IMMIGRATION EXPERIENCE
I arrived to the US from South Korea and grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. Navigating the language barrier was primary. Observation in nonverbal communication was key to understand the new world. Every morning, getting dressed for school, fashion became the one vehicle for social conversation.
#immigrant #languagebarrier #newworld #fashion #nonverbal #communication
1975
SCHOOL
Following in the footsteps of the American fashion icon and personal hero, Calvin Klein, I enrolled at F.I.T in NY with a long term plan of working for him direct. Everything else that followed was an accident.
#icon #CalvinKlein #FITNewYork #NewYork
1990
EXTRA CREDIT
One homework assignment, turned into an unintended side hustle – interviewing professional seamstresses and pattern makers at the school cafeteria in between classes. I experimented in multiple categories, initially evening dresses, then designer denim and also a collection of up-cycled cashmere/mohair/angora sweaters gained commercial traction from inception. The timing was in perfect alignment with the dawning of the Contemporary Young Designer category.
#homework #assignment #sidehustle #dresses #designerdenim #traction #ContemporaryCategory
1991
FIRST PRESS CREDIT : COVER PAGE
Hollywood Magazine cover featured Laura Dern wearing one of the three dresses from the initial micro collection. Inspired by Geoffrey Beene, the designs were clean and modern yet elegant. Dresses were cut in Jasco Matte Jersey and french seamed for a refined finish inside and out.
*File missing. This was pre-computer, pre-scanner and pre-google images
#HollywoodMagazine #LauraDern #microcollection #GeoffreyBeene #JascoMatteJersey #frenchseamed #insideandout
LAURA DERN IN TWIN PEAKS EPISODE
1991
STARTUP ONE : INDUSTRY PRACTICE
The next 10 years were an extended school experiment. Rogue and self-taught, I got thrown in to the deep end from inception. New people and new rules – a world within a world. Accumulatively, the collection was carried by leading retailers such as Barneys, Fred Segal and Neiman Marcus in the US, Harvey Nichols in UK, Isetan, United Arrows and Barneys in Japan.
#rogue #selftaught #distribution #Barneys #FredSegal #NeimanMarcus #HarveyNichols #Isetan #UnitedArrows
1991 - 2000
STARTUP TWO : VERTICAL OPERATION
The next 10 years were about a whole system approach to design and brand experience. Retail, Wholesale, PR, Design development and production under one roof. 37=1 opened on 37 Crosby Street in SoHo, just after 9/11. The absence of foot traffic was a forcing function to configure the What and the How converting deficits into features.
Resource constraints did not allow for full product range and/or inventory. To address the issue and produce a memorable experience, made to measure service was offered – a rare and decadent experience for the modern women. An additional unique value proposition was the design development exchange with the maker and being at the source.
Rather than creating a full collection each season, as was the industry norm, the discipline of distilling to form a capsule collection – a deliberate measure of what’s there and not there – organically produced the signature design DNA.    
   
#verticaloperation #37=1  #JeanYuShop #CrosbyStreet #Soho #NYC #JeanYuLingerie #RobinBroadbent #RobinBroadbentxJeanYu #Creativecollaboration #NewYorkMagazine #BradParisPhoto
2000 - 2010
CRAFT : DRESS MAKING
Bias cut chiffon is like water – you touch it and it ripples at the point of contact. It is a moving target. To understand its nature and to develop the ‘light hand’ was an emotional and costly affair over the next 10 years.
The one way to optimize fabric usage and retain its value is to keep it whole – seamless design offered an avenue for material recourse but required draping on a human body/dress form. Working in 3-D is a lost art and a high-risk venture, yet fully in line with my values to create beauty from every angle. Designing in the seamless developed into a signature discipline.
A filmmaker once told me that the equivalent of seamless design is to shoot a film from start to finish without any cuts – Exactly.
#biascut #silkchiffon #craft #seamless #seamlessdesign #draping #wholesystem #beautifulinsideandout #designsignature
2001
DESIGN SIGNATURE : LINGERIE ENSUITE
‘Beautiful inside and out’ construction philosophy evolved into a new product category. When cutting a bias cut dress, two opposite corners of the luxury fabric are left unused, as per the industry norm. For me, tossing out perfectly serviceable material, much less precious fibers, is double sacrilegious. How can this be fully utilized? How to honor its nature and its potential?
