May marks the start of Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month. But no matter the time of year, it’s always great to support minority brands on the style, beauty, and lifestyle fronts. This is a chance to discover emerging designers, innovative beauty products, tasty flavors, and more. While we love a little TLC via online shopping, we can easily support more AAPI-owned businesses by shopping locally. From industry bestsellers to newer up-and-coming products, we’re highlighting our favorite AAPI-owned brands that embrace innovation and tradition.
With so many new brands and designers launching their collections, it’s hard to know where to start. Below, we listed a few of our favorites fashion brands and designers who are making a name for themselves!
Cotton Pojagi Wrap Skirt
This patchwork skirt is directly inspired by the way women took leftover scraps of fabric to repurpose into larger textiles, recreating the Korean traditional quilting called Pojagi. The quilted cotton fabric was bought in the markets of Seoul and traditionally hand-dyed with natural materials by local artisans.
Get the best of both worlds for style and lift in the vibrant Como top. OOKIOH was founded by Vivek Agarwal who was inspired by the Japanese work Ukiyo meaning “the floating world.” He started the brand with an eye toward travel, female beauty, and functionality
Jillian Chinese Jacquard Dress
This modern take on a traditional cheongsam is truly glamorous. With the high Mandarin collar, the twist frog buttons on the shoulder, and the jacquard fabric, it’s perfect for a night out at the chicest of parties.
Sana Palazzo Sari
A hot take on the elegant sari, this three-piece set, features a square-neck blouse, a tiered palazzo pant–with an elastic waistband–and a detachable drape of coordinated matching print and sequin embroidery.
From their new Bloomscape Collection, the Flower Ring is the perfect accessory to wear all season long. Plus, if your allergies are as bad as mine, a little flower detail won’t hurt here!
We’re all a little obsessed with sheer dressing. The namesake brand was first inspired by Chinatown grannies (before granny fashion was a thing) and continues to honor the downtown NYC vibes collection after collection.
Memory Palace Bracelet
Partnering with Heart of Dinner, a non-profit that gives a helping hand to the elderly in New York’s Chinatowns, the two NYC-based collective created sculptural bracelets featuring two hand-carved charms, a heart to represent love, and a rabbit to symbolize this year’s zodiac sign! All sales made from this bracelet will go back to Heart of Dinner.
Maison Miru x Heart of Dinner
Ruffle Divya Dress
Merging vibrant hues and handcrafted techniques while playing on traditional silhouettes, founder Sheena Sood mixes a tropical spirit with classic NYC street style.
Sponde UV Reactive Maxi Dress
A dress that changes color! Ever feel that midday blah feel a desperate need for a change? This is the dress that delivers that change. A moment in the sun, and tadah, the dress goes from white to a soft pink.
Beauty plays a huge role in Asian culture. Our tried and true K-Beauty brands are using innovative technologies and native ingredients for healthy, glowy skin–all while finding ways to honor their roots and traditions. If you spend time on TikTok, trends like glass skin, hair oiling, and ayurvedic skincare, all have roots in Asian culture.
However, as much as we love our cushion compacts and guashas, we can’t forget the stigma and lack of diversity due to colorism deeply rooted in our shared cultures. Below, we highlight a few beauty brands that embrace diversity and traditions.
Deep Detox Volcanic Exfoliating Mask
Specially created with oily, acne-prone skin in mind, this mask is formulated with harvested ash from Mt. Mayon–the Philippines’ most active volcano. Combined with kaolin and pili oil, known to be a good source of Vitamin E, the mask pulls impurities while hydrating and balancing out the skin.
Gentle Shower Eau de Parfum
Apart of Elorea’s newest collection The Forgotten Words, this scent is influenced by the word jambi [잠비], which refers to an unexpected rain that allows harvesters to have a moment of rest. Appropriately so, this unisex perfume highlights notes of oakmoss, orris, and perilla leaf. And if you don’t know what a perilla leaf smells like, think: an earthier combination of mint and basil.
