Meet the Founders – and Designers – Behind South Asian New York Fashion Week
South Asian design is making its mark on the fashion industry. At New York Fashion Week, we saw a Falguni Shane Peacock collaboration with Law Roach, Naeem Khan’s glamorous beadwork inspired by his Indian background, and Prabal Gurung’s contemporary silhouettes in pastels and metallic tones taking the runway. And that’s just the spring 2024 season. Earlier this year, Dior paid homage to the craftsmanship that the South Asian subcontinent brings to the global fashion community with its fall 2023 show, held in front of the historic Gateway of India. On the red carpet, several celebrities regularly pose in Indian couture, including Cardi B in Gaurav Gupta’s architectural designs and Zendaya wearing her viral sari look by Rahul Mishra. Now, there’s an entire style showcase dedicated to South Asian design at NYFW. Meet South Asian New York Fashion Week (SANYFW), an initiative founded by Hetal Patel and Shipra Sharma, showcasing the original work of South Asian designers and giving up-and-coming brands a platform.
“I want to see more South Asian designers at online retailers or department stores or have their own fashion houses in SoHo or on Fifth Avenue. It’s traditionally known that people of color get less investor dollars and less investments for their ideas, and that’s across every industry, not just fashion.”
As a South Asian woman myself, I take immense pride in seeing South Asian designers and brands get the recognition they deserve. SANYFW delivered all that and more – as I learned sitting front row at the week’s many events, held at iconic locales like the Asia Society and Museum and the Altman Building. Featuring innovative design across the board, SANYFW was filled with South Asian-origin fabrics and textiles made into modern silhouettes or traditional lehengas and saris embellished with intricate embroidery and beadwork.
One of the major goals of SANYFW is to provide representation and visibility for South Asian fashion designers, Sharma told POPSUGAR. “South Asian fashion has been an integral part of the overall fashion community for literally centuries; we were colonized for our fabrics, our jewels, our textiles, and our embroidery were also stolen and used as inspiration for the monarchs in Europe, back in the day,” she explained. “We’ve been around, and we have been pioneers in the fashion industry as a whole. We lost our credit for centuries, but it’s time to really take back that narrative, and it’s important to start educating folks on the origin of their own textiles and their own garments. We really wanted to use this as a platform to educate the global community on what South Asian fashion is and its impact across the world.”
Patel hopes to see more support for South Asian designers from a business perspective, from retailers to investors. “I want to see more just South Asian designers at online retailers or department stores or just have their own fashion houses in SoHo or on Fifth Avenue,” she told POPSUGAR. “It’s traditionally known that people of color get less investor dollars and less investments for their ideas, and that’s across every industry, not just fashion.”
We spoke to Patel and Sharma about their journey creating the SANYFW event and their vision for the future. Keep reading for our interview, and scroll further down to learn more about the designers featured for the spring 2024 season.