NEW YORK -- Fashion designer Ashlyn So spent her entire summer transforming unconventional materials into wearable activism culminating in her New York Fashion Week collection, "Beneath the Surface."
"There's this term called 'artivism' that's coming out now in the activism community, it's bridging art and activism," explained model and founder of Youth Advocates for Change Tiana Day. "Ashlyn is the role model piece for that."
With zip ties, plastic balls, and blue and white fabrics forming optical illusions, So's third fashion week appearance creatively propels change by honoring the 'Stop Asian Hate' movement.
"People see us as really quiet, you know, it's like an easy target," expressed So. "But, there's so much more deep down, which is kind of what 'Beneath the Surface' is symbolizing."
So's purposeful designs speak loudly with cultural themes represented throughout, starting with the color scheme.
"Porcelain is really a big part of Chinese and Japanese culture and Asian culture in general," So explained. "All the colors are inspired by porcelain, like the blue and white."
Most prominently, each handmade design features repeating materials that represent the strength of the AAPI community, inspiring hope and solidarity.
"When someone goes low, you know, you go high, and that's what I wanted to create with these zip ties because they're kind of going up," described So. "It's symbolizing how we're using love over hate."
"I also used some of the foam to create a better structure for the pieces," continued So. "It represents how we're building this platform so that the next generation won't face all these issues, and we'll create a better world for them."
With youth activists and allies modeling her designs, Ashlyn spreads a message of unity powered by the next generation.
"I think the goal of her collection is to bring people together," said Ashlyn's mother, Angela Wu. "Getting to know each other and our history and our background really helps people unite."
"When I was younger, I barely saw any Asian representation," recalled model and activist Bella Galera. "Seeing such a young person today stand up for our community is so amazing, and I feel so empowered."
Ashlyn is bringing her New York Fashion week collection back to the Bay for all to see at the annual Moon Fest Night Market in San Jose this Friday, September 24th from 5pm-9pm. The show will raise money for personal safety alarms for AAPI seniors. Visit here to learn more about the event.
For more information about Ashlyn So, visit here.
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Teen designer and activist creates fashion collection inspired by 'Stop Asian Hate' movement