Chou didn’t have much time to enjoy her performances, however: the next day, a gunman entered three Atlanta spas and murdered eight people, six of them Asian women. Reading the news made Chou’s stomach sink. “It’s whiplash, right?” Says Chou. “To see movies like Minari, directors like Lee Isaac Chung and Chloe Zhao, producers like Christina Oh, everyone breaks through that bamboo ceiling of the Academy Awards. And then, less than a day later, we get stuck in this terrible discourse of: is this a hate crime? And, oh, he’s had a bad day. You think, wow, we made no progress at all. “
For Chou and her Goodfight co-founders, the immediate aftermath of the tragedy was a time of reflection and recovery. It was also a reminder of why they started the label in the first place. “We always struggled with these questions,” says Chou. “We always took the microaggressions away. We have always lived in between – neither white nor black, neither Asian nor American – and turned it into a creative medium to tell our stories. “
As a brand, Goodfight talks a lot about what it feels like to be part of the Asian diaspora: it’s nebulous and difficult to define, impossible to categorize. The aesthetic is a bit of high fashion and a bit of streetwear, a bit of punk rock and a bit of hip-hop, clean and elevated and at the same time grungy and raw. The clothing itself is mainly characterized by a lasting feeling of joy. “The last thing we ask is always, is it fun?” Says Lin. The fabrics are often bold and outdoor and sometimes vintage. Practically every piece has a clever twist: a silky button-up with a crescent-shaped half-moon hem that you can tie on the sides or in the front, a zip-up hoodie that Optimus Primes fits into a crew-neck sweater. Goodfight’s Instagram biography reads “Third Culture Kids” – like its founders, the label exists in what Lin describes as “this beautiful border area where all these different worlds collide”.
Lin, Chu and Nguyen met at the retail opening ceremony in Los Angeles in the early 2010s. “It was so much fun working with people who made fun of clothes just like me, you know?” Chu remembers. “A new jacket would come in and we’d try them all on, look at every detail and talk about the designer.” A few years later, the trio reunited at American Rag, where Lin and Chu were in charge of purchasing men’s and women’s clothing. Meanwhile, Nguyen designed the LA institution’s trademark.
It was around this time that the four friends met for weekly dinners where they expressed frustration with the corporate culture and dreamed of finding their own way forward. To start something that they could name themselves. “When you work in these larger structures, you can only make so many changes,” says Chou. “Starting a clothing brand was the fastest way to get something tangible from our brains into our hands and into the world.”
It was from these meetings that Goodfight emerged, and the fact that it happened to coincide with the start of the Trump presidency made the creation of the brand all the more urgent. “I remember my mom saying to me, ‘This is probably not a good time to start a business,’” recalls Lin. “It was very Chinese advice. I said to her, “The struggle we’re going through, everything the country is going through politically, all the things people are angry about, is the result of our culture moving to this place where it doesn’t matter how you win as long as you win. And we don’t damn well believe that. ‘That’s why we started the company and it’s called Goodfight. “