At the time, the trend was wearing designer jeans and diaphanous tops – the obvious product extension, but I wanted lingerie. The absence of retail accounts and their industry expectations allowed for creative freedom and experimentation to indulge all my curiosities – no compromise.
I wanted to know what it felt like to wear lingerie that was cut from the very same cloth, made from the same skilled hands and with the same design intentions as the dresses – I believed that it would be the ultimate integrity in craft. No distinction between the interior and exterior… It is decadent as it is egalitarian.      
 
#biascut #silkchiffon #0waste #fabricwaste #silklingerie #JeanYulingerie #beautifulinsideandout
2002
FIRST LINGERIE COVER : V MAGAZINE
#Beyonce #MarioTestino #LoriGoldstein #Vmagazine #CoverPage
2003
FIRST DRESS COVER : VOGUE
#GwenStefani #StevenMeisel #TonneGoodman #Vogue #VogueCover
2004
CFDA VOGUE FASHION FUND FINALIST
#NormanJeanRoy #JessicaDiehl #CFDAVogueFF #Vogue
2005
WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTION - REWIND
Dover Street Market, Harrods, London Maria Luisa, Le Bon Marche, Paris Barneys, Jeffrey, Linda Dresner, 37=1, New York. Maxfield, Ron Herman, Los Angeles. Ikram, Chicago, Tomas Maier, Miami, Celux, Tokyo, Joyce, Hong Kong Net-a-Porter.com, CoutureLab.com
2005
FIRST RED CARPET : GOLDEN GLOBE
2006 Oscar winner, Hilary Swank, wore signature seamless dress at the Golden Globe Awards.
#HilarySwank #GoldenGlobes #redcarpet #seamlessdesign #designsignature  
2006
VANITY FAIR COVER
#VanityFair #NormanJeanRoy #SarajaneHoare #KatherineHeigl #VanityFairCover  
#DanMartensen #biascutcashmere #rollededge #sculptedfold #silkorganza
2007
STYLIST, THE INTERPRETERS OF FASHION Book by Rizzoli
#StylistTheInterpreters #Style.com #AnnaWintour #SarahMower #RaulMartinez #Rizzoli
2007
NEW YORK FASHION Exhibition at Victoria & Albert Museum, London
#NewYorkFashion #SonnetStanfill  #V&A #VictoriaandAlbertMuseum #KennyJossickPhoto
2007
NEW YORK FASHION Book by Victoria & Albert Museum Press
Focusing on up-and-coming designers and their contributions to the changing fashion industry in the vibrant climate of New York city, New York Fashion explores the city’s importance as a fashion capital in the 21st century. Tracing New York’s emergence after the Second World War as a major international fashion centre and looking at the important designers of the period, including Claire McCardell and Geoffrey Beene, it also takes in the last quarter of the 20th century which was dominated by the ready-to-wear empires of designers such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. In the past five years a group of young, talented New York based designers have found critical and commercial success internationally. Sonnet Stanfill examines the reasons behind this exciting rise in new talent and illustrates the best examples of the work of 20 of New York’s next generation of fashion designers, including Zac Posen, Proenza Schouler, Jean Yu, Behnaz Sarafpour and Derek Lam.”  
Sonnet Stanfill is curator of twentieth-century and contemporary fashion at the V&A.
– V&A EXHIBITION BOOKS
#NewYorkFashion #SonnetStanfill #VictoriaandAlbertMuseum #V&APublishing
2007
AMERICAN BEAUTY, AESTHETIC AND INNOVATION IN FASHION Exhibition at The Museum at F.I.T. New York
American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion was the first exhibition to explore how the “philosophy of beauty” is allied to the craft of dressmaking.
http://www.fitnyc.edu/museum/exhibitions/american-beauty.php
#AmericanBeauty #PatriciaMears #MuseumatFIT #aesthetics #innovation #americanfashion
2009
AMERICAN BEAUTY, AESTHETICS AND INNOVATION IN FASHION Book by Yale Press
#AmericanBeauty #PatriciaMears #YalePress #aesthetics #innovation #americanfashion
2009
THE RESET : THE FIRE
All three floors of the vertical operations were lost at a moment’s notice. 37=1 The jewel box shop, full studio at upper level, mini-studio at lower level, admin office in the back, client orders, collection samples, shop inventory, fabric, patterns, archive samples and industrial equipments, especially my beloved cobalt blue 20 foot industrial cutting table – all gone. I felt light.
