Emerging Designers 2023 Fashion

Discover the Underground Fashion Label With a Spot in Billie Eilish, BTS, and Justin Bieber's Wardrobes


Vietnamese American designer Hung La had been operating Kwaidan Editions, the luxury womenswear label he cofounded in London with his wife, Léa Dickely, for four years when 2020 hit like a hammer. A Black man named George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis. Asian Americans were targeted in a slew of violent hate crimes spurred by the xenophobic rhetoric on newscasts and social media, and the Covid pandemic was at its peak.

“All of these issues about identity started to creep up,” recalls La. After training at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and working for nearly a decade at Balenciaga and Celine, the 45-year-old designer responded to the moment in the only way he knew how: through clothing.

Lu’u Dan was born in 2022, a menswear line that embodied the vision of Asian masculinity that La, who grew up in a Vietnamese enclave nestled in an otherwise white suburb of Washington, DC, longed to see: cool and rebellious, richly complex yet utterly bad. A boy you just don’t fuck with.

The name of the brand says it all. Vietnamese for “pomegranate bullet,” a loose colloquialism meaning “dangerous man,” Lu’u Dan’s clothing is stitched together from villainous archetypes and real-life subcultures. La’s Autumn/Winter 2023 collection was inspired by bōsōzoku motorcycle gangs, while his Spring/Summer 2024 collection, presented in Paris this summer, took cues from Japanese workwear with paint-splattered coats, khaki vests, and a voluminous riff on tobi pants (the baggy trousers worn by construction workers). “It’s about your working-class dude who doesn’t aspire to be more,” explains La.

That laissez-faire attitude—which, like so much in fashion, is carefully cultivated and sold—has resonated with many of those shaping today’s youth culture, including the pop star Billie Eilish, who garnered buzz when she wore the brand’s vibrant logo windbreaker to a Met Gala after-party in May.

“The way I look at it, the more authentic I am with my community, the more outsiders will want to participate,” says La. “That’s the beauty of subculture. When there’s authenticity and truth, people will want to be a part of it."

This feature is part of CULTURED'Emerging Designer portfolio, featured in the September issue.