AsiaStore Blog

AsiaStore Buying Trip: Day 7 Delhi

Follow AsiaStore’s Chief Merchandising Officer Anne Godshall as she scouts out the latest designs in Asia.


Ahh, the fruits of India, what a beautiful way to start the day!


Today I am met by Sangita who has kindly offered to introduce me to some more Kashmiri suppliers and will arrange to have all my India purchases shipped back to NY. 1st stop Khan market to meet with another paper mache supplier, recommended by friends in Kashmir. As we navigate our way through the marketplace, my eye is caught by a fun grouping of burlap totes with sari borders. The laminated interior make it the perfect beach tote/gift bag. Next we pass a stationery store where I spot these lovely block printed notecard packs…have to have them! Onward…oh no, the jewelry. Love the beaded cuffs… I take every piece he has and add in the gold and silver snake bracelets for fun.


Finally, the paper mache shop. This is the collection that is proving to be most problematic. I loved the paisley pieces I found in Kashmir, but the production quantities they requested were just too high for us. The gentleman in this shop says quantities are no problem, so we are off to a good start. Here it is the beautiful chinar leaf pattern that captures my attention. I select 3 designs and request a fourth colorway to be developed. Then the shapes; boxes, containers, coaster sets, trays and bowls…I love, love, love the new collection! Given that each piece has to be hand made I am concerned about delivery, but the owner assures me the collection will be ready in time for Asia Society’s Kashmiri exhibition this fall.

Before leaving Khan market we make a quick stop at Kavita’s signature boutique…just love her creations! On to another textile showroom where I select needlework pieces to supplement my Kashmir purchases. I especially like the copper and coffee colored wools in this grouping.

Back to the hotel where we load up Sangita’s car with all my Kashmir/India purchases. As I turned to enter the hotel, I run into my Asia Society colleague, Pramit, who’s in India for meetings…it’s a small world.

Next I’m off to meet with Rauf Shaw who’s family has had a long tradition of developing carpets and textiles in Kashmir. He shows me the various qualities of wool, cashmere and pashmina. I am intrigued by the block printing and crinkling techniques they are using on cashmere…might be a good look for us!

That’s it for today!

AsiaStore Buying Trip: Day 6 Srinagar/Delhi

Follow AsiaStore’s Chief Merchandising Officer Anne Godshall as she scouts out the latest designs in Asia.

I’m off to meet the copper dealer at Tariq’s studio. The dealer arrives with my newly polished pieces…gorgeous!! Seems like I need another suitcase to carry all my goods. I bid Tariq a fond farewell and bags bulging, head to the airport.

That’s where the fun begins…security is a bit overwhelming. Prior to arriving at the airport, we stop at 2 checkpoints where my tickets and documents are reviewed. Then we are asked to unload all the luggage. The security and scrutiny is intense.

My fellow passengers were quite friendly and eager to hear about my travels. There were many questions, most wondering the purpose of my visit. When I told them I was here to source product for AsiaStore, they were quick to point out that Kashmir is all about the handmade process…no machine made here! There was an intense sense of pride among the people regarding the region and all that is Kashmiri.


Back in Delhi, I am met by the driver for Satya Paul. Thank goodness, as I can barely lift by bags. I arrive at their new Genesis Colors headquarters where I am met by Nalini and Jyoti. Nalini recommends adding silk sarongs to the AsiaStore product mix. Joyti suggests a great new gift box concept featuring a color coordinated tie, cufflinks and pocket square….perfect for Father’s Day. In addition to the new products, we update the current tie and scarf collections with a fabulous grouping of unique paisley prints. The new collection should be in store by the end of the month. Be sure and stop by before you head to the beach!

In addition to Satya Paul wholesale and retail, Nalini mentions that the parent company has expanded, adding new designer brands to the mix along with a new retail component, Samsaara which houses the collections of over 65 designers. The driver takes me over to the new boutique…unfortunately the traffic in Delhi (picture Rockefeller Center congestion at the holidays) has us arriving as the store was closing. I explained the purpose of my visit and the manager graciously allows me to take a quick tour through the 3 story outlet, emphasizing that to truly indulge in the Samsaara experience, I must come back and plan to spend a couple of hours browsing…he was right, this place is amazing!

AsiaStore Buying Trip: Day 5 Srinagar Kashmir

Follow AsiaStore’s Chief Merchandising Officer Anne Godshall as she scouts out the latest design talent in Asia.

