For many of this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia: The Arts list honorees, style and sustainability go hand in hand. Some have even seen opportunity in building businesses catering to environmentally conscious Gen-Z consumers.
Best friends Evangeline Titilas and Samantha Lorking-Tanner cofounded fashion label With Jéan in 2017. Sold exclusively online and shipped globally in biodegradable packaging, With Jéan was born after the duo were inspired to build a fashion brand committed to ethical and sustainable production, initially investing A$3,000 ($2,200) each.
The label doesn’t follow a typical fashion calendar, launching six to seven drops comprising 10 to 15 pieces per year, thereby minimizing wastage by not overproducing.
With Jéan’s youthful apparels also enjoy a cult following among 456,000 Instagramers and its new styles often sell out in minutes. Seen on celebrities including Bella Hadid, Jenna Dewan and Emily Ratajkowski, its designs have been featured in fashion publications including Vogue and Hyperbae.
In 2021, Titilas and Lorking-Tanner say they raised A$69,600 in 48 hours for the Red Cross Australian Bushfire Relief, and donated 10 trees for every T-shirt sold in a special Earth Day collection in April 2022. With Jéan is currently working on global expansion, looking at distribution from the U.S.–where a big portion of its sales come from–and growing its category repertoire.
Another listee incorporating sustainability in her practice is 25-year-old Grace Ling. Launched in 2020, Grace Ling’s eponymous label combines 3D technology, CAD software and CGI to produce high fashion pieces with zero waste. The New York-based Singaporean studied at Parsons School of Design and has been featured in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
Celebrities are also noticing her brand’s unique style. In 2022, Jennifer Lopez wore one of Ling’s creations in a shoot for The New York Times, followed by another in her live performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Model Karlie Kloss, YouTuber Emma Chamberlain and actress Paige Desorbo have also been spotted wearing GRACE LING.
Like Ling, other up-and-coming designers on this year’s list are being noticed globally–thanks to celebrity endorsements and viral social media moments.
Shanghai-based designer Zhou Rui won the 2021 LVMH Prize–becoming the first designer from China to receive the prestigious award–with her genderless clothing label Rui. Founded in 2019, the brand reflects Zhou’s philosophy that a garment is a second layer of skin that, while being fragile and intimate, also possesses strength. Her quirky bodysuits have been worn by celebrities including British pop star Dua Lipa and South Korean singer and model Hyuna. Zhou is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New York.
In Pakistan, 26-year-old Zain Ahmad cofounded Rastah, a Lahore-based streetwear brand in 2018. The label champions sustainable and artisanal designs, with items being designed, sourced and produced by local artisans in limited quantities in Pakistan. Featured in Vogue, Rastah’s clothes have also been spotted being worn by Bollywood producer Karan Johar, rapper French Montana, and Oscar winning actor Riz Ahmed.
In 2015, sisters Alexandra and Natasha Chipman founded Natasha Schweitzer, a fine jewelry design company inspired by their mother’s dedication to the art. Handcrafted in Australia, their creations are featured in French and Australian Vogue and stocked globally at stores including Net-A-Porter, Nordstrom, Farfetch, Ounass and David Jones. Miranda Kerr, Kylie Jenner, Aimee Song and Cate Blanchett are among celebrities that have worn their jewelry.
Additional reporting by Karsha Green.