Tag Archive for J KOO

Seoul Fashion Week Spring 2015: J KOO

SFW S/S 2015: J KOO

You know it’s a good show when you start anticipating the next look. Quite simply, what sets a good collection apart from those that are average is one that which presents something new in every single look yet mindfully follows the theme by placing main elements of the collection in each look. It should be clear what the designer is trying to convey, and it should be illustrated in the pieces that are made with the highest quality and finish. We have all done some type of presentation in school that required nothing but the best in us because the presentation, in a way, represented who we were- it was a chance to show them what we were capable of. A fashion show isn’t much different- only that an event in this scale should consist of results that offer a lot more at a much higher level.

SFW S/S 2015: J KOO

J KOO is a brand that knows what’s up. And I mean it- are they not only the most well-trained and prepared duo, but they are one of the few designer brands that shows during Seoul Fashion Week that have mastered the basics of fashion design. What that means is that they have the ability to cover from A to Z with their very own “kick” added, all the while keeping them “cool” and practical enough to lure fashion fans from all over the world. The pieces are not only one of a kind, but with wit and quality that you’d expect from a luxury designer brand- but more important, they are trendsetting while also being timeless and sometimes even free from circumstantial factors. These are clothes you want to go out in, party in, meet cute boys and girls in, pray in, and to sleep in. I know, because I’ve experienced them firsthand.

SFW S/S 2015: J KOO

It isn’t difficult to conclude that tennis is rather a fashionable sport, and it really got me curious when the designer told me that they were inspired by tennis wear from the 1920′s to 1930′s which looked something like this and this. While it’s not the first time high fashion has played tennis, compared to Jean Paul Gaultier’s luxurious take, J KOO presents younger, casual variations with mini fringes, pleats and their signature “undone” edges. Having a menswear background for the duo gives them a competitive advantage by allowing them to experiment with womenswear while creating everything with top notch tailoring. It may seem common sense, but at the end of the day, what truly matters is whether fashion designers know how to design. If you are wondering why I’m saying such a thing, try seeing 200 shows a season. You can kind of start giving brands grades, trust me.

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Photo by Justin Shin, fashion photographer Seoul, Korea

Identity Crisis

What does it mean to be American?


America being a home to people of different national origins, when we introduce ourselves, there usually is an adjective before the word “American” that more accurately and profoundly describes a person’s origin. When I introduce myself, I call myself Korean American, but what does that really mean? Am I American? Am I Korean? Am I both or neither?

Lately, I noticed that I’m experiencing identity crisis (yet again) which apparently has been affected by my being located in a supposedly “home” country which happens to be among the most homogeneous of all.

This was not planned nor expected, and I didn’t want to accept it for the longest time, but the truth is that I’m totally feeling like a foreigner in my own home country.

When I was moving to Korea, besides being ecstatic about what future would bring, I was partly excited to be reunited with “Home,” as in a place where I was born and my early childhood was spent. The sweet memories of riding a shopping bag in the snow-covered playground, running around the apartment complex in hopes of catching dragonflies for homework, being freaked out by caterpillars that were randomly found in my backpack thanks to those troublesome kids, evenings spent watching the sunset while secretly enjoying Pollapo (which wasn’t so secret after all as Pollapo would always turn the whole mouth and lips purple) after a long day of playing Chinese Jump Rope (or Elastics or however it’s called in your country, a game played with rubber bands similar to hopscotch)…


It was memories such as these that helped my days go quicker, that brightened my day when I felt down and discouraged when I had first moved to America. The thought of having a place to go back was such a relief in itself.


What I didn’t know was that “Home” wasn’t going to be so homey anymore… that as with everything else, home had changed…


I guess subconsciously, I was expecting to be “welcomed” to be back… but it turns out that it requires more from me to feel at home, it isn’t so much about the environment and the people. I need to try harder if I want to fit in and feel comfortable, it doesn’t work the other way around. Koreans expect you to be Korean if you look Korean. Does that make sense?