The Srinagar strip opens at 10am. 1st stop the beverage dealer. Unfortunately, he explains that I wiped him out of diet coke yesterday, so I’ll have to find a new source!

With only one day remaining in Kashmir, I’m looking to finalize my buys. I’ve reviewed collections and compared price points and identified the “must haves” for the store. The hand embroideries and the needlework are definates. I’m going with the needlework jackets and shawls along with the embroidered blouses and shawls. Beautiful additions to our Summer and Fall assortments.


From there I head back to Tariq’s studio, as he’s taking me to the “old town” to do some copper sourcing. The marketplace is a tight maze, so we park the car and head out on foot. It’s like taking a step back in time with the various old world dealers specializing in cotton, chili peppers and metals and such. We find several copper dealers and do a bit of comparison shopping. One stall stands out as it features a magnificent tray, etched with the Chinar leaf, a favorite design motif of Kashmiri artisans, and it is here that I decide to make my buy. After making my selections, the owner places the pieces onto a scale, determining the price based on weight. After some feverish negotiations, we settle on a discounted price and they agree to have the pieces polished and delivered tomorrow morning.


Next we make a brief stop at Tariq’s workshop where I have the opportunity to watch handloom rug weavers producing incredible works of art…amazing !

From there, Tariq takes a detour to show me the sites of Kashmir. We stop for tea at the former Grand Palace, now an intercontinental hotel. It was wonderfully peaceful sitting outside, admiring the beautiful gardens. We had the undivided attention of the wait staff as we were the only customers…the tourists were noticeably absent, in what is now the start of the “high season”.


Next we head to the lake…Tariq points out the famous house boats on Dal lake, which tourists book for their vacation getaways. Another lakeside attraction are the Shikara, unique water taxis and gondolas. Despite the army guards lining the streets, the sites are lovely and everything appears to be quite peaceful.

Time to head back….after a brief stop at the internet cafe ( and I use that term loosely, as the “cafe” is actually a 3rd floor walk up in old building) I have the pleasure of joining Tariq for a traditional home cooked Kashmiri dinner.

Another great day !

Asian American Designer Spotlight: Richard Tsao

Artist turned designer, Richard Tsao, has been attracting attention with his hand crafted Thai silk collection which debuted at AsiaStore in 2001. Tsao’s versatile cocoon fashions can now be spotted everywhere, from the streets of Manhattan to VIP galas. Dividing his time between New York and his native Bangkok, Tsao produces two collections a year, introducing new custom colors seasonally.

You are classically trained as an abstract painter. How did you end up designing clothing in addition to your artwork?

SIX YEARS AGO ON A TRIP HOME TO VISIT MY MOTHER AND SIBLINGS, I WENT TO MY TAILOR WITH THIS IDEA THAT I WANTED TO HAVE HIM SEW ELASTIC ONTO THIS BEAUTIFUL THAI SILK THAT I HAD, AND CREATE A COCOON LIKE JACKET. I LIKED THE IDEA THAT THE ELASTIC ALLOWED FOR A PIECE OF GARMENT (SUCH AS MY NIECE’S BATHING SUITS) TO BE “ONE SIZE FITS MANY.” AT FIRST HE RESISTED DOING IT AND SAID IT WASN’T POSSIBLE, BUT AFTER 5 WEEKS OF LOTS AND LOTS OF TRIAL AND ERROR AND TWEAKING, WE FINALLY SUCCEEDED WITH A FEW PROTOTYPES THAT I BROUGHT BACK TO NYC. I REALLY DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO WITH THEM ONCE I WAS BACK IN NYC SINCE I WAS RELUCTANT TO HAVE AN THING TO DO WITH THE RETAIL WORLD. PRIOR TO ASIASTORE I WOULD JUST SELL FOR FUN TO FRIENDS OUT OF MY APT.

Is there any correlation between your paintings and your clothing designs?

PEOPLE WHO KNOW BOTH MY CLOTHING AND MY ART WORK SAY THAT THE EXUBERANT SENSE OF COLOR AND THE TEXTURES ARE VERY MUCH LIKE MY PAINTINGS. ALSO THE ELEMENT OF TIME. MY PAINTINGS TAKE ABOUT TWO ARE MORE YEARS TO COMPLETE EACH ONE.

Our buyer, Anne Godshall loves to tell the story of how you came to sell your designs at AsiaStore. Can you tell us the story in your own words?

