Bangkok for off-key design boutiques, Hong Kong for discount designer gear, Singapore for all of the above, but Ho Chi Minh…? For a long time, the city was known for its textile production nous. Now, thanks to a growing band of home-grown designers, Saigon, as it’s still referred to locally, is fast becoming one of the most progressive fashion cities in South-East Asia. Downtown boutiques such as Phuong My, the store of one of the city’s most prolific designers, are now a must-stop on the region’s style circuit.
There are others: the striking designs of Christian Dior alum Do Manh Cuong can be found in District 1; also known for outré-but-wearable womenswear, Devon Nguyen has outlets in Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and London. Others have also found fame overseas: Nguyen Cong Tri has shown at both London and Tokyo Fashion Weeks and has a Saigon boutique renowned for edgy refits of the classic Vietnamese ao dai silk tunic. “Asia is booming,” he says. “You can feel a new self-belief. Vietnamese fashion is feeding off that energy.”