When you read that the schedule for the inaugural Hmong Nouveau event has a fashion show from 7 to 9 p.m., you might think that two hours sound like a lot. But there’s a lot to take in. Five Hmong fashion designers will be showcasing collections on the runway, with each model being accompanied by one of five Hmong musician acts. It’s a grand production, made even more so by the red-carpet entrance, the Canadian-Hmong rock band Sudden Rush, surprise guest performers, the after-party, and the launch of a new magazine, all at St. Paul’s Union Depot on February 15.
Co-founders Steph Chang and Steele Steel met when Chang moved to the Twin Cities in 2019. As Chang tells it, they met at a friend’s gathering, connected a few days later, and quickly realized their various individual passions—which included fashion shows, marketing, and technology—dovetailed. “I told Steele that one of my reasons for moving to the Twin Cities was to insert myself into the community as well as to find a place where I belong and where I can make a difference,” Chang says. “When we talked about the event and the magazine, they were two separate things we wanted to do, but the more we talked about it, the more things started falling together.”
And so Hmong Nouveau grew to become not only a celebration of Hmong culture but the launch of a digital marketing and publication company. With the event comes the first issue of their new magazine, called Nouveau Avenue.
“The magazine is focused a lot around art, entertainment, music, fashion, culture, people and travel, so this entire event that we’re putting on encompasses all of that,” says Chang, adding that the magazine will have a local focus and include all Southeast Asian cultures, not just Hmong heritage. “We want to be able to emphasize every single model, every single designer, every single performer that plays a part in the show.”
Besides the fashion and music show, there will be booths featuring Hmong food vendors (rising star, TPT food show host, and Union Kitchen chef Yia Vang will be there) and local designers, such as XIXO Menswear and Exotic Creations by Her jewelry. Print versions of the inaugural quarterly issue will be available at the event, and the other three issues will be published digitally.