12 Brands To Know For AAPI Heritage Month — And Beyond!

From jewelry to fashion, these AAPI-founded labels are ones to watch

by Aaron Royce
AAPI, AAPI brands, AAPI designers, AAPI heritage month, Maile, BONBONWHIMS, Maketh Thou, Abacaxi, Eledera, SVNR, Ashlyn, ApedeMod, Meuchner, Samantha Siu, Soara, Verafied New York

May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month! In honor of the occasion, we’re sharing some of the top brands we’re keeping our eyes on with AAPI founders—and not just this month, but year-round.

Across fashion, jewelry, and accessories, a variety of independent AAPI-led brands have skyrocketed to new heights. Maile, the chic footwear brand launched by Maile Schmidt, already counts Julia Fox and Eva Chen as fans. Editor-beloved jewelry brand BONBONWHIMSCLUB has broken through the mainstream with its colorful jewelry designs by founder Claire Ngai. Plus, new labels like Maanasa Muralidhara’s Maketh Thou, Surya Garg’s Soara, and more may have just entered the market—but they’re already catching industry interest as a new season begins.

Below, discover 12 AAPI-led labels to know and cherish for years to come.


AAPI, AAPI brands, AAPI designers, AAPI heritage month, Maile

(Courtesy of Maile)

Who: Maile Schmidt

Launched: 2022

What: Maile was launched with an emphasis on sleek ’90s and early 2000’s style, inspired by Maile Schmidt’s own mother’s extensive shoe wardrobe. Though her first collection just dropped last spring, Schmidt’s star is on the rise from spottings on fashion darlings like Julia Fox, Alix Earle, and Eva Chen. Maile’s array of slip-on mules, wedges, and ankle-strapped pumps have also expanded, with the brand launching its first boots and Valentine’s drop earlier this winter.

Where: MaileWorld.com


AAPI, AAPI brands, AAPI designers, AAPI heritage month, BONBONWHIMS, Claire Ngai

(Courtesy of BONBONWHIMS)

Who: Clare Ngai

Launched: 2021

What: Based in New York City, BONBONWHIMS is known for its colorful designs and mixed materials like enamel, resin, and freshwater pearls. First founded by Clare Ngai as a passion project to support BIPOC organizations, the brand grew among the fashion set through its signature Ling Bling rings, Rainbow Lucky initial rings, and Pop Drop earrings. Today, BONBONWHIMS is quickly growing and counts Ariana Grande, Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, and Gigi Hadid among its fans.

Where: BonBonWhims.com

Maketh Thou 


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Who: Maanasa Muralidhara

Launched: 2022

What: Inspired by her childhood in Chennai, India, Maanasa Muralidhara launched Maketh Thou with an emphasis on artisanal leather pieces. Design’s also in her DNA, as her father worked in the leather industry for over 40 years—and continues to work with her on her own label. Maketh Thou merges Chennai’s history of craftsmanship with the modernity of New York, offering contemporary pieces like biker jackets and its signature trompe l’oeil leather denim. For a personal touch, the label emphasizes utility with a close in-house team, crafting every piece from conception to production.

Where: MakethThou.com


ASHLYN, AAPI Heritage Month, AAPI brands, AAPI designers, Asian American Pacific Islander designers

ASHLYN Spring Summer 2024 (Courtesy of Ashlyn/Maria Valentino)

Who: Ashlynn Park

Launched: 2021

What: ASHLYN offers a modern, confident take on traditional tailoring with a commitment to zero-waste luxury. Creative director Ashlynn Park founded her label after extensive design experience at Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander Wang, and Calvin Klein across Japan and New York. Today, ASHLYN combines Eastern tailoring and Western draping across a range of dynamic womenswear, from layered tops and dresses to pieces crafted with its signature “puzzle” technique.

Where: ASHLYNNewYork.com

Apede Mod 


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Who: Jaquelyn Wang and Claudia Lin

Launched: 2016

What: Apede Mod was founded in New York City by two friends, Jacquelyn Wang and Claudia Lin, while searching for the perfect go-to bag. The duo’s brand blurs the lines between masculinity and femininity, as seen in pieces like their Garden tote bag, soft Cube top-handle bag, and sleek Froggy Boom shoulder bag. With inspirations ranging from architecture to nature, as well as an emphasis on color, shape, and functionality, Apede Mod’s line is both wide-ranging and practical for today’s modern set—with a focus on craftsmanship, as every piece is made by hand.

Where: ApedeMod.com



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Who: Erin Kelly Meuchner

Launched: 2022

What: Erin Kelly Meuchner launched her namesake brand in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the goal of bringing a modern spin to fine jewelry. Meuchner’s pieces often take inspiration from jewelry’s emotional bonds and the shape of the human body, as seen in signature pieces like its rounded E.M. earrings and Cascade bangles. New offerings include gemstone-set rings, pendants, and more, all inspired by her mother’s own jewelry collection from the ’80s and ’90s.

Where: Meuchner.com



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Who: Sheena Sood

Launched: 2013

What: Founded by South Asian-American designer Sheena Sood, Abacaxi is a fashion brand inspired by travel, vibrant hues, and the beauty of nature. The New York-based label’s pieces all feature bold colors, with an emphasis on innovating traditional womenswear silhouettes. Sood’s designs are especially rooted in her Indian cultural heritage and passion for indigenous textiles, incorporating artisanal methods such as handloom weaving, mirror-work beading, and plant-dyeing.

Where: Abacaxi-Nyc.com

Samantha Siu New York 


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A post shared by Samantha Siu (@samanthasiunewyork)

Who: Samantha Siu

Launched: 2019

What: Love is often on the mind for Samantha Siu, who launched her namesake jewelry brand after finding romance through travel. Siu’s honed her craft through using traditional wax carving techniques, seen in pieces like her signature reversible necklaces and multi-wear earrings. The designer’s ties to jewelry also hold deeper meaning, with accents inspired by her life experiences and an an early love of the field from her family’s manufacturing work in China and New York.

Where: SamanthaSiu.com



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Who: Alina and Gigi

Launched: 2022

What: Eledera was founded by Alina with Gigi, aiming to create timeless footwear with a sustainable spin. All of their brand’s shoes are handcrafted by Italian artisans, with highlights including its popular ballerina flats—which can also be custom-ordered through a Ballet Bar service. The label also features a transparent price system for customers, ensuring everyone is in touch on how its products are made and merchandised.

Where: Eledera.com


AAPI, AAPI brands, AAPI designers, AAPI heritage month, SVNR

(Courtesy of SVNR)

Who: Christina Tung

Launched: 2018

What: SVNR (pronounced “Souvenir”) is a fashion brand born from a mix of ethics and free-spirited style, with a commitment to sustainable manufacturing. Founded by fashion publicist Christina Tung, SVNR creates jewelry from found, reused, upcycled, and natural materials like shells, ceramic beads, agate, and more. Each handmade piece references a unique time and place for a truly persona touch. The brand also features a line of woven totes, as well as slip dresses inspired by Tung’s Chinese heritage—which are all made in small batches to promote mindful consumption.

Where: SVNRShop.com

Verafied New York 

Who: Vera C. Wang

Launched: 2017

What: Verafied, a contemporary label founded by Vera C. Wang, highlights minimalism and capsule dressing in its chic lineup. The brand’s handbags and ready-to-wear pieces feature a modern edge, thanks to minimalist silhouettes with crisp color palettes. Complementing the line is a range of affordable jewelry, from layered hoops to tennis bracelets—which can all be worn for seasons to come.

Where: Verafiedny.com


AAPI, AAPI brands, AAPI designers, AAPI heritage month, Soara, Soara NYC

(Courtesy of Soara)

Who: Surya Garg and Madhu Powar

Launched: 2024

What: New womenswear brand Soara launched this spring, inspired by co-founder Surya Garg’s Indian heritage and upbringing in New York City. Ruffled and sheer dresses, adjustable tops, and mix-and-match separates are core to the line, which includes embroidery, beading, and more from Indian artisans. In a sustainable move, the brand’s pieces are also available on a pre-order basis, allowing customers to shop mindfully while reducing overconsumption waste.

Where: Soaranyc.com

Additional reporting by Moriel Mizrahi.

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