Man with a Mission

Seoul Fashion Week is serious about becoming a global player so it has enlisted one of the country’s most famous designers Kuho Jung to be the executive director

Going by the name of Kuho, the new executive director of Seoul Fashion Week is a man who has been around the block. Growing up in Seoul, Kuho moved to New York in the late 80’s to study at Parson’s School of Design but like many a student in this era of fabulous New York City nightlife, Kuho was a regular on the dancefloors of Area, Palladium and the Roxy. Back then, drag queens and outrageously dressed club kids ruled the dancefloors and Kuho came away with a deep understanding that fashion is a means to communicate and the best way of personal expression.

The man himself: In Yamamoto and D.Gnaak. Seoul Fashion week
The man himself: In Yamamoto and D.Gnaak

Kuho returned to Korea and launched his own label in 1997. In 2003 he joined Samsung and has grown his label into one of the most influential women’s wear brands in Korea embracing music, dance, and art. Kuho was the costume designer for Lady MacBeth in 1998 and even contributed to documenta in Kassel in 2012 with fellow Korean visionaries Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho with a project called « El Fin del mundo. » He has shown his collection Hexa by Kuho during New York and Paris fashion week so he clearly has the international outlook required to bring a local fashion week from Seoul on the global radar. We caught up with him to find out more about his plans:

Achtung Digital: I remember meeting you in New York as a designer. Now you’re employed by the city of Seoul. What a change, tell me why?

Kuho: I have taken on this mission for the young Korean designers who are all very talented. When I was young there was simply no help.

AD: What are your plans?

K: We want to make Seoul Fashion Week the destination for the top collections in Asia. I have signed a contract for two years and my goal is to establish ten names of brands and designers who will make it on the international radar.

AD: What do you think makes the designers competitive?

K: You know we have a phenomenon called K Pop now. You remember well PSY and his hit Gangnam Style became a global hit. These K Pop stars and the new designers are very closely linked. They attend the shows, dress funky and it shows in the collections of the designers. It’s a very fruitful exchange. Only eight years ago young Korean kids were listening to foreign music and now it’s K Pop. So we need to seize that moment. Korean fashion is very hip and very young.

AD: This reminds me of a Neue Deutsche Welle in the 80’s where we all listened to only Nena and Trio.

K: Yes, exactly, even I remember hearing that music. I always found German culture very inspiring and interesting. I have collected Achtung Mode since its first issue for example.

 

90’s Paris spirit wafting through Low Classic show in Seoul. Seoul Fashion Week
90’s Paris spirit wafting through Low Classic show in Seoul

 

Judging from the quality of some of the collections presented in Seoul, Kuho might be on to something. Achtung Digital really liked the show of Myung shin Lee for her label Low Classic which took many European influences from the 90’s like Helmut Lang and Jean Colonna to a serious Korean style territory. At the same time, there were many shows which had more than 100 looks and seemed to repeat themselves endlessly. So Kuho still has a lot of work to do but then, he just started a few months ago.

 

Seoul It Girls: Mirim Lee (middle) fashion director of Korean Harper’s Bazaar with Low Classic designer Myung shin Lee (left) and colleague (right). Seoul Fashion Week
Seoul It Girls: Mirim Lee (middle) fashion director of Korean Harper’s Bazaar with Low Classic designer Myung shin Lee (left) and colleague (right)