outside the norms of traditional bridal and wear something different from her friends. She’s a woman who is ready and excited to make an entrance whether it’s modernly-chic or modernly-elegant.”