May is Asian Heritage Month, which once again provides a great opportunity for all Canadians to educate themselves more on the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian descent who, throughout our history, have done so much to make Canada the amazing country we live in today.
One way to recognize this heritage is through familiarizing ourselves with diverse brands and designers that focus on the experiences of being an Asian Canadian and trying to make a name for yourself in the fashion industry. An example of a designer who has succeeded in doing so, and was able to express her voice and cultural experience of being an Indonesian-Canadian in the fashion industry, is Shelli Oh.
Shelli Oh is an Indonesian-Canadian fashion designer who expresses herself through the collections she makes. Having been raised in an environment that didn’t encourage open expression, but rather created a sense of “otherness”, the creative process that was a part of the making of fashion items was what gave her a voice. She used to hide her Asian identity, which ultimately “fed into the ‘model minority concept for Asians”, as she expresses. However, throughout the course of the pandemic, Shelli Oh has realized the significance of standing behind one’s identity and using one’s voice proudly, which she does through embracing her true self and not hiding behind her work.
In addition to the challenges she has experienced with her Asian-Canadian descent, Shelli Oh is also a survivor of domestic violence. Undergoing such violence taught her the importance of paying it forward and appreciating each day, which she exemplifies through many of her actions. Specifically, she contributes to The Redwood Toronto, a non-profit organization that helps women, such as herself, and children live free from domestic abuse. This organization provides a safe haven for those seeking refuge to escape, as well as helps rebuild lives post the experience of such terrible events. From creating specific collections for these people with having all the proceeds go to the charity, to starting an annual tradition of gift packages for all the women and children there, Shelli Oh continues to spread love and kindness in the community and makes an impact in overcoming the hardships that many people face in the world today.
The brand itself includes collections that infuse a refreshingly unique vitality and vision into a line of clothing, made for both women and men. These high-end luxury pieces focus on a signature, distinctive, and unique look. In recognition of her excellence in design, Shelli Oh has been a Matinee Fashion Foundation Grant recipient for two consecutive years. Starting with womenswear, she was praised for empowering femininity through the pieces, and instilling fearlessness in every woman. Menswear slowly integrated its way into her collections, which diversified her creations, and now she has become marked as a favourite across North America and beyond. Both her womenswear and menswear collections have unique inspirations and individual stories that forge these signature looks and make them into the exquisite staples they are.
To find out more about the brand and the history of this Asian-Canadian fashion creator, visit http://www.shellioh.com/
Instagram & Twitter – @shelli_oh
Facebook – facebook.com/shelli.oh.clothing