Tag Archives: NYC

Filipino Designer Sale Event: Rafe Totengco


Last Thursday, we had a Filipino designer sale event featuring the amazing Rafe Totengco. Rafe always surprises us with his fathomless creativity. Customers were in love with his sophisticated yet edgy shell minaudieres.

Here’s a brief interview we carried out during the event:

AsiaStore: When and how did you realize that you have a talent in designing?
Rafe: I’ve been drawing since I was a very young boy. I sketched before I could even speak, so I think it was sort of inevitable for me to end up doing something creative, and designing accessories was just another outlet for my creativity.

AsiaStore: Tell me about how your Filipino-American background influenced and inspired your current collection.
Rafe: Even though your background and upbringing definitely shape you, it doesn’t necessarily specifically influence one collection or another. It really reflects my own personal history and my own personal taste. So it’s not necessarily like being Filipino influences this collection, but it’s much more the fact that the collection is proudly made in the Philippines, utilizing raw materials from the Philippines.

AsiaStore: What is your design philosophy?
Rafe: I think my design philosophy is really to create things that are going to be classics, things that you are going to want to own and pass on as keepsakes. I want to design pieces that are iconic so that when you wear them, you feel really happy that they are specially hand-crafted, and not owned by a lot of people. My pieces are painstakingly time-consuming to make, so I don’t produce a lot of them. As a result, they are sort of limited-editions.


AsiaStore: What does it mean to you to have your designs sold at AsiaStore at the Asia Society?
Rafe: It’s a great compliment and I am very proud that I am included in a wonderfully curated location, and to be included in a really fantastic roster of Asian or Asian American designers.

Thank you all for supporting and attending the event! Stay tuned for more great designer events this Fall season! SHOP Rafe’s collection at: http://asiastore.org/designer-page/rafe/

Cultural Heritage as a Source of Inspiration


(source: Asia Society New York Blog)

To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, AsiaStore is highlighting Asian American designers and authors for the month of May with an expanded collection of products. Shop the collection online at any time throughout the month or at our New York store location from Monday through Sunday, 11:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Fridays until 9:00 pm.

We asked five of our featured designers, “How has your Asian American heritage influenced your work as a designer?” Here’s what they shared:


As a Chinese American artist, I am most influenced by my culture’s deep respect and esteem for nature. This can be seen throughout my work – from the eco-friendly materials (bamboo, stainless steel, recycled sterling silver) to the painted designs.


I am Chinese, but have experienced a cross-cultural environment since my younger years. Moving to Hawaii over 40 years ago added Hawaiian, Asian American, Pacific, and other influences and cultures. Designing has always been my first love. My love of designing jewelry started at a very young age from hanging around jewelry shops with my mother. While working in Shanghai ten years ago, I had the opportunity to learn Chinese knotting, which gave me the idea to combine an Asian look with semi-precious stones and pearls to produce wearable fashionable jewelry. Throughout the years of traveling and the love of jewelry, I have collected ideas and inspirations from every corner of the world.


Designing for me was not planned; it was a process that was inspired by both of my heritages. As a Colombian I take on the pre-Colombian earthy powerful influences of gold makers, and from the Ottomans the strength shown through elegant, magnificent, and sophisticated jewelry. My work is a true re-creation of what my Asian American heritage is, and I hope for the wearer to feel and enjoy the honesty of my creations.


In my opinion two main things reflect into your brand, whether you like it or not: your personality and your culture. From the beginning, one main goal has remained the foundation of my clothing line: how can I bring my culture into a modern and practical world and make it cool? To do this, I had to mix the right dosage of my culture with New York and cook something that is in the right balance.


I was born in Iran and grew up on Alborz mountain slopes. I have lived and studied in New York as an architect for the last 30 years. Balancing the two worlds has been an integral part of my life growing up. My fashion brand, Cityzen by Azin, has allowed me to explore and connect with these two worlds.

As an Iranian American, a global traveler and a New Yorker, my international and multicultural experiences have culminated in the vision behind Cityzen: exposing the breathtaking views of the Earth, sharing our commonality, and bridging our differences.

Check out our Facebook page for photos of our Asian American Designer Showcase!