D.GNAK by KANG.D: Pursuit of Happiness

As someone whose childhood dream was to become a fashion designer, perhaps it’s only natural that I have a great admiration for those successful in the profession. Nevertheless, I never thought that I’d be sitting in a room chatting with them for hours, not to mention befriending them at one point. It’s funny- when I was in college, I was that annoying student who found joy in having an interrogation session professors, one who always sat in front of the class and asked all the strange questions. It was the incessant curiosity that kept me thirsty for knowledge which eventually led to more schooling. Once I got hooked on psychology, I had no choice but to dig deeper and deeper… only to realize that more studying would only require more studying. Learning really is a never ending venture which at the same time is what makes it so intriguing. I think I said in a previous post that fashion is not my passion… I find myself doing this a lot more nowadays- after I write something on here, I contemplate on it… especially if it’s something that I had never thought of before because often, I’d start writing without a topic or a theme and it leads to a self-discovery of sort. Same happened with the ‘fashion’ statement and after much thinking, I realized that it’s passion in a way that I have a never-ending curiosity about it but it’s not simply because I like clothes or the act of putting them on. Honestly, I could care less what I put on. It’s more about the process of how it all happens that I’m interested in learning more about- you know, from the very beginning of it all- starting with a designer’s idea and to how it’s made into reality, put on a show, where it gets sold, and on whom and how it’s worn and styled. With my psychology background, I guess that’s where I differ as a fashion writer which is something I only recently realized. Among many sub-categories of psychology, my main interest lies in happiness and creativity (contrary to popular belief, these two are quite closely related), to find out if there are common set of activities used by creative people to be shared with the world. While there are numerous psychological theories that are widely known, I prefer those that are readily applicable and useful in running a business. I’d be lying if I said there is a person on earth who doesn’t care at all about being happy. True happiness is what we are after, and the reason why so many businesses come and go. (think travel industry, entertainment, beauty, automotive, housing, literally every single thing we spend money on, if you think about it) Designers, fashion designers in particular, are a perfect example of those who lead a happy life in addition to athletes and music artists to name a few. This “claim” is based on the theory of Flow, through which happiness is described as a result of interaction between a specific activity one is voluntarily involved in and the level of focus contributed. The mental state one experiences as a result of such experience is called “Flow” which is directly linked to the state of “Happiness” according to the theory posited by Dr. csikszentmihalyi who is a renowned researcher and teacher in the field of Positive Psychology and also one of my professors. As you can imagine, not many can confidently say that they experience flow on a daily basis, nor can many even think that they’ve ever experienced it, yet we continually seek after what we think makes us “happy” which may actually be in your life already- all it takes is just a bit of research, a research into your daily life. According to research, the “fortunate” ones who get to experience “flow” are the ones who are in the profession of doing something they love, say artists, designers of all sorts, athletes, etc. But when you dig deeper, it’s not difficult to realize that it is indeed possible for anyone to get to the state, as long as you find yourself spending hours focusing on an activity without having your basic needs fulfilled (ie eating, using the bathroom). Such state can last minutes or hours depending on how long the experience lasts, and at least during that moment, you should feel assured that you are indeed feeling “happy”- you just haven’t realized it yet.

Ever since learning about this concept of flow, I just could not get it out of my head. I constantly find myself looking for those who get to experience it regularly, and have developed a desire to find out what the secrets are. Thankfully, being in the field of fashion has opened many doors for me, and I’m fortunate to find myself meeting those who are indeed blessed with such a life in which “flow” is naturally a part of life.

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 Meet Fashion Designer Dong Jun Kang of D.GNAK by KANG.D, who specializes in tailored suiting for men with clean cuts and understated attention to detail. Having been in the business of fashion for six years, his career is already full of milestones- he’s already shown twice at the London Fashion Week (while being the first Korean to do so), and since then his brand has gone international yet his ambition as a fashion designer doesn’t end there, his ultimate goal (at the moment at least) is to show at the Milan Fashion Week, and it has a significant meaning to him as he believes Milan is where menswear is at the highest level possible- which he says can be learned just by seeing the way older men dress. He says often, the way elders dress reflects the fashion sense of the entire town, and Milan is where he felt most inspired.

