Jasmine Chong on her NYFW debut collection that's taken years to make
Meet the Malaysian-Indonesian designer who will be making Malaysia proud this coming New York Fashion Week
Jasmine Chong is putting down roots as a fashion designer in New York City. On 17 February, she will make her debut at New York Fashion Week with a collection that, according to her, felt like it took years to make. The fashion scene in New York is intimidating, but she wouldn't have picked any other place to show her work.
"New York is the fashion capital of the world, and I've been here for the past four years, so this is where I've built my network," Jasmine told ELLE. "It was a natural choice for me to stay and show the debut collection here."
The Malaysian-Indonesian designer has a pretty intimidating resume herself. She graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design, and Parsons School of Design with a degree in Fashion Business, Marketing and Merchandising. Jasmine has made three smaller collections in university, so New York Fashion Week will be her biggest gig yet. She now runs her company with her sister Jacintha as a long-distance partnership. Things are looking good for Jasmine, but even so, she feels like she has a long way to go.
"I don't feel like I've made it big at all," Jasmine said. "But I think the best thing about this city is that it's a rich and energetic environment that is conducive for creativity. There's such a breadth of incredible work being created here, from fashion legends to small design studios – and everyone has such a distinct aesthetic. It's incredibly inspiring."
For the designer, inspiration is something that stays with you for a long time. She goes back to sketches and pictures from years ago and so it feels like she's been working on the collection for years.
"I allow the colours, textures, and silhouettes to change as I work on the actual prototypes," Jasmine explained. "Sometimes I'll step away from a dress and allow the idea to incubate, grow and evolve. The creative process is a fluid process for me."
Adding to the fact that she showed interest in fashion design since she was young – she fell in love with fabric at a young age when her mother made her playdresses – Jasmine started sketching from the tender age of five. Comfort is always at the heart of her designs, which she dedicates to the gracious and strong woman, and this is reflected in her own sense of style.
Jasmine is one of the lucky few to have figured out what she wants to do for the rest of her life from when she was young. Not even getting pricked in the finger every day by needles at work will discourage her. Being able to make an impact on customers with great clothes is what makes her feel good about her job. One time, a woman bought most of the pieces from Jasmine's collection after having seen one of the skirts that reminded the woman of something her mother used to wear.
"I remember going home and holding the check she wrote me in my hand," Jasmine reminisced. "I remember feeling like everything in my life aligned when someone I didn't know felt beautiful in my clothes and drew meaning from it. I've held on to that feeling. It's why I design. Making clothes that women feel good in – that, to me feels like something I could do forever."
Eventually, Jasmine will take her work to Asian fashion weeks, where she will undoubtedly make her mark close to home. Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week is definitely one such place we'd love to see her in, but that's not all that is luring her back here.
"I think there's something very exciting and fresh happening in the fashion climate in Southeast Asia, and I'd love to be a part of it," she said. "Plus, I still haven't found the perfect laksa in New York just yet, so I'll have to spend some time in KL every year!"