Love List

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Soulpot Studio - Exploring the Korean fabric of the soul

I had the opportunity to discover Korean designer Kim Sujinn's work during the Blueprint tradeshow and was very impressed by her vision and the sense of intimacy that her clothes seem to carry, simply through its fabrics and loose, poetic silhouettes. 

Sujinn K. is the youngest designer to show at Seoul Fashion Week and the amazing thing is that she is an entirely self-taught designer. She has never had any formal training in dressmaking nor fashion - previously she studied Chemistry in university. Her love for fashion started when she began reading dressmaking through books and through the years, she has been creating beautiful things and is now into her 11th collection already. Handling all aspects of her label alone (designing, sourcing for fabrics, marketing, PR...), this is one amazing and strong girl. Despite all this, she remains very humble and down to earth. 

I first met her at her Blueprint booth - a seemingly quiet and reserved girl. Upon touching and feeling the subtle luxury of the fabrics, I was drawn into her collection, but unfortunately we couldn't communicate. It was only on the second day when I returned to her booth that I managed to interview her informally through a translator. 
Hand dyed parka with Hanbok inspired high collar & cutouts
Loose silhouettes & tie-belts to allow for free styling
Linen inner layer cotton weaved muslin outer

Naked Glory: What are the inspirations behind your designs? Why do you choose such soft and slouchy silhouettes in these neutral colors? 
Sujinn K: I want to use organic fabrics and the traditional Korean ways of dyeing and treating fabric so that it is better and more comfortable for the human body. I'm not trying to achieve the Japanese Zen - that is another set of values altogether. A lot of the styles here are reinterpretations of the traditional Korean Hanbok in a modern way. Because a lot of Koreans hate traditional costumes nowadays, so I want to change that mentality and show my designs internationally for people to know what traditional Korean fabrics and believes are.  I want to make my styling free and easy so there is a lot of lightweight fabrics and draping. 

In Korea in the past, our ancestors used to wear long pants and long sleeves even in summer. This was because their fabrics were very breathable and lightweight. So I have incorporated a lot of linen in my designs. 

I personally observed that Sujinn paid a lot of details - it all lines within her stitching, buttons at the side of her maxi skirts and ingenious draping.

NG: I really love your designs but I'm concerned about the commercial factor of your designs - how are sales doing so far in Korea and what about your stockists elsewhere?
In the beginning it was very difficult because I was a young designer and because of my minimalistic designs that are unlike what the KPop culture promotes nowadays. That's why I have my diffusion line Soulpot Studio Basic Words, which is a selection of 10 essential basics trickled down from my main line. But unlike some other labels that assert itself with loud colors and futuristic designs, I want to establish soft design principles that resonate with my customers/wearers of my clothes. So gradually, I have attained local customers that can identify with my designs and values. 

Every tag comes with complete breakdown of fabrics used & swatches
SBSW - diffusion line
Soulpot Studio embodies a quiet sophistication in its designs, but yet at the same time a determination to create change and express values through fashion. It is not just retailing clothing, but the brand itself reflects the cultural level of Korea and has created a mature elegance by relating to its own cultural aesthetic and identity. In today's age, it's not easy to find that anymore. And that's why I love the label. 

Watch Soulpot Studio's SS12 show at Seoul Fashion Week here to see how her clothes move. Notice that she casted all Asian models.

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