CantoSoul is a sustainable clothing brand based in Hong Kong, co-founded by Jasmine and Justin Cheung.
Jasmine Cheung was born in Los Angeles, the United States and grew up in Hong Kong for most of her life. She attended Northeastern University in Boston, where she studied international affairs. It was during her stay in the US that she realised there is a lack of Asian representation in pop culture, arts, fashion and media.
Growing up, she has always loved cheongsam and appreciated the intricacies of the designs, but she also felt restricted that people can only wear it once a year (during Lunar New Year). Therefore, with the help of her older brother Justin Cheung, they launched CantoSoul in the summer of 2019 to provide casual, and fashionable everyday wears to people.
They also hoped that it would bring a sense of comfort and familiarity for the Asian-Americans who have never owned or incorporate Asian-style clothing in their wardrobe. Rooted in inspirations of minimalism and modernisation, CantoSoul is the manifestation of Jasmine and Justin’s search for identity – a mixture of Eastern and Western cultures, and of traditional and modernised concepts.
To some, perhaps there isn’t anything particularly special or transformative about our cheongsams. After all, our designs are minimalist, plain and simple. We’re not selling crazily fancy and innovative cheongsams, but the simpleness is just one of our unique selling points and is the backbone of our designs. The most ‘transformative’ part of our cheongsam is that you can incorporate any of our designs into your daily wardrobe. Night out? Yes! Lunch with your friends? Wear it. Casual Friday work attire? Do it. We want to transform the way people see cheongsams – a piece of clothes you wear once a year. You can wear it all 365 days of the year if you want to.
The inspiration behind CantoSoul stems from a combination of love and admiration for the aesthetics of cheongsams but also the lack of Asian representation in mainstream media in the United States.
Even though I grew up in Hong Kong, I still mainly consumed pop culture and media in the US. I didn’t see enough Asian representation, and when Asians were represented it was often done in a way that either fetishised or mocked Asian people. After watching Crazy Rich Asians, a film that featured an all-Asian casts, it left me a feeling of pride and happiness. I wanted to replicate this exact feeling and share it to other people through our clothing.