I CAME BACK TO NEW YORK CITY FROM THAILAND A WEEK BEFORE THE 9/11 TRAGEDY. WHEN 9/11 HAPPENED, SINCE I HAD BEEN FREELANCING, ALL OF MY PROJECTS – MY ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME FELL APART. AND I HAD SPENT ALL MY MONEY WHILE TRAVELLING IN THAILAND AND I THINK BURMA AT THAT TIME. I WAS A MEMBER OF THE ASIA SOCIETY, AND FRIEND ENCOURAGED ME TO BRING SOME DESIGNS TO SHOW TO ASIASTORE. I RESISTED FOR AWHILE, BUT THEN THOUGHT WHY NOT GIVE IT A TRY? I SHOWED UP WITH A BIG GARBAGE BAG OF THE COCOONS, WITH VERY FEW EXPECTATIONS AND ANNE OFFERED TO DISPLAY THEM ON THE PRESENT WALL (I BELIEVE ORIGINALLY THAT WALL WAS MEANT FOR ANTIQUES.) WELL, THE COCOONS FOUND AN AUDIENCE RIGHT AWAY IT SEEMS AND 6 YEARS LATER, SALES STILL SEEM TO BE GOING STRONG!

You have an interesting way of taking old world production techniques and design and using it in a very contemporary way. How has your Asian background influenced your designs?

I LIKE THE SIMPLICITY OF ASIAN GARMENTS. THE WRAP OR THE SIMPLE LINES, PARTICULARLY WHEN THEY ARE LAID OUT FLAT ON THE TABLE. THERE IS SOMETHING VERY BEAUTIFUL AND SERENE ABOUT THEM WHEN THEY ARE LAID OUT FLAT ALMOST LIKE FLOOR PLANS. I GREW UP AROUND THAI SILK SINCE MY MOTHER ALWAYS HAD BEAUTIFUL THAI SILK DRESSES MADE. I ALSO USE TO LOVE TO GO TO SILK STORES WITH HER. THE INDIAN MARKET IN BANGKOK WHERE THEY SELL FABRICS IS SUCH A FUN PLACE TO VISIT. WATCHING THE WEAVERS IN NORTHERN THAILAND WEAVE THE SILK THREAD BY THREAD ALWAYS FASCINATED ME! AND TO THINK THAT THIS BEAUTIFUL PRODUCT COMES FROM A RATHER UNATTRACTIVE CREATURE LIKE THE SILK WORM.

Your Mandarin Cocoon jackets are incredible. One size really does fit all and the colors are spectacular. Rumor has it that it takes one week to produce the 50 yards of silk for each jacket. Is this true? Can you tell us more about the production process that goes into your designs?

IT TAKES ONE WEEK TO WEAVE 50 YARDS OF SILK SINCE IT IS STILL WOVEN ON THE OLD FASHION HAND LOOM. HENCE THE LITTLE KNOTS FROM TIME TO TIME. IT TAKES ABOUT ONE WHOLE DAY TO CONSTRUCT ONE COCOON JACKET. THE ELASTIC IS ACTUALLY SEWN ONTO THE SILK AFTER IT IS WOVEN. IF THIS WAS HIGH TECH WEAVING THEN I GUESS IT WOULD BE A MUCH SIMPLER PROCESS, BUT I DO LIKE THE HANDS OWN AND VERY HANDMADE ASPECT OF THE COCOONS. PRODUCTION IS KEPT SMALL. LUCKILY SO FAR I HAVE A “RECOGNIZABLE PRODUCT THAT SELLS ITSELF”–AND I HOPE THEY CONTINUE TO SELL SINCE THE INCOME HAS BEEN MOST HELPFUL FOR ME AS AN ARTIST.

What does it mean to you to have your designs sold at AsiaStore at the Asia Society and Museum?

I AM VERY FLATTERED AND VERY HAPPY TO HAVE MY DESIGNS AT THE BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE ASIASTORE. (THANKS TO ANNE!) AND TO THINK THAT THIS IS YEAR NUMBER SIX MAKES IT ALL THE MORE UNREAL. I DID NOT THINK THAT THE COCOONS WOULD LAST THIS LONG BUT IT SEEMS LIKE THE INTEREST JUST CONTINUES TO GROW.