#37=1 #fire #waterdamage #archive #samples #inventory #originalpatterns #industrialequipment #allgone #feelinglight
2010
THE NOMAD EXPERIENCE
The next 10 years were about recovery and discovery. Micro-managing the wide spectrum of operations, in a vertical operation no less, made for a refined brand experience but at the high cost of mental and physical exhaustion. There was no separation between the person and the work. Burnt out founder –> Burnt out shop.
Immediately after the fire, Proenza Schouler and Rag and Bone inquired about a design collaboration for the upcoming runway shows. A new path showed up at my doorstep. It was thrilling to have worked with some of the most storied design houses in New York and Paris. The personal challenge was how to – not do (the how) everything – and only focus on the design (the what). For me, the how is everything. How informs the What.
Nomadic life as a design consultant allowed for time and space for special projects as well as discovery into new worlds. The internal world of mindfulness, the moving parts of the closed loop system and circular economy, and the digital world of tech and startup culture. I discovered the values and practice of lean, agile, iterative, eccentric approach, resonated with my personal operating system. It has been a long discovery period to configure a way to do what I love and integrate practices from disparate cultures… Inverse Design Studio is the thesis and the test tube baby born of the extended meditation.
#designconsultant #designcollaborations #homestudio #workinprogress #RickOwens  
#nomad #nomadlife #remote #lean #agile #designconsultant #designcollaborations #homestudio #workinprogress #jeanyuswim #getwet
2010 - 2020
PROENZA SCHOULER, NEW YORK Design Collaboration
SP11 WOMENS RTW COLLECTION
#ProenzaSchouler #ProenzaSchoulerxJeanYu #designcollaboration #SP11 #NYFW #NewYork
2010
RAG & BONE, NEW YORK Design Collaboration
SP11 WOMENS RTW COLLECTION
    #Rag&Bone #Rag&BonexJeanYu #designcollaboration #runwaycollection #SP11 #NYFW #NewYork
2010
IMPACT, 50 YEARS OF CFDA Book by Abrams
#Impact50YearsofCFDA #PatriciaMears #CathyHoryn #CDFA #50yearanniversary #Abrams
2012
FASHION DESIGNERS A-Z Book by Taschen
#FashionDesignersAtoZ #DrValerieSteele #SuzyMenkes #Taschen
2013
FASHION DESIGNERS A-Z Exhibition at The Museum at F.I.T. New York
#FashionDesignersAtoZ #DrValerieSteele #SuzyMenkes #MuseumatFIT
2013
FASHION AND FOLK ART Exhibition at Folk Art Museum New York
#FashionandFolkArt #FolkArtMuseum #NewYork #Exhibition #AlexisCarreño
2014
FOLK COUTURE: FASHION AND FOLK ART, FOLK ART MUSEUM, NEW YORK Book by American Folk Art Museum 2014
#FashionandFolkArt #AlexisCarreno #Anne-imeldaRadice #StacyCHollander
2014
BALENCIAGA, PARIS Design Consultation
SP15 WOMENS RTW COLLECTION BY ALEXANDER WANG
#Balenciaga #AlexanderWang #ParisFashionWeek #SP15 #runwaycollaboration #designconsultation
2015
SIDE HUSTLE : SWIM COLLECTION.
Swimwear was a natural extension from lingerie and I wanted to create that which I could not find. As always, I was my own first customer, I had the chance to make it according to my personal specs.
As a maker, I wanted to create a small something… Something compact and portable. Something without having to own heavy industrial machinery, the 20-foot cutting table and technical team that I no longer had. Operationally, I was excited to return to subcontracting when I found a great manufacturer in NYC garment district. They were local, they were skilled and they were the only one willing to experiment with construction methodology.
Swimwear construction utilizes the 3 or 5 thread overlock or 4 thread lock stitch and the 3 thread coverstitch or zigzag for finishing. The one thing in common is the voluminous thread consumption needed for the stretch in the fabric and elastic. It is typical to see multiple methods for a single seam. The build-up is an abrasion that drags across the skin when putting it on.
