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With the blockbuster success of this summer’s Crazy Rich Asians, Hollywood is taking note of the power and influence of Asian and Asian-American faces. The effects are making their way to the fashion and beauty industry too, with more and more milestones for Asian and Asian-American models happening each day. There was the all-Asian issue of Allure in June. There was Claudia Li’s all-Asian runway show at New York Fashion Week in September. There was Kelsey Meritt, the first Filipina model to walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in November.
Though there’s a long way to go before Asian models are offered the same opportunities as their white peers, there’s no doubt that times are changing. To celebrate this new age of Asian representation, we’ve collected 12 Asian models changing the face of fashion. They come from different nationalities and different ethnicities and have different skin tones and body types, but they share one common mission: to improve diversity in fashion.
In 2012, Wen was dubbed by The New York Times “China’s first bona fide supermodel.” Discovered in a modeling contest at 17 years old, Wen, a native of Hunan, China, went on to become the first East Asian model to walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the first East Asian model to become the face of Estée Lauder, the first East Asian model to make Forbes’s annual highest-paid models list and the first Chinese model to appear on the cover of American Vogue. Wen has also modeled for designers such as Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabbana and posed for magazines like GQ and Harper’s Bazaar.
Merritt, a half-Filipina model born in the Philippines, made history in 2018 to become the first Filipina model to walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Meritt, who is signed to Wilhelmina Models, has also modeled for brands such as Palmolive and Kashieca, and in 2016, she was named one of Sports Illustrated’s Rookies of the Year.
Known for her millennial pink hair and sharp features, Ly, a Chinese-Australian, has modeled for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Dior. She was discovered at a mall in Australia at 16 and became one of Louis Vuitton’s muses not too long after, following her pink hair change. Ly was also one of three Asian models to appear on the cover of Allure’s history-making all-Asian issue in June 2018.
In 2011, He made history after she became the first East Asian model to open a Ralph Lauren fashion show. Soon after, she became the second Chinese model to walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, following in Liu Wen’s footsteps. Discovered in a modeling contest at 16, He, a native of Zhejiang, China, has walked for designers including Vivienne Tam, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel and Dior.
Soo Joo Park
Born in South Korea and raised in California, Park is known for her platinum-blonde hair and Chanel campaigns. She was one of three Asian models to appear on the cover of Allure’s all-Asian issue in June 2018 and has also worked with the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Emporio Armani and Fendi. She’s also been the face of brands including MAC Cosmetics and Michael Kors. In 2014, she became the first Asian-American spokesmodel for L’Oreal Paris.
Fei Fei Sun
Sun, a native of Shandong China, started modeling at 19 years old after she won a modeling competing in China and signed with Elite Models. Since then, she’s walked for brands such as Miu Miu, Prada and Valentino and was hand-picked by Karl Lagerfeld to walk in Chanel’s Paris-Shanghai fashion show. In 2013, she became the first East Asian model to appear in a solo cover for Italian Vogue. She was also one of three Asian models to appear on the cover of Allure’s all-Asian issue in June 2018.
Gill, a British model of Indian and Punjab descent, became the first Southeast Asian model to be featured in a Burberry campaign in 2014. Signed to Next Model Management, Gill has also modeled for the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch, Dior and Kanye West’s Yeezy.
Raised in Australia, Shaik, who is part-Pakistani and part-Saudi Arabian, started modeling at 8 years old after she scored a TV commercial for Hyundai. After a break to concentrate on school, Shaik started modeling again as a teenager after she finished in second place in the Australian reality competition, Make Me a Supermodel. Since then, Shaik, who is signed to Next Model Management, has modeled for brands such as Intimissimi, Oscar de la Renta, Diesel and Victoria’s Secret, making her debut in the brand’s annual fashion show in 2011.
Taylor T is regarded as one of the most well-known plus-size models in South Korea. Discovered by a photographer on a trip to London, Taylor T has modeled for magazines such as Cosmopolitan Korea and Queen Size Magazine. A size 14, Taylor T has been a lifelong activist for body positivity and size inclusivity, especially in Korea. “All bodies, all colors, all shapes should be represented,” she writes on her Instagram.
The winner of 2017 Miss India International, Gupta has leveraged her pageant name into careers in Bollywood and modeling, having appeared on the cover of GQ India and FHM and modeled for brands including Lakmé Cosmetics, one of India’s most well-known cosmetics companies.
Hue might not be as much of a household name as other models on this list, but she’s on the rise. One of the cast members of E!’s Model Squad, following the careers of several up-and-coming models, Hue has posed for the likes of Banana Republic and Polo Ralph Lauren and magazines such as Marie Claire and Modern Luxury.
In 2018, Jing was named by The New York Times as one of eight “models to watch” at this year’s New York Fashion Week. A native of Wuhan, China, Jing made her runway debut at Givenchy’s Spring/Summer 2018 show in October and has posed for the likes of Harper’s Bazaar China and Marie Claire Hong Kong. She’s 22 and is represented by Elite Model Management.