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As for his long term plan, he hopes to continue designing menswear with a strong foundation on suits but in variants with a focus on fit and material. Casual suits that are wearable is what he’s mainly after, but he’s not so certain whether his target market is Korea. As his designing career develops, he finds himself introducing a collection that is more D.GNAK than “commercial” which doesn’t always result in sales.

“Thinking back on my past collections, my current collection is more reflective of who I really am as a fashion designer than any others,” says Kang. As he spends more time as a designer, his style evolves and the more collections he shows, the closer the garments are to where his true style really lies, which is why experimentation is also important for those of us who aren’t “creators” yet strive to remain innovative- I, too, find myself becoming more creative when I have experimented a lot with clothes and accessories rather than sticking with one specific style of dressing. Kang seems to be in the process of finalizing his signature style after being experimental with various types all within the area of tailored suits.

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On the topic of creativity, he says he does not really have a routine or a specific activity that he believes facilitates in the designing process. Interestingly enough, he says he often doesn’t even start with a theme or a concept. As cliche as this will sound, it seems that he was born with it- yes, one of those blessed who happens to possess a bottomless well of never ending ideas somewhere in their brain. Although he said he doesn’t even enjoy traveling all that much which is actually one of the most effective ways to stimulate your creative brain cells, I would think that frequent traveling along with being surrounded by artistic people have at least some influence. An avid fan of hip hop, it didn’t take long for him before he became good friends with Tiger JK, a Korean-American rapper who holds a legendary status as a true pioneer of the Hip Hop scene in Korea. Their friendship led to a collaboration in which Kang had him as a finale act at His latest show at Seoul Fashion Week.

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Kang says he dreamed of becoming a fashion designer as soon as he discovered the profession when he was in middle school. His interest for fashion was confirmed by his passion for clothes- he would travel far and long to find the clothes he wanted, and it got to a point where he started altering them because they weren’t exactly what he was looking for. It all started there, and as people say, the rest is history- which involved flying over to New York for a fashion design degree from Parsons, coming back to Korea and attending graduate school for an MBA (unusual, yet extremely useful and necessary- personally thought it was a very smart move). Though it took some time to bring himself back into creative mode after imbuing himself in management concepts for two years, his strong belief in himself and passion for fashion design helped him come back stronger than ever, and today as one of the most influential fashion designers in Korea, his new venture began on a high note with buyers approaching him from all over the world. Keep an eye out for D.GNAK, you may soon see his name all over Italy.
DGNAK2 Coat from D.GNAK by KANG.D Spring/Summer 2013 Collection, sleeveless shirt and pants by Nooy by Yoon Spring/Summer 2013 Collection (Nooy is his Women’s Line that he recently introduced with his designer wife, to  officially debut next season in New York) PZ2C0162 copy DGNAK4 DGNAK5 NOOY1

Fuchsia shirt by Nooy by Yoon, Blazer by D.GNAK by KANG.D
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Gloves courtesy of Justin because I would have died without them (it was about -15 degrees Celsius). Loved how this shirt instantly brightened my face, I mean, it did make me smile in the winter chill after all. Also a huge fan of asymmetrical design, longer in the back. NOOY4 I’m starting to develop a liking for well-made garments. Rather than my old habit of purchasing fast fashion, think it’s about time that I start saving up for more quality items, which is why I may go crazy at their sample sale.
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Boots by Jeffrey Campbell & Purse by Chanel

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  2 comments for “D.GNAK by KANG.D: Pursuit of Happiness

  1. nehwoen
    January 1, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Just discovered you on an episode of semipermanenttv: “All Dressed Up”. I absolutely love this post and can’t wait to devour the rest of your blog!

  2. January 2, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Aww thank you for stopping by! So glad you are enjoying the blog! Happy New Year! ;)

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