Thanks Richard!
Be sure to visit AsiaStore at Asia Society and Museum to view and purchase Richard Tsao’s designs. Check back at the AsiaStore Blog where we will be posting interviews with our Asian American Designers throughout the month of May.

May is Asian American Heritage Month


Throughout the month of May, we will be bringing you interviews with some of AsiaStore’s most exciting Asian American designers. In addition, be sure to stop by AsiaStore at Asia Society and Museum to view and purchase the work of these very talented individuals.

AsiaStore Buying Trip: Day 4 Srinagar Kashmir

Follow AsiaStore’s Chief Merchandising Officer Anne Godshall as she scouts out the latest design talent in Asia.

While batteries for my camera have been located…the hair dryer is proving to be a bit more elusive. Despite the lack of a fresh coiffure, I am off to the market place…

Did I mention that I found a reliable source for diet coke!! I was beginning to despair, but next to the textile shop there was a beverage dealer….I stocked up. I’m feeling energized just holding the chilled can!

I visited another textiles shop and found more cotton blouses with chainstich embroidery accents…much more affordable than yesterday’s stop. Looking to coordinate the blouses with a grouping of summer weight embroidered shawls. This collection is turning out to be the perfect summertime accent…be sure and stop by AsiaStore before you head out to the beach!

From there it’s back to paper mache, where I found a lovely wide cuff, that you are going to love. I worked with the owner to select several designs, all in beautiful gold tones, that will be custom made for the store.

More paper mache. The owner of another company picked me up and took me downtown to their warehouse. As we depart, my friend tells the driver, (jokingly, I hope) to watch out for bombs…this better be good paper mache!! The warehouse/studio was filled with every design imaginable, both finished and raw goods. The owner educated me on the paper mache process and afterward we rummaged through the shelves for pieces for the fall collection. My heart is set on paisleys, so we kept our focus there and found some lovely gold leaf pieces…unfortunately a bit pricey. We’ll have to work on that…

AsiaStore Buying Trip: 2nd Stop Srinagar Kashmir

Follow AsiaStore’s Chief Merchandising Officer Anne Godshall as she scouts out the latest design talent in Asia.

The taxi ride to the airport is a bit harrowing (note: there’s 25% surcharge for air conditioning!) An open air vehicle almost takes off my door as I attempt to get out of the cab. No worries, everyone walks away, and the door still closes!


The flight was a bit delayed, so I’m going to have to pick up the pace! Tariq Kathwari is there to meet me at the airport and guide me through the Srinagar marketplace. He takes me to his studio, where a group from Denmark is interested in purchasing some rugs. Tariq’s studio is on the main drag, so from there I head out to the shops. Paper mache, chainstich, needlework, walnut wood carvings and copper are among the key handicrafts I’ll be scouting out. I begin with Paper Mache and spot a great colorful paisley design that I intend to have applied to a variety of shapes. The production process will take about 3 months to complete, but the results will be well worth the wait! From there I move on to textiles. Beautiful chainstich embroidered shawls and jackets. I especially liked the blouses, in both cotton and silk which have been accented with chainstich embroidery. They’ll make a great addition to your summer wardrobe!

I’ve run into a bit of technical difficulty…no wireless connection at the hotel. As a matter of fact no air conditioning, no air dryer…need I say more?! And my camera batteries have decided to konk out…not an easy task to locate lithium batteries in the Srinagar marketplace, but the concierge of my hotel works a miracle. It looks like I’ll be able to start posting images again tomorrow!

AsiaStore Buying Trip: Day 2 Delhi

Follow AsiaStore’s Chief Merchandising Officer Anne Godshall as she scouts out the latest designs in Asia.


It’s another hot one today…topping the charts at 43c. I’m afraid to ask what that translates to in Fahrenheit! My friends Meenu and her daughter are joining me for today’s excursion. First stop is the Crescent, a beautiful shopping plaza, housing India’s elite designers, including Satya Paul (an AsiaStore exclusive in the US) Manish Arora and Namrata Joshipura (also names you’ve seen at AsiaStore) The collections are a blend of eastern and western silhouettes…with a style that is uniquely Indian.


