easygoing and effortlessly. These are the words that come to mind when looking at the first collection of men’s clothing from Commission. The collection embodies the spirit of Commission, which draws inspiration from the founders ‘memories of their working mothers’ wardrobes. Think: crisp shirts, mixed prints and pencil skirts. For their first menswear collection, you’ll find similar nostalgic prints mixed with sleek modern zip-up jackets and minimalist striped polo shirts.
But their goal is to create more than just clothes. The new merchandise is featured in a special portrait series featuring all of the Asian men on the streets, photographed by Katsu Naito and styled by Jason Rider. Through their work, the founders hope to dispel old visual stereotypes of Asians found in the Western and fashion industry. One hundred percent of proceeds from the portrait series prints and books will benefit AALDEF (Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund) and Apex for Youth, which aims to support underserved Asian-American immigrant communities in New York.
The creators, Huy Luong, Dylan Cao and Jin Kay wanted to present “Asian masculinity through a beautiful and respectful point of view,” a rare sight in film, television and fashion. The designers said via email, “We have rarely seen Asian men being photographed romantically but also truthfully and intimately in the media, especially in fashion and film. There may have been more of this type of spotlight, only in the intimate work of artists like Hideki Sato, Joji Hashiguchi or Wong Kar-wai decades ago, but it’s definitely lacking right now. As Rider recalls, “I remember seeing an editorial in a fashion magazine recently that highlighted different male archetypes and, unsurprisingly, the only Asian model was picked as ‘The Geek’ and hopefully shoots like ours will show more people that Asian men are indeed cool, stylish and desirable too. For the designers, “The project is our way of defying that convention and speaking directly to today’s Asian-male portrayal.” hui, which is still limited, tokenized and sometimes caricatured.
The intimate and nostalgic quality of the photos is similar to Naito’s previous series of portraits “Once in Harlem”, shot in the late 80s and 90s which documented the daily lives of the neighbors he used to see all. the days when he lived in Harlem, a mix of families, men and women of all ages, and children playing in the familiar streets he walked every day. “I would like viewers to feel the emotional quality that each subject brings [here] beyond fashion, ”remarks Naito. As Rider notes, “It has always been a challenge in New York, trying to incorporate more Asian male talent into the shoots because of the way they have traditionally been spotted – i.e. with characteristics physical and western characteristics – so it was really important for us to try to present a different type of character, more sensitive, more intellectual, closer to who we grew up. ”
The charitable initiative touches the founders of the Commission closely. “Education was basically the reason the three of us came to America,” say the designers. Luong and Cao are from Vietnam and Kay from Korea. “As first generation immigrants, we know firsthand how difficult it can be to live and navigate the city while facing legal protection and immigration complications… Apex for Youth and AALDEF provide the right support for this. “
Special edition prints ($ 100) and printed softcover books ($ 40) from the Portrait Series will be available for purchase at Commission.nyc.