Wake up girlies, it's ASAI's comeback show!

After a three-year hiatus, the binch is back

Hero image in post
Hero image in post

After a three-year hiatus, the binch is back

By Megan Wallace20 Feb 2023
3 mins read time
3 mins read time

In the fashion world, novelty is everything: consumers want something new to chew on, and they want it now. So what does it mean to take time out in an industry where trend cycles are ever-shortening and the demand for combustible social media moments never ceases?

This is the question that the audience at ASAI’s AW23 show were faced with this LFW. The Chinese-Vietnamese-British designer A Sai Ta became one of the most exciting names in the UK fashion scene after launching his label ASAI in 2017. Showing under the mentorship of Fashion East in 2017 and 2018, he gained a fan in the one and only RiRi.

And while this kind of media hype isn’t uncommon for young brands, his stretchy, acid-coloured Hot Wok top went on to enjoy cult item status among fashion editors and – in a similar way Telfar’s shopper – proved that this emerging designer could balance a taste-making reputation alongside commercial viability.


But then, after one season standing on his own, ASAI seemingly disappeared from the runway. Partly, this was due to the pandemic – the Shanghai factory where the designer’s AW20 collection was being produced was closed as a result of government lockdowns. However, as the designer explained in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, this pause was also a chance to reflect on his place within the industry and his sustainability practices.

The result? An AW23 collection – and show – which was about ripping up and repurposing the designer’s established style codes. Kicking off with a haunting performance, model, musician and ASAI muse Tsunaina regaled the audience with a siren song before a deconstructed soundtrack courtesy of Miss Carrie Stacks shocked them to attention.

Featuring slick leather-look dresses, denim, cutouts and fringing, it was a bold push towards new style territory for the designer. Some of the items which made him famous - such as his yin and yang bag and nunchuck purse – did make an appearance, but there was no nostalgia here. After reminding us of who he is, the creative promptly tore this vision up – sending shredded versions of his signature tie-dye tops and dresses down the catwalk.

The climate has changed in the years since an ASAI collection last took to the stage. Yes, the fashion industry's churn still seems never-ending (even as everything burns around us) but the role of clothes has changed. For many of us, clothing isn't just about self-expression, it's a form of escapist armour and a way of cocooning ourselves from the increasingly perilous political backdrop. This is something which the designer seems to innately recognise. With models decked out in bright, voluminous garments and shredded, skin-tight gowns, the show's apocalyptic glamour is a resounding wakeup call to a new ASAI era and a new world order.