Until recently, the identity of Mr. Wang as a Chinese American rarely mentioned. He ignored attempts by reporters and critics to connect his designs with his identity as a child of Taiwanese immigrants, even though he was often compared to Asian-American peers like Phillip Lim and Prabal Gurung, who have long described their ethnic background as a relevant to their design choices.
Yet the background of Mr. Wang well documented. His parents are first-generation immigrants and ran a successful manufacturing company in San Francisco. His friends, along with his clientele, included “It” girls, models, former boarding school kids, and the ethnically diverse, largely gay community of revelers whose clothes were intended to express the simple fact that they were out last night.
Mr. Wang’s laser focus paid off. Sales reached more than $100 million at one point, according to Business of Fashion.
But the brand began to lose relevance soon after. In 2019, Mr. Wang to rebrand for the label with a new logo and a commitment to tell his American story through the lens of a first-generation immigrant, inspired by what his parents had only recently told him about what it was like to live in the 1970s. to come to America.
“I had never asked them before,” Mr. Wang, who was 35 at the time, told DailyExpertNews in 2018.
But among Asian-American attendees, many attributed the late-blooming awareness to more personal reasons: “There were a lot of people in our community who didn’t want to associate themselves too much with the Asian experience,” said May Lee, 56. several local AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) organizations and attended the event to show support for Asian-American designers. “Don’t make noise, don’t make waves, fit in.”
“I don’t want to blame Alexander Wang, but I think he is an example of that type of Asian who goes through that kind of experience,” she continued. “I say better late than never.”