JKOO’s world injects an unhinged, innocent guile into the underbelly extravagance of Korea’s emerging fashion scene. Growing up glued to the arts, the designer’s mother made sure she took in plenty of handmade influences in the form of ceramics, painting and textiles. Her signature frayed “V” shape notifies the world that this brand is not just a lifestyle commodity, but also a timeless nod to luxury sportswear in the form of jettisoned prints and chromatic colors that shape the designers’ vision of a gender-neutral utopian future. So effectively has JKOO solved the problem of presenting womenswear and menswear together, that the need to define, justify and pander to those outside her vision are rendered obsolete.
The elements of abstraction, metaphor and contrast create a silhouette that is perfectly aligned with modularity without being too minimal and antiseptic. While comfort is key, JKOO produces designs that are far from laidback pieces. It’s within those sneaky pleats, clever prints, loose fabrics and clunky, chunky colors that the ingredients of fiery confidence and edge will ultimately give the wearer a much needed ingredient for daily life: a departure from modern mediocrity.
Tell me about your upbringing, childhood and fashion history. When did you know you wanted to design?
All of my family does art. My father paints, my mother does all different kinds of arts — painting, fashion and ceramic — and my sister does ceramic art. My mother is kind of the director in my family. I remember when I was five-years-old, my mother and I used to go to the textile store, and she would let me select the fabric. That is my first experience in fashion design. I still remember some clothing she made for me.
When I was a child, I did not know I want to be fashion designer. I just liked clothing a lot. But, one day, it just happened that I was studying fashion design.
Has any of this influenced you as a designer?
Definitely my mother. I grew up watching my mother making patterns and sewing.
You’re combined expert knowledge in menswear is what allows you to pursue a rather unconventional method. Tell us about how these methods have helped you along the way?
When I design clothing, I do not actually try to put menswear knowledge on womenswear. I think it is naturally exposed on the garment because I studied menswear first.
Some designers believe in the power of monochromatic palettes. Your brand applies a refreshing use of vivid colors and aesthetics. What motivates your use of color?
I am very interested in other fields of art. And their colors, shapes, textures and structures have an influence on me.
Oversized sweaters with geometric prints drive the Autumn/Winter 2015 collection. Tell me about this concept.
I was reading an arts magazine and the curator said ‘If you take the sign away, there is no place’. This sentence inspired me to think about relations in two and three dimensions.
“We look forward to see and imagine the future, but the past can exist after the future.”
The “V” prints that appear in most of your collections almost act as a logo for JKOO. What inspired this?
I started to use this in my Spring/Summer 2015 collection. I was looking at tennis wear that has a V shape on the front. And I was making it more obvious by playing around with it on the garments.
Frayed edges, fuzzy diagonals and splatters of texture hint at playfulness in most of your collections. Why is the element of play so important to your work?
Contrast, metaphor and abstract are the key elements for my collections.
Is your brand one that is concerned with the future or one that wants to take the best elements from the past and combine them?
We look forward to see and imagine the future, but the past can exist after the future. All great archives from the past have influences on us.
What kind of man or woman do you imagine in your clothes?
Someone who has pure self-confidence.
Which is more difficult, designing the womenswear or menswear collection?
It is just a different area of design. There is an invisible circular line, which divides menswear and womenswear. Menswear is playing inside the circle and womenswear is playing outside of it.
What kinds of creative obstacles do you face with every collection?
How do you conquer them?
Make a possible schedule!