4 Independent Designers in Asia to Check Out

Singapore-based online boutique Coco Takumi (cocotakumi.com) offers a curated selection of fashion and accessories from independent designers across the world, with an emphasis on quality craftsmanship and individualism. Here, one of the company’s three co-founders, Alia Sahari, highlights four of the 19 brands with whom they work.

Alia Sahari of Coco Takumi.

1. Ailanto

A print-centric womenswear label based in Barcelona, Ailanto is the brainchild of twin Spanish brothers Iñaki and Aitor Muñoz, both of whom trained in fine arts and fashion design. Their creative flair is translated into designs that are strong on beautiful prints inspired by nature and art, such as the Monet-style water lilies that accent a pure silk evening caftan. The brothers’ work has been exhibited in museums throughout the world, including the Guggenheim in their native Bilbao, while their collections have been sold internationally since 1999, with acclaimed catwalk presentations at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid. Beautifully patterned textiles and modern silhouettes mark their latest collection with inimitable style.

Photo: Ailanto

2. Cote and Badt

Established by two Spanish friends who have been living in Asia for more than a decade, Cote and Badt offers an exclusive range of handmade, top-quality espadrilles from two renowned Spanish ateliers: Casa Hernanz, a 170-year-old family business employing fifth-generation artisans; and Giamo, whose footwear exhibits a more modern sensibility (I love the embroidered toe strap on the Susan D espadrille pictured here). Combining casual elegance with all-day comfort, these are my go-to shoes for a weekend out or for parties.

Photo: Cote and Badt

3. Niin

Having worked in corporate social responsibility before embarking on Coco Takumi, I am drawn to labels that champion social causes, and niin’s environmental and ethical practices resonate with me. Hong Kong–based founder Jeanine Hsu, who graduated from Central Saint Martin’s and honed her craft with renowned labels like Vivienne Westwood, works with small artisanal businesses across Southeast Asia to design stunning jewelry and accessories backed by ethical practices and a light environmental footprint.

Photo: Niin

4. Amikusa

I was introduced to this Japanese stole label through a mutual connection with its designer, Yoko Yamazaki. The unique crocheted details on the stoles intrigued me, and I loved the material, a super-soft cashmere sourced directly from India’s Kashmir region, which ensures authenticity and quality. With Amikusa, Yoko hopes to raise awareness of the quality of this wool while helping Kashmiri artisans market their products globally and elevate their livelihood. She personally hand-crochets the ends of her stoles to protect them from wear, which also gives them a unique and clean aesthetic.

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Sartorial Files”).

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