But more and more, I’m realizing that I’m so freaking American inside (I’m kind of annoyed that I’m this way) that the cultural gap is beginning to look a lot bigger than it did in the beginning.


If I looked more foreign, would I feel more “Welcomed” around here?


I felt lost in the States, I didn’t know where I belonged. I felt out of place all the time- now that I think about it, as much as I hated the place, I probably felt most comfortable in K-Town, where people like me could be found everywhere.


Perhaps it’s an inevitable truth for those who are 1.5 generation. We are not fully Korean, nor fully American, because we are both.


We speak two languages, embrace two very different cultures, and try to fit in… all the time.


What is considered natural and obvious for some is something that requires lots of effort and training for others… yet most of the times we don’t even succeed…


I remember back in College, how I intentionally avoided being exposed to anything Korean, Korean pop music, Korean makeup, Korean magazines, Korean dramas, despite having been completely obsessed with anything and everything Korean for eons since leaving Korea (probably a common side effect of being homesick). I decided one day that I was going to be a “Twinkie” and only wanted to associate with those considered as such. I hated being categorized as a “FOB,” I felt offended and degraded, perhaps because I had tried extra hard to learn English… to become more “American” than the typical Asians.


This is not to say that I ever forgot my roots. Despite distancing myself from the culture, I always had a soft spot for Korea, and the shocking reality is that I’m now back here, living and working in Korea… I just want Korea to know that I loved you back then, have always loved you, and that I want to continue to love you… but when all odds seem to be turning against me, it becomes kind of difficult…

The bottom line is that I wish I could feel more at home here. I wish I wasn’t missing home so much, not that I understand the complete meaning of home anyway anymore. All I know is that home isn’t anywhere on earth… What I’ve realized after living in different cities and countries is that no matter where I am, I will always be a foreigner, hence no need to feel out of place, or homesick… Now I just need to figure out how to feel more “at home” during my stay here… Any ideas?

Wearing Denim jacket and White pocket shirt by J KOO, Lace shorts from Zara, White “Granted” Wedge Heels by Jeffrey Campbell, White leather cap from Amazon, Sunglasses by Cheap Monday

Fear of the Unknown


The power of knowledge.

Has that ever crossed your mind, as in how it directly impacts your life? We are not just talking about education here, it’s the difference between “knowing” and “not knowing” that affects how we deal with life. This, whether you realize or not, has a lot to do with whether you will achieve your dreams or attain what you desire, because it’s directly linked to your confidence.


I remember when I used to be forced to give a presentation in front of 30 other students back in college… how it used to be the most fearful, nerve-wrecking thing I ever had to do in school… how my lips would completely dry up and the next minute I would find myself rambling like there is no tomorrow in a way I couldn’t even understand myself… Realizing this would freak me out, which then would lead me to freeze completely… oh, how I dreaded those…


 It all starts with not knowing. Take a moment to reminisce the times when we were feeling abnormally fearful. We can easily see that “knowing” is in the center of it all. If I had full knowledge of the subject I was presenting, I probably wouldn’t have been so nervous.


Of course, this type of knowing requires lots of preparation. It does not come easy, unless you’ve done it many times. We find ourselves continually asking ourselves, “What if?”

As for me, this happened a lot when I was interviewing for a job. I would go into an interview not even fully convinced why I wanted the job, and of course not knowing what I was going to be asked, which obviously meant I didn’t know how to answer correctly either. And I wondered why I would be so nervous all the time. Then I think about the way I am when I’m with friends, because I’m suspicious whether I have a social anxiety, but I’m fine when I’m around people I know, when I don’t need to be prepared to present “right answers.”

But then again, now I think about it, why should even there be “right answers” during job interviews? Are companies really looking for cookie-cutter, robot-like people who studied interview material hard enough to give textbook answers? If that’s the case, they would only be hiring a certain type of people, and the company as a whole probably is a full of same robots…

If so, then who brings in fresh perspectives, and better yet, innovative ideas when creativity has become a top success factor for companies these days? I’ve been on more than enough job interviews to last a lifetime, and yes, there were times when I felt discouraged and even depressed because of it, but I couldn’t be happier right now and be thankful for not getting the job because after all, I am far from being the submissive office worker type. So it’s been a while but thank you, Deloitte. Thank you, Mercer. Thank you, Booz Allen. Not only my life is whole lot better but I’m a better person because of you.


