Interview: Kanghyuk Choi

by Lara Johnson-Wheeler .

I’m personally drawn to mass produced artificial/manmade materials. Somehow I don’t feel the same bond with natural materials. The materials I’m drawn to stand for people's mass produced taste in real life.

Lara Johnson-Wheeler: What inspired you to use car airbags and to deconstruct them in the manner presented in this collection?

Kanghyuk Choi: I’m personally drawn to mass produced artificial/manmade materials. Somehow I don’t feel the same bond with natural materials. The materials I’m drawn to stand for people's mass produced taste in real life.

LJW: Your clothes are clearly impressive in motion, as seen in the footage created by Nick Knight. Do you think movement is important in fashion?

KC: Thank you. Function, and therefore movement, is indeed important to me. I’m not sure if movement is important in fashion overall; I guess it depends on the designer and the creations.

LJW: Who is your customer? What kind of a body do you envision your clothes for?

KC: Anybody who wishes to wear them. My work comes from the love of construction, process and freedom.

LJW: What did you take away from your time at the Royal College of Art? 

KC: Having had the opportunity to study under the amazing Head of Fashion Zowie Broach and the wonderful tutors including Brian Kirby and Lee Roach. They pushed me to look deeper inwards, while at the same time allowing me a certain freedom and confidence in expressing through my work. And also the friendships we made with fellow students, like Sanglak Shon who now works with me on the brand.

LJW: Which artists or photographers most inspire you?

KC: Bernd and Hilla Becher.

LJW: This collection juxtaposes ethereality and functionality. What is the most important aspect to you?

KC: The balance between materiality and concept.

LJW: Your garments play with the presentation of space and the absence of fabric. Can you explain this?

KC: I guess is an interpretation/representation of the world.

LJW: How did the collaboration with SHOWstudio/MACHINE-A and H. Lorenzo come about? 

KC: I met Barbara Grispini (D /ARK) and Stavros Karelis (MACHINE-A / SHOWstudio) through the Royal College of Art. The idea of a multi-platform launch collaboration happened naturally between them. Barbara has also known Lorenzo Hadar (owner of H. Lorenzo), for a long time and she thought it would be interesting to connect such powerful entities who are on the other side of the planet, but who share a similar deep love and nurturing attitude towards talent.

LJW: How have you, as a designer, been influenced by this process?

KC: Greatly. I certainly did not expect that such established industry figures like Nick Knight, Stavros Karelis, Barbara Grispini, Lorenzo Hadar and Edward Chiu - Creative Director of Highsnobiety - would give so much of their time for this. It has been inspiring and has given me huge encouragement for the future.

LJW: Your collection has travelled to London, Paris, Seoul and Los Angeles. Where do you see your practice taking you next?

KC: After this amazing collaboration with MACHINE-A/SHOWstudio and H. Lorenzo, we are planning to nurture and strengthen these relationships and grow the brand organically with Sanglak and with who we can share our vision with. For Collection 2, we have a special installation planned at the end of June at L’Eclaireur Sevignè in Paris. While MACHINE-A/SHOWstudio and H. Lorenzo will remain our exclusive stockists in their areas, we will also be launching in store in very few other cities and exclusive retailers like in Paris with L’Eclaireur, In Seoul with Boon The Shop, in Hong Kong with INK and in Luxembourg with Smets.