Creating belonging

There is a notion among anglicized countries that Asians are perpetual foreigners. Ninh Do (Vietnam), Kamesh Ranatunga (Sri Lanka) and Taufiq Haryanto (Indonesia), the founders of the creative collective Via De Sol, grew up in Australia and are all familiar with this perception.

With Via De Sol, the three creators came together through their diverse Asian heritages, their migrant upbringings, and the cultural artistic references (fashion, music, dance, games…) that defined their development — “we all have that deep-rooted in common in our cultures and our DNA—and also the celebration of community.”

There is a relationship between cultural artistic references and the immigrant experience. “As immigrants we’re supposed to assimilate, to hide our identity. We have to keep ourselves down. Fashion, art, music, and dance afford opportunities where we can be our powerful selves. It’s also the easiest way for people to understand an experience.”

“We want to take our community on a journey with each collection while pursuing our brand mission; the growth of the brand, our personal growth as Asian creatives, and insights into what inspires us as Asian Australian creatives”. The brand name Via De Sol is decoded to mean ‘navigating through a desolate place’ (via/navigating - via; desolare/desolate - de sol); overcoming feelings of being lost or alone; to fulfil a sense of belonging.

“The goal is to build Via De Sol into a social impact brand, a community to positively advance Australian culture. To create a sense of belonging, a sense of identity through contemporary fashion, unique events (ranging from art exhibitions to concerts) and collaborations to shape the perception of Asian culture in modern Western society. Sticking to who we are and not pretending to be who we are not”.
Collection 01 - "Ready? Let's take it from the top!"

What defines the cultural experience of being a Millennial/Gen Z Asian in an anglicized country? An identity search medley of rebelling, anime, cosplay, and, last but not least, Hip Hop dance crews.

With their introductory collection, Via De Sol clearly asserts their visual language. The chosen dark color palette reflects feelings of loss experienced by outsiders trying to find identity. The ‘Yoru No Akuma’ visual (Night Devil) symbolizes escapism from social pressure (a rebellious phase of partying amidst expectations within traditional Asian community and households). Graphics reference anime ‘Ghost in the Shell’ and the affiliation to Asian culture with cosplay (needing to escape reality and familial expectations).

Hip hop was formed during the 1970s in New York City by the African American youth residing in the Bronx. Music and films quickly spread it globally and hip-hop dance rose to popularity in many Asian countries as a form of self-expression and resistance. But the contemporary boom of Asian immigrants in hip-hop seems born out of a different impulse—one of finding belonging and connecting with others who share unique experience.

"Hip-hop as a form was this space in-between that almost mirrored the hyphenated experience of being of Asian descent: being Asian or immigrant—but not really being one or the other, and trying to find identity," said Dr. Grace Jun, a professor of dance at the University of California San Diego.

The Via De Sol creatives were heavily influenced by dance crews like Jabbawockeez and Quest Crew who they watched obsessively during their youth. The hip hop dance crews trademark style, re-envisioned with the creative's cumulative community references, drove the choices for this collection: resolutely streetwear, decisively Australian and unwaveringly Asian.
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