Brightening Saffron Serum
This brightening serum encourages cell repair, soothes stressed skin, and reduces hyperpigmentation via its core ingredients: saffron, turmeric, and licorice root.
BYO Blush Color Changing Blush Oil
Founder Fiona Co Chan wanted to create a universally flattering blush for all skin tones and types. The blush reacts to the skin’s pH level, resulting in a nice flush of color on the cheeks!
Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser
It’s all in the name–featuring matcha and hemp, this cleanser is high in antioxidants and omega-3s resulting in a moisturizing and soothing experience. The silky-gel texture lathers and lifts the day away, all without drying out your skin like some cleansers.
The Multi Stick
Who doesn’t love a multi-stick? For a flush of color, apply to the eyes, cheeks, and lips, or you can build the product up for a statement look. Plus the multi-stick is cruelty-free and vegan, featuring ingredients like mango butter and adaptogenic herbs from Ayurveda.
MyMatcha All Over Moisture Stick
This product is a skin savior, especially in the drier or colder seasons. The stick gives a quick wake-up call to my poor dark under eyes or a much-need dose of moisture for my lips.
Moon Glow Milky Toning Lotion
Quite literally an all-star, this milky toner sets the tone for your skincare routine. With key ingredients like snow mushroom, niacinamide, and ceramides, the toner helps lock moisture and hydrates the skin like no other.
Rice Drops Face Oil Hydrating Serum
Rice is already known to be high in antioxidants and can provide some intense hydration without clogging pores. This lightweight oil can nourish the skin and reduce appearance of fine lines and pores.
Food & Drinks
Asian cuisine is known for its vast and dynamic range of flavors, so it’s time to expand your palette past that pack of instant spicy ramyeon (although it’s great for a midnight snack). Umami, savory, sweet, and spicy– this list isn’t short on flavor. Below, we’re making it easy to pack in flavors for everyday cookery, and add in a few 21+ favorites to your list!
MingsBings Variety Pack
Iron Chef Ming Tsai created his line as a modern take on traditional Chinese street foods. MingBings are plant-based, gluten-free, and easy for quick meals!
Cold Brew with Condensed Milk
The condensed milk cold brew pays direct homage to the iconic Vietnamese iced coffee we know and love. This cold brew version is slightly smoother, and perfect for coffee beginners or a midday pick me up!
Nguyen Coffee Supply
Calamansi is a staple citrus in Southeast Asia. It’s a cross between a lime and tangerine, tart and slightly sweet. Other than smearing onto toast, which is a solid move, crafting a summery drink or baking with the marmalade is just as easy.
Seasons of Japan Snack Box
Bokksu is a Japanese snack box subscription that delivers tasty snacks to your front door. This box is curated of seasonal flavors of Japan, filled with snack and tea pairings! It will be hard not to eat them all in one sitting.
The Vegan Set
Founded by two Vietnamese sisters, Kim and Vanessa Pham, the duo composed delicious flavors for every meal. Onsom is a phrase that means “rambunctious” and “noisy,” fitting for these sauces that proudly bring loud Asian flavors to the table. This vegan set brings Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Filipino to the table to enjoy!
This roundup wouldn’t be complete without a chili crisp. David Chang’s recipe is umami-forward, and the crunch factor comes from the crispy fried garlic and shallots. This is the crunch to top off the best bowl of noodles or avocado toast. But if you’re as easily influenced by TikTok as I am, try them on a big scoop of cold vanilla ice cream–you’ll thank me later.
Floral, smooth, and light, this whiskey is distilled from rice and pure mountain waters. Founder Ann Soh Woods first started the brand in 2015, and today she continues to shine a light on the AAPI communities with the launch of Yuzuri, a yuzu liqueur that is both smooth and tart!
Free AF is boozy without the booze. Out to normalize an alcohol-free lifestyle, founder Lisa King created Free AF, a line of alcohol-free mocktails crafted with Afterglow™, with 100% natural botanical extracts that mimic the warmth of drinking alcohol without the negative effects. And for all those friends who have Asian glow (i.e. me), it’s an easy drink to have in hand and mingle without turning red the second alcohol hits your system.