If you ever feel discouraged because of you’ve been “rejected” (including one by a girl or a boy in a relationship), believe me, that is because you deserve better, something or someone that’s a better fit for you. It has nothing to do with your skills, ability, background, or who you are, it’s because you are meant for something else, something greater, something best.

If anything, rejection makes you only stronger. So cheer up and keep at it. ;)


Mesh top and culotte shorts by J Koo, Cat-eye sunglasses by Cheap Monday from IT in Hong Kong, Clear wedge heels by Jeffrey Campbell, White leather hat from Amazon.


J KOO: It’s Awesome to be Twosome


Going into their fourth season, J KOO is a brand led by duo designers Jinwoo Choi and Yeonjoo Koo who met while preparing for fashion school, became friendly while in London during which became close enough to not only start working together but eventually agree… to get married. ;)

As life partners, they encourage and inspire each other while complementing each other as fashion designers and business partners. Having spent eight years in London studying Menswear at Central Saint Martins and launching J KOO, it’s easy to locate mannish elements in their collections, surprisingly but most definitely in a subtle manner. I may had been misinformed or it could have been my erroneous preconception but when I used to hear about a brand that incorporates menswear into womenswear, among the first images that came to my mind was Hedi Slimane’s rather direct reinterpretation of mens suits complete with wide-brimmed hats, slacks, an immaculately tailored jackets (ie Saint Laurent Spring 2013 RTW).


Shattering this image was J KOO’s fresh approach of incorporating menswear elements that are relatively subdued (requiring further observation to be noticed), such as using high quality wool used in fine menswear suits which can only be found at menswear textile shops, while using tailoring techniques and details only found in such. This is unique to the brand as Choi and Koo’s expert knowledge in menswear is what allows them to pursue a rather unconventional method. This concept comes from not only having been trained at a top notch educational institution but has a lot to do with their passion, talent, and practice since childhood days. What I found particularly inspiring was that all the clothes Choi used to wear back in college days were self-made, which by the way, are still in great shape, displayed along with his new collection pieces at his current studio. He mentioned that his love for fashion started naturally, as he was surrounded by art and fashion since the early days thanks to his father who had a great interest in painting, mother who used to avidly make clothes for him, and sisters who studied art. Coincidentally and fortunately for him, when he was in military, he made friends who were in the design industry who encouraged and inspired him to pursue fashion design when he was feeling discouraged and lost.


J KOO’s F/W collection touches upon many domains of fashion, ranging from classic to modernism, graphic prints, to cocoon silhouettes.


As someone who hasn’t touched baggy silhouettes since the 90′s, I must admit that I hesitated quite a bit before finally deciding on J KOO’s voluminous pieces, afraid that they would make me look large.


Though, now that I think about it, what’s wrong with looking big? Yeah. Exactly. Who cares as long as I’m having fun with it. Working on confidence as we speak- you knew this. ;) Please be patient…


But more than anything, a great lesson learned is that I need to have more confidence in fashion designers, relying on their sense than my assumptions. Once I put the pieces on, not only did I look slim but felt completely comfortable, free, and beautiful. Oh, was I wrong… Go away, preconceived notions, Seriously. It didn’t take long to reconfirm the genius of the J KOO duo.


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This dress… is everything, literally. The color and print is unique but pretty at the same time, the silhouette changes depending on what your body is doing, the material is extremely soft to touch while feeling even more amazing on, and it’s perfect for layering as the buttons allow for versatility- and you know how much I’m into versatility when it comes to clothes.

Another cool element is that the ventilation is amazing… what I mean is that because it’s so roomy, it allows wind to freely move around inside the dress hence being perfect for the hot summer days in Seoul.


Dress and Pants by J KOO. Shoes by Jeffrey Campbell.

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