YEOJA Mag - Interview with South Korean fashion designer Seungyun

Seungyun (승연)

Interview with the up-and-coming fashion designer from Seoul

Seungyun (승연) is an up-and-coming fashion designer, born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. She moved to London to study Fashion Design in Marangoni, and is currently completing her last year in Paris.

Her designs, that range from crochet and muted colours to bubbly bold and vibrant shapes, have started to find a voice in the queer BIPOC communities of London.

Hey Seungyun, could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
Seungyun: Hi, I’m a young fashion designer from South Korea who moved to England when I was twelve. At the moment I’m still a uni student. I’m graduating next year, which is super exciting. At the moment, I post my little projects and collections on my Instagram @seungyun_cho, but I’m also hoping to have a website soon.

YEOJA Mag - Interview with South Korean fashion designer Seungyun
Image courtesy of Seungyun

When did you start fashion design? And where did/do you practice it?
Seungyun: To be dramatic, I would say I started fashion design when I was nine in South Korea. I read a book about Coco Chanel and how she changed the fashion industry, and I thought to myself, “If she can do it, so can I!” My mother is absolutely the best for listening to my younger self and looking for a fashion designer teacher for me. I met my teacher, she saw the spark in me, and decided to teach me pattern cutting, illustration, sewing, weaving, crochet, and all sorts of stuff. She was amazing. She also taught me English and helped me with the process of studying abroad. If it wasn’t for her and my parents, I wouldn’t be here. So, I first practiced fashion design in South Korea, then in London and now in Paris.

What and who inspires you in your creations?
Seungyun: When I think about a lot of the ideas I come up with, it’s always personally linked to me and my childhood. An example is my bubble tea collection. Bubbles had this nostalgic feeling for me, because they were reminders of the characters I used to draw a lot. One of the characters controlled the dreams which were depicted as bubbles. I don’t know… I need to ask ten year old me about this! As you can see, the child-like and adventurous mind inspires me.

YEOJA Mag - Interview with South Korean fashion designer Seungyun
Image courtesy of Seungyun

I also love the ocean. I didn’t grow up near the sea, but the idea of it as vast and mysterious fascinates me. This is the same with outer space. I love the deepness of it, and the idea of a void somewhat comforts me. The idea of space, void, and lonesomeness come down to me and my existence. There’s only myself, who is alone and it creates a deeper connection to my identity and roots. I also always try to stay close to my culture and tradition to get inspired. I struggle a lot with resonating with one thing/style so I decided that I would just be inspired by everything.

What material do you like to use?
Seungyun: My teacher works closely with yarn, so I grew up near it and created little things with it. I’ve been working with crochet a lot with my brand because of the yarn I still had from years ago.

YEOJA Mag - Interview with South Korean fashion designer Seungyun
Image courtesy of Seungyun

What is your favourite piece of work?
Seungyun: I have a few favourites. I love the White Coral crochet dress because of how flexible it can be with sizes as it’s so stretchy. My next favourite one is the Blue Corals jumpsuit because of the details. When I make crochet garments I don’t really plan it mathematically, I just do as I go along. The outcome [for these projects] was so satisfying and made me proud.

You have lived in a few different cities. Please tell us where you’ve lived so far, and how the different cultures you have experienced influenced you and your work?
Seungyun: In South Korea, the western world is very romanticised and idealised. So when I was young I was excited to study abroad and probably wanted to get lost in it… embarrassing to say. When I was in East Sussex for my GCSEs and A levels, I didn’t really get to explore any culture because I was in the countryside. So when I was doing textile research development, I always looked back to my culture.

When I came to London, it was an eye opening experience for me to encounter so many different cultures and styles. I was lost for a short period of time with what my style is and what inspiration I should look for, as I just loved everything. This brought me to the same realisation that I should stay close to my culture and go deep into my identity. Within my work I definitely stick to my culture as a concept, but the silhouette of the garments can always change depending on the trend.

Being in London definitely changed the way I present my work. I am now in Paris and it has only been a month so I’m excited to see what it will bring to me. Probably some luxury!

YEOJA Mag - Interview with South Korean fashion designer Seungyun
Image courtesy of Seungyun

Where would you like to go next?
Seungyun: I would love to possibly go to New York. I need to do more research but it seems like there are fun fashion scenes going on there all the time.

Do people perceive your work differently depending on the country? Did people in South Korea think of your work differently than people in London or Paris?
Seungyun: I don’t actually have an audience in South Korea except for my family which is funny. They did think my latest work was revealing, but also beautiful and unique – which makes me happy. People from London and Paris were similar in a way they never really cared about how revealing they were.

YEOJA Mag - Interview with South Korean fashion designer Seungyun
Image courtesy of Seungyun

How do you experience the fashion industry as a POC woman?
Seungyun: I think a lot of POC small designers don’t get the hype and audience they deserve. I have friends with their own small business brands and they work so consistently and hard but still don’t get the spotlight they deserve. Especially when there are bigger mass producing companies stealing other small businesses designs and gaining more followers and admirers. It is so unfortunate and sad. As I’m still a small designer and inconsistent because I’m still a student, I haven’t had my design stolen yet. I hope people will stop supporting mass production.

What could be changed to make the industry more inclusive? How are you working towards inclusivity?
Seungyun: I think a main way for me to achieve inclusivity, is to embrace my own culture and hope that it will reach many people in the future where they accept my work and myself. I also keep raising awareness on my social media, but it’s not enough. In the future when I have a larger audience, I would love to embrace other POC designers. I would also love to collaborate with people from different backgrounds and stories to really understand their work.

YEOJA Mag - Interview with South Korean fashion designer Seungyun
Portrait courtesy of Seungyun

What are the next projects you are working on?
Seungyun: I will be focusing on my graduate collection as I won’t have a personal life anymore due to the amount of work. I will be working closely with my roots again. This final year will be the year of diving into my history. After graduation I’m actually not sure if I want to focus completely on my brand or gain more experience from different companies.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Seungyun: I see so many possibilities. The most certain thing that I know is that I´ll be happy. I am obviously happy and grateful now but I just know this feeling will carry on in five years. There will be a lot of ups and downs, but I’ll still be grateful to be standing where I am.

To follow Seungyun on Instagram, click here. To read more interviews about South Korean artists, click here.