Viral Designer Ada Chen Breaks into NYC Fashion Like a Boss

Sep 14, 2019 | POP, SHOP, STYLE

Model wearing Ada Chen’s Chink Eyepiece

Meet Ada Chen, the Asian artist that is breathing a new life in jewelry designs and pop-culture creating a media buzz online.

Fashion industry has taken the next step in its trajectory, with emerging lines and brands catering to women of color and consumers of every ethnicity. Finally, Asian women are clapping back to represent the multicultural market we live in.

Ada Chen, a designer major and bonafide creative, she has been able to build a successful contemporary jewelry brand that mirrors and lifts women, Asians and Asian Americans.

Her viral collection “Text Message” earrings blew up online due to its realness and relatability. From her brand’s minimal online presence is the fact that behind the scenes, it’s a powerhouse. The San Francisco born artist is confronting and shattering fetishes and stereotypes.

Ada Chen - Text Earrings

Ada Chen – Text Earrings

Her cut-throat yet playful designs built connectivity and lead her to Teen Vogue, Vice, Refinery, Fader, I-D and more.

So what’s the story and driving force behind this remarkable demand and brand performance? It has a lot to do with the brand’s founder. I spoke with Ada and here’s what she had to say about her works from inspirations, identity, operations, and beyond:

Can you walk us through your brand and how you carved out its aesthetic and audience?

My brand started as my thesis collection for my final year at Pratt Institute. I majored in jewelry and I wanted to find a way to express my exploration of identity in my craft. As an Asian American woman, I realized that our experiences had not yet heavily penetrated pop culture. My aesthetic is heavily based on that because it plays a significant role in popularizing identity politics and because it is highly accessible. The viral text message earrings is proof of that. 

Well, I am absolutely in love with the text-based earrings. What’s the story?

Both earrings are based on real conversations I’ve had with non-Asian men who wanted to hook up. They were just so ridiculous and so representative of what Asian women have to deal with in the dating scene. I made my thesis collection to represent multiple aspects of being Chinese and/or Asian in America, and this piece represents the Asian fetish aspect of it. They are an explicit depiction of ignorance that I hope will stymie non-Asian men from being this disrespectful to Asian women. 

How do you think these, including the rest of your collection: “Made In China,” “Asian Pussy,” “Shrimp Dick,” contribute to some of the world’s bigger conversation?

I want my work to contribute to the conversation around Asian diasporas globally. I want to expand my understanding of how my identity affects my own experiences as well as those who are not Chinese. I hope I can make jewelry that women can appreciate and value even if they might not be able to afford it. I aim to make jewelry that has value beyond its intrinsic, material value. I also want to be an example of a successful Asian American artist. I’d love for more of us to pursue art if we can, instead of succumbing to the pressure of pursuing a career for money.

Why is it important to you as a designer to bring your identity and highlight them in your works?

Because it’s an exploration of how I move through space and how my skin and culture affect my experiences. I want our community to talk in-depth about our positions in America, to actively participate in improving our communities, and to stop avoiding topics our immigrant families cannot and therefore fail to address. Ultimately, I want to highlight my identity in ways that we can be proud of it. I am jealous of the younger generation who are now experiencing the rise of Asian Americans in pop culture.

To wrap this up, what’s ahead of the brand?

I’m not sure yet, but my goal is to start making impactful work that does not simply cater to the consumer but contributes to the rise in Asian American pop culture.