Happy Hmong New Year: A celebration of fashion, culture and community

Multiple looks debut down the fashion show runway in celebration of Hmong New Year on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Models are dressed head to toe in different ensembles that represent the culture. (Visual made on Canva by Alyssa Branum)

Multiple looks debut down the fashion show runway in celebration of Hmong New Year on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Models are dressed head to toe in different ensembles that represent the culture. (Visual made on Canva by Alyssa Branum)

Elizabeth Meza and Hailey Valdivia

Helping Mentor Our Next Generation, a program supporting Hmong student success at Sacramento State, hosted a cultural celebration in appreciation of the Hmong New Year at the University Ballroom on Monday, Nov. 14. 

The event consisted of cultural performances, community recognition and a fashion show by Hill Tribe Fusion for the Sac State community. Attendees were encouraged to wear Hmong attire and cultural artifacts. 

Multiple community members gave speeches, including city council member Mai Vang , founder of Hmong Innovating Politics. 

Vang spoke about honoring Hmong leaders who came before them, the advocators who fought to get them here today, and the current trail blazers in the program and Hmong community.

Hosts Dr. Vang, Andrew Yang, and Angelina Xiong welcome all in attendance at the Hmong New Year celebration in the Union Ballroom on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. The celebration included handing out awards and scholarships to the recipients and different live performances before ending the event with a fashion show of Hmong clothing. (Alyssa Branum) 

“As the first Hmong elected official, I am so proud to represent my city, my community, in a city with 30,000 Hmong folks,” Yang said. “It’s very fitting that we are celebrating Hmong New Year at a university, getting your education is the door to opening so many opportunities.” 

The last part of the celebration was the cultural fashion show, which showcased traditional and more modern Hmong clothes. 

Performers reciting a poem in a traditional Hmong hymn in Sac State’s Union Ballroom during the Hmong new years event on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Other performances included dancers, a guitar player and a more traditional instrument called a qeej for the crowd to enjoy between awards. (Alyssa Branum)

The fashion show was executed by organizations Hmong Youth and Parent United, along with Hill Tribe Fusion, a sister duo of fashion designers Mang and Shang Thao. 

Fashion model Rosey Vang, 22, has modeled with Hill Tribe three times before the Hmong New Year celebration. Vang said that Hill Tribe reached out to her through Facebook.

Rosey Vang standing outside the Union Ballroom on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, wearing a symbolic bright floral ensemble paired with silver jewelry for the Hmong Fashion Show. Those who participated in the Hmong Fashion Show were each given a unique look that ties into traditional Hmong New Year honorings. (Alyssa Branum)

Although Vang is not a student at Sac State, she said she likes to partake in these fashion shows because they allow her to connect with other people. The Hmong New Year event was the first time Vang had modeled at a university.

“I enjoyed it because I get to meet people from different places,” Vang said. “It’s nice to see friends, family and the community here at a college.”

Vang also mentioned some clothing has cultural significance. She pointed out that some of the designs on the dress she wore looked like snails which symbolize family. 

Angelina Xiong, a fourth-year child and adolescent development major, co-hosted the event while dressed in Hmong attire. Xiong said Project HMONG wanted to highlight Hmong vendors and unite the community. 

“This is around the time when we celebrate Hmong New Year,” Xiong said. “It’s a time where everyone mingles so you want to dress your best.” 

Angelina Xiong, a co-host of the Hmong New Year celebration, standing outside the Union Ballroom after the event Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Xiong said the silver money pieces on Hmong dress are part of long standing traditions of the culture and why many others wear it too. (Alyssa Branum)

Andrew Yang, the first Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Center Coordinator, helped organize the event. Yang explained the traditional celebration of the Hmong New Year was to honor the new harvest and now has become a celebration of culture and community. 

“Traditional Hmong New Year is gathering with your family, worshiping your ancestors, celebrating with food, showcasing clothing and playing traditional music,” Yang said. 

Andrew Yang outside the Hmong New Year event he helped organize in the Union Ballroom after the Hmong Fashion Show on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. He emphasized the importance of getting the Hmong community together for celebrations and showcasing their culture. (Alyssa Branum)

Yang said the fashion show was an opportunity for the Hmong community to highlight the uniqueness of their culture, the different influences throughout generations and the evolution of their fashion. 

One vendor attending the event was Hora Xiong. She runs a small business called HoraXCreations, where she sells jewelry and sweaters. 

Xiong said she started her business in 2019 as a hobby and then went full-time last year. 

“It’s important to have this event because it’s important for other people to know our culture and I feel like this is a good opportunity for Hmong artists as well,” Xiong said. 

Dr. Chao Danny Vang, director of Educational Equity Access and Equity Strategist Division of Student Affairs, helped coordinate the event. He described the coordination of the fashion show as coming from the ground up.

“Each of the models are either alumni of the university, current students or high school students, including some youths as well,” said Vang. “We wanted to highlight the change in fashion in China to Southeast Asia to more modern here in America.”

Dr. Chao Vang, one of the coordinators for the Hmong New Year celebration, standing outside the event in the University Union Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Vang said he enjoys events such as this and being able to honor the holiday and its meanings. (Alyssa Branum)

Vang said it was important to highlight the holiday during a season of celebration.

Along with Christmas and Thanksgiving, the Hmong New Year is an opportunity to feel grateful and give back, he said.

“You know, we are a people without a country. So this celebration reminds us of our identity but also fosters a place of belonging for our Hmong students, Hmong parents, and Hmong community here in Sacramento,” Vang said.