JUUN.J is part of a rising generation of South Korean designers capturing the frenetic energy of Seoul’s street scene and menswear culture. Since founding his first label, Lone Costume, in 1999, the designer has developed a signature concept of “street tailoring” that has become increasingly influential in the fashion landscape: volumes and proportions borrowed from womenswear or Eastern design, adapted with an eye to streetwear and transformed into something completely contemporary. For Fall, his idea of an urban uniform plays out in familiar design elements recombined and deconstructed: bomber jacket sleeves grafted onto a tuxedo, leather and wool next to neoprene and nylon. Claude Montana-inspired silhouettes of exaggerated shoulders and narrow waists further his dramatic vision of masculinity.
But any discussion of a JUUN.J collection would be incomplete without touching on his graphic tees and sweatshirts. Their fantastical prints, often the product of a different artist collaboration, become ever more surreal by the season. This Fall, the designer teamed up with street artist Greg Simkins on a series of prints featuring squid, cockatoos, dragons, and doe-eyed bulldogs floating in psychedelic landscapes. Former collaborators alexandfelix also reappeared with new images from their “13 Queens” series, with select designs available exclusively at SSENSE. We spoke with Juun about his favorite cities, the importance of collaborating, and his Fall collection.
The foundation of JUUN.J’s aesthetic is based in the classic, but I love to blend styles. So, for example, a classic item with board shorts or a classic item with a sweatshirt. By re-interpreting and re-creating classic items, JUUN.J creates a whole new item and styling.
The concept behind the Fall/Winter 13 collection is “Contrasting Beauty.” We take two completely contrasting elements, like retro/futurism, masculine/feminine, or minimal/ornate, and combine them to create a third element. They come together like a Mobius strip. The overall mood of the collection is military, with bomber jackets and 1950’s Teddy Boy jackets presented in an avant-garde and modern way.
After being discharged from the army after three years of military service, and while majoring in menswear, I realized that the military uniform is at once classic and sporty with a street feel to it. Its many different facets enraptured me. The trench coat - which is my signature piece - is classic yet military. And I think there will always be an element of military in my collections.
I cannot say which city is better. Paris is a very fashionable city and has an artistic atmosphere that’s different from anywhere else in the world. On the other hand, Seoul is very fast and technologically driven. I am inspired by the two cities in different ways and get positive energy from them both!
I’m influenced by music, film, street culture. But people, especially, inspire me. I get inspiration from everybody I meet around the world. I can get inspired by anything: from the way they look to the conversations we have. Fashion is for people and the most beautiful inspirations come from people. I’ve also recently been inspired by Kanye West. He’s so representative of the high-end hip-hop spirit.
Collaboration is so much more than simply working together. It is like a crossover project between different cultures, and the crossover between cultures and boundaries plays a huge role in my work as a designer. It is the best way to effect a synergy between artists.
It’s consistency. I have completed 12 collections and within those collections there is always coherence. Re-interpreting classic items and creating a completely new item is a continuous process for me.