The initial goal was to reduce the bulk and yet deliver performance in stretch and recovery. Every detail is an opportunity to optimize the physical experience of wearing it. The unique attribute of performance fabric is the strength, durability and moisture management properties. Ironically the industry norm is to utilize the technical fabric on the exterior while the very layer that‘s in contact with the skin, the lining fabric, offers 0 benefits other than its low cost to the maker. Even at the luxury level, brands including the European heritage brands, follow suit. Why invest in looking dry vs feeling dry?
For me it was the inverse – the value add was to cut the quick dry, moisture-wicking performance fabric for the interior before the exterior. Whereas swimwear designers reply solely on the stretch of the fabric for fit, I wanted to bring in RTW design vocabulary and techniques – darts, seaming and nuanced style lines. All elements were strategically placed and constructed to achieve flattering look and articulated fit. A rare advantage of being self-taught, is that I had the opportunity to challenge the status quo at every turn.
2016
RICK OWENS, PARIS
RS16 Swim Collection
SU16 Swim Collection
2016
BEAUTY - COOPER HEWITT DESIGN TRIENNIAL Exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York
#BeautyCooperHewitt #DesignTriennial #AndreaLipps #EllenLupton #CooperHewitt #DesignTriennial #SmithsonianDesignMuseum
2016
BEAUTY - COOPER HEWITT DESIGN TRIENNIAL Book by Cooper Hewitt Publications
PHOTO BY ROBIN BROADBENT #BeautyCooperHewitt #DesignTriennial #RobinBroadbent #AndreaLipps #EllenLupton #CooperHewitt #DesignTriennial #SmithsonianDesignMuseum #CooperHewittPublications
2016
ANCIENT GREEK SANDALS, ATHENS Design Collaboration
SS18 ANCIENT GREEK SANDALS X JEAN YU COLLECTION
 
#SS18 #AncientGreekSandals #AncientGreekSandalsxJeanYu #designcollaboration #Athens
2017
ALEXANDER WANG x UNIQLO UNDERWEAR Design Consultation
AW18 Underwear / Innerwear SS19 Underwear / Innerwear
#AW18 #SS19 #AlexanderWang #Uniqlo #JeanYu #designconsultation #underwear #innerwear
2018
RICK OWENS, PARIS Design Consultaion
SS19 RICK OWENS WOMENS RTW, PARIS
#RickOwens #Babel #ParisFashionWeek #SS19 #designconsultation
2019
ALEXANDER WANG, NEW YORK…. Work in progress
2019
THE FULL CIRCLE : LA → NYC → LA
Initially, I was back and forth meeting with a manufacturer in SF for my next project. It took almost 6 years to track them down – USA factory with the Ultrasonic welding production capability and responsible management.
In tandem, I was visiting my father and family in LA. The familiarity of being in west coast seeded the idea of living here. Surprisingly, uprooting from NY to LA was a fluid transition. It wasn’t just the change in the physical environment but also the migration of The Physical model to the Digital model. Owning less stuff and managing less stuff, by design.
#UltrasonicWelding #factory #supplychain #fairwage #socialresponsibility #madeinUSA #madeinSF
2019
STARTUP THREE : INVERSE ACTIVEWEAR Innovations in Sustainability x Performance
Inverse Design Studio practices a user-centric design model. Activewear is an apparel category for fitness however its usage is broader and for a longer duration. Inverse designs activewear with the actual utility in mind.
Women’s fashion is about change and its approach is wide-but-shallow. Trend for trend’s sake, producing tonnage of stuff for consumption but ultimately heading to landfill. The fast-fashion model has infiltrated all price points and in all markets. We have been trained to purchase with disposability in mind.
My interest is the inverse, I prefer to go narrow-and-deep. Supply-chain is the feature and construction is the design. An architectural approach, building from the inside out. I enjoy making things that endure in aesthetics and utility. “Fewer, but better”.
After years of hunting for the right regenerated material for Swim, the Munich Performance Fabric Expo last last winter was where I discovered it. The perfect collision of beauty, performance and refinement in recycled fabric – no compromise. Inverse is born of innovations in regenerated materials and closed-loop production system challenging the industry norms at every angle.
#InverseDesignStudio #usercentric #customercentric #activewear #narrowanddeep #fewerbutbetter #0waste #regeneratedmaterials #performancegradefabric #madeinItaly #supplychain #closedloopsystem #CircularEconomy #comingsoon
2020