Designer’s four menswear lines target both high-end and mass market with classic twist
This is the seventh in a series of articles on up-and-coming Korean designers. ― Ed.
If the South Korean designer best recognized in Paris had to be named, it would be Jung Wook-jun. Since the 2007 F/W collection, Jung has been showcasing his designs at Paris Fashion Week every season. Chanel head designer Karl Lagerfeld is known to be a fan of Juun. J, Jung’s representative brand, and was spotted wearing it.
“Paris is the fashion center and being there means being at world stage-level. I wanted to be recognized as a designer who could do that. Paris is very strict ― if a brand does not have its own significant identity, it is out. But I was confident. I had been working for over 17 years in the fashion business, and I knew I could surprise them,” Jung told The Korea Herald on Wednesday at his office in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul.
So the then-40 designer sent in his portfolio to Totem, the biggest agency there. They were indifferent at first, as not many were interested in Korean designers in Europe back then. (Such attitude totally changed in the last few years, added Jung.) But when he went there in person and showed them his works, they were thrilled.
“They said that they really wanted to work with me, and only requested half of the agent fee. They needed a new face, too. We are still very good partners,” said Jung.
Jung Wook-jun poses at his office in Sinsa-dong, central Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
The designer currently runs four labels ― Lone Costume, launched in 1998, targeting the domestic market; Juun.J, launched five years ago, targeting the global market; Lone Jung Wook-jun for the GS Shop TV Home Shopping; and Lone Studio which is found in retail stores.
While the latter two are mass produced, the first two are high-end brands found in select shops in many cities including Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris, Milan, Moscow and Dubai.
When asked about the secret of success in Paris, his first overseas market, he guessed that having been able to show Juun.J’s identity at the first shot must have been effective.
“The identity of the brand is giving classic a twist. Turn it a bit modern with an avant-garde touch. My first Paris show was very favorably commented, I earned nicknames like Korean prodigy or the transformer of classic,” said Jung.
Keeping that identity is the very rule he keeps in mind when he works.
“I think a fashion designer, or any other kind of artist, should always show consistency. Even when I make collaboration works with other brands, the product should be read that it was done by Juun J.,” said Jung.
While Juun J. is rather tucked away in select shops like 10 Corso Como and Galleria Department Store, his collaboration works have been under much spotlight lately. His collaboration bag with Bean Pole Accessories last year passed the one hundred million won point in sales within only a week and his latest collaboration work with eyewear brand ALO is well received as well.
“It is a big joy for a designer to collaborate with a popular brand and be successful. Juun.J, for example, targets the high-end market, but can more easily access the general public with a reasonable price all the while keeping its high quality and image when collaborating with a popular brand,” said Jung.
“I can design glasses and bags, I don’t know the specific making processes. By doing collaboration work, I can learn them. I think a designer should be able to design a total look from clothes to glasses, hats, shoes and bags.”
Jung only supplies Juun.J collections to top-quality select shops as a way to market it as a high-end brand. He will launch a second brand, though, to expand the range of customers. Like how Dolce & Gabbana has D&G, said Juun.
He also added that it is accessories that are really important.
“Launching an accessories line is probably the last step for a designer but could be the biggest business. Accessories are how brands like Prada, Louis Vuitton and Chanel became so big. I have plans to launch an accessories line as well,” he added.
By Park Min-young (email@example.com