From there we are off to Dilli Haat, an open air marketplace, featuring a wide array of Indian handicrafts. Just inside the gates, I spot a grouping of beautiful melange silk shawls. Unfortunately, the color selection is a bit limited and I’m not convinced that the price is quite right, so best to wait. On to bangles, where Meenu instructs me on the art of bangle buying. We browse through more of the stalls and sure enough we find more of the melange silk shawls in great colors. After some lively negotiations, we walk away with a beautiful assortment of silks at 40% less than the original price quote! We continue to browse, stopping to cool off using some clever handmade fans. As we enter the jewelry section, I notice some beautiful glass bead bracelets.. Unfortunately there’s not enough quantity. As Meenu translates my disappointment, the owner reaches down and pulls out a plastic tub filled with glass beads. We selected the colors we want and he proceeded to make the bracelets as we waited. You’re going to love them ! By then we were all a bit verwhelmed by the heat, so we headed to Khan market, an outdoor strip center of sorts, where we stopped for a bite to eat. Meenu’s daughter selected a restaurant called The Big Chill, it’s a popular spot featuring great pizzas, pastas and sandwiches…if you go, be sure to sure to try and shakes and save room for desert!


Back to the hotel with just enough time to take a quick swim before being whisked off to the Carpet Cellar, where I met with Nishant and Dhruv Chandra, to view their collection of antique and reproduction textiles. Nishant educates me on the various qualities of wool, pashmina and wool/silk blends, introducing me to their proprietary Sahmina fiber which is an environmentally friendly alternative to the Shatoosh, the lightest, warmest fabric, derivded from the Tibetan antelope.


But it’s the silk embroideries that catch my eye. Dhruv explains that the work is so fine, it can take up to 2 years to complete one shawl. And a small section of embroidery can take up to a day to execute. I’m also intrigued by the pashmina/silk blends featuring damask and ombre patterning…”must haves” for the fall assortment.

It’s getting a bit late and I’m growing a bit weary. Time to head back to the hotel and get packed as I’m off to Kasmir tomorrow morning

AsiaStore Buying Trip: 1st Stop Delhi!

Follow AsiaStore’s Chief Merchandising Officer Anne Godshall as she scouts out the latest design talent in Asia.

If it’s Saturday this must be Delhi! Despite a midnight arrival and an early, early am trek to the hotel, I’m feeling pretty good…I have my #60 sun block on and am ready to brave the 100+ degree temperatures!

First stop is Kavita Bhartia’s studio.
Kavita is the mastermind behind, Ogaan, the incredible designer boutique, dedicated to showcasing Indian design and fashion. More recently Kavita has launched 2 new boutiques, featuring her own label. Kavita’s collections have previewed at pret a porter and can be found at a number of exclusive European boutiques. Her work is is eclectic and innovative, incorporating trendy western silhouettes with age old Indian techniques such as block printing and hand embroidery….perfect for AsiaStore!

We began by selecting a summer grouping of traditionally styled Jhola and Potli bags that were anything but traditional, featuring colorful block printing and beaded handwork. These one of a kind creations will be perfect for those Hampton afternoons. From there we moved on to fall and chose a fabulous grouping of metallic accessories. Block printed Jhola bags and “must have” metallic leathers… along with an inspired collection of textured scarves and shawls. Tattered silk blends adorned with metallic accents, stunning block prints on crushed silk and filmy chiffon silk combined with crochet edging are just a few of the highlights. And if that wasn’t enough, we glammed it up for holiday, selecting a dazzling group of heavily embellished, hand beaded Potli bags…the perfect accessory for your black tie gala.

With the AsiaStore collections nearly complete, I had to take a few minutes to play….who could resist those fabulous fashions! The skirts, the jackets, the decadent tops just beckoning to be tried on. We oohed and ahhed…it was great fun.

Knowing that you will love her creations as much as I do, I have convinced Kavita to bring a collection of her most unique and innovative pieces to preview at AsiaStore this fall!

Kavita is a designer to watch!!

AsiaStore’s Annual Buying Trip

If you are familiar with AsiaStore, you know about our commitment to finding and promoting emerging Asian and Asian American design talent.

Well once a year, AsiaStore’s Buyer Anne Godshall heads to Asia for several weeks to scout out the very best of Asian design.
Here at AsiaStore, we wait in anticipation for Anne’s packages full of products to arrive. When they do, the excitement of opening the boxes can only be compared to that of Christmas morning. We never know what treasures will be inside!

This year, Anne will be blogging in real time, so that we can all have the pleasure of following her on her buying trip to Asia.
You’ll be meeting the designers behind the products, learning about how they are made, and seeing the products before they hit the selling floor at AsiaStore. Be sure to check back soon to follow Anne on her buying adventure in Asia!