Aussie fashion designer combines luxe design with Fairtrade practices

By Maria Kyriacou

Khim Hang in his studio. Image: The Urban List
Khim Hang in his studio. Image: The Urban List
Young designer showing at Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week pays homage to his heritage while paying his Cambodian workers double the minimum wage

The Khim Hang of today is a winning combination of luxe minimalism, with strong ethical workplaces practices, but it was humble beginnings for the young designer.

“I know what it’s like to struggle, I know what it’s like to be poor,” Hang said.

The man at the helm of label Han, missed out on a lot of childhood experiences growing up. He was always waiting around for his hardworking parents to shut the Brisbane café they opened after fleeing Cambodia’s Pol Pot regime, which saw his father lose five of his seven siblings at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

Hang’s history has left an indelible impression, which he has parlayed into a commitment to help his Cambodian workers. Hang’s staff working in his Phnom Penh factory have access to a childcare facility, an unusual bonus even in the Western world. They are also paid double the minimum wage.

Finding inspiration in his culture and heritage, he has described his latest collection, as an ode to his French Cambodian ancestry.

“I’ve been doing a lot of research about Cambodia in the 1960s… and for me it’s a reinterpretation of what this culture once was, and what it is now.”

The young boy who turned up his nose at his parents’ advice to work hard and become a doctor has surely made them proud now. Hang says that although it sounds silly, he always wanted to be famous and started hand stitching clothes as a fourteen-year-old, showing the same determination that his parents did in forging a successful new life in Australia.

His brand HAN is now stocked in six countries and this is his second time showing at Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week.

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