Designer A Sai Ta Reflects on a Cultural Pilgrimage to Vietnam

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Courtesy of Asai

His first time in the country for ten years, the designer behind Asai documents a trip to his mother’s birthplace

Since making his debut at London Fashion Week as part of talent incubator Fashion East last year, designer A Sai Ta of label Asai has cultivated a faithful following with his culturally charged designs. “It’s about playing with familiar things – but recontextualising them,” Ta told AnOther, the designer’s work encompassing both his Chinese and Vietnamese heritage. This manifests in the form of handbags with nunchucks for handles, tie-dyed “hot wok tops” in kaleidoscopic colour, and boots made to look like traditional Chinese porcelain. Even his Instagram account is called @asaitakeaway – a nod to Chinese restaurants.

When we catch up with Ta, he is in the throes of preparing for his S/S19 collection. So, what better way to immerse himself in one half of his culture than by reconnecting with his mother’s birthplace of Vietnam? His first time visiting in a decade, first and foremost it was a chance for the designer to visit his extended family and catch up. Not to mention an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere that the city has to offer – all while zipping around on a motorbike – as well as relaxing on the idyllic beaches (backdropped by breathtaking mountains, no less) watching the local fishermen.

Here, as part of our series on designer’s memorable summers, Ta shares his experiences from his trip – along with photographs of the picturesque landscapes, taken by the designer himself.

“This summer was my first family holiday where we all went back to Vietnam together. The dates also coincided with an invitation to show my work on the Golden Bridge in Ba Na Hill and I created a new capsule collection just for it. It was an amazing experience, especially being able to showcase my work to a whole new audience.

“It was great to go back to where my mother grew up; I haven’t been to Vietnam in ten years and this was my third time visiting. I saw my grandmother and spent lots of quality time with the rest of my family – it was great connecting with my culture. Vietnam has such a rich history, and it was really eye-opening being there again. I spent time in the National War Museum in Ho Chi Minh and learnt about the effect and aftermath of the Vietnam War.

“Across the whole of Vietnam there are so many areas to explore, there are amazing beaches and mountains and it’s really easy to travel. The cities and nature are so breathtaking, and the food alone is worth going for. While I was there I learnt to ride a motorbike and buzzing around the towns was so exhilarating, but also quite scary; if you can survive the traffic in Vietnam, you can survive it anywhere! It’s crazy that there is so much order in what might be seen by others as chaotic.

“Obviously, the best part about the trip was that it was a moment of peace and calm before the storm of London Fashion Week.”