UT fashion show features traditional Asian attire


Photo Credit: Ann Morris

Instead of big hair, intense eyeshadow and avant-garde clothing, saris, kimonos, ao dais and qi paos will grace the runway.

On Wednesday the Asian American Culture committee of UT’s Campus Events and Entertainment will host Mr. + Ms. Runway, a co-ed fashion show in which models will represent their heritages through traditional Asian clothing. Kieu Huynh, communications junior and chair of the committee, said the event differs from past shows because of its unique cultural twist.

“It’s the first time that we’re using traditional clothing as a way to express Asian American culture on campus,” Huynh said. “In the past few years, we have had Ms. Asia competitions but never with traditional outfits. The event is put up so that all of the models from different organizations can showcase
their heritage.”

While the first round of the show will feature models in their traditional garb, the second act spotlights modern fashion trends in each represented country. Huynh, who is Vietnamese, said the event will show diversity within UT’s Asian community.

“We were trying to bring in Southeastern Asia because we never really showcase that (region), and then we just branched out to showcase all Asian cultures,” Huynh said. “It’s really interesting to see (the models) showcasing all of their different customs.”

The models’ searches for clothing were extremely personal experiences, with each looking far and wide to find clothing that is as authentic as possible. Many even imported their gear directly from the country they represent.

Exercise science junior Christy Coe chose to model for the event and found her outfit at an unusual place: a local temple.

“Part of (my outfit) was already mine,” Coe said. “I used to do Thai pageants, so my outfit is based on outfits you usually see in traditional pageants.” 

Coe said the event allows each model to represent cultures that may not have much visibility on campus otherwise. 

“The best part about this show to me is the fact that I get to represent my country,” Coe said. “I don’t feel like Thai culture is really represented on this campus. I don’t even know one other Thai person. It’s nice to show other people our culture because people tend to categorize us as one thing. It’s all ‘Asian’ and not a specific country.”

Trieu Tran, Asian American studies junior and member of the committee, will represent Vietnam as a model in the show. Tran said the event gave her a chance to do something she never thought she would before.

“Because I am a petite person, I never really thought about modeling, so this is a good opportunity to just have fun and represent my country,” Tran said. “My outfit was made in Vietnam. My mom got me the outfit, so it means a lot.”

Despite the glamour, the show remains dedicated to showing the importance of diversity on campus. While the event will be lighthearted and fun, Tran said the show will also seek to educate its attendees.

“There are so many different cultures and traditions,” Tran said. “Each country is so different from the other, and most people don’t get to see that. There are smaller countries that people don’t even really know about and are often misrepresented. It will be a learning experience.”