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[Herald Interview] Designer Munsoo Kwon adds whimsy to menswear

Rookie emerges as a rising star on Seoul fashion scene

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Published : 2014-04-01 20:33
Updated : 2014-04-01 20:39

Munsoo Kwon attracted more viewers than any other rookie designer for his runway show at this year’s Seoul Fashion Week.

His show was also frequently mentioned by foreign buyers and press as a favorite during the event.

Since his debut with his 2013 fall and winter collection last year, he has become one of the most anticipated young designers in Seoul. His collection, featuring modern silhouettes and fine tailoring with a unique sense of humor, was widely praised by foreign buyers and press.

For the 2014 fall and winter collection, he based his creations on his wish to console struggling young people.

“A lot of my friends say that life is hard. I also struggle to finish off the mountain of work in front of me. The whole situation got me thinking I need to create something that can give joy and hope to people,” Kwon said in an interview with The Korea Herald during Seoul Fashion Week last week.
Designer Munsoo Kwon poses for a photo during an interview with The Korea Herald last week. (Seoul Fashion Week)

In the show, he presented a collection of jackets whose lapels and inside were patched or embroidered with golden keys as a symbol of hope.

“I design clothes based on what I have experienced and what I want to wear,” he said.

The rookie designer launched his brand in 2011 after accumulating experience in menswear design at Thom Browne, Robert Geller and Buckler.

Many see menswear as limited in terms of the number of design options, but Kwon applies small yet noticeable features to make a difference. The split-open detail on the back of his jackets has become his signature feature since his debut collection in 2013. For the 2014 fall and winter collection, he flipped the chalk stripe fabric inside and out and used the back of the fabric as the main pattern for his outerwear.

“Since resources available to young designers including myself are limited, I have to come up with something new with what I have,” Kwon said.

With his unique details grabbing attention, his schedule was packed with meetings with buyers from Hong Kong and Paris throughout fashion week.

Since his first collection last year, Kwon has earned favorable comments from fashion experts. Fern Mallis, former executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, who is credited as the creator of New York Fashion Week, said she liked his show when she visited the Seoul Fashion Week in 2013.

His clothes are sold at stores in major fashion capitals including New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Osaka.

In January, he was named one of the 11 best emerging designers in the world’s biggest menswear trade show Pitti Immagine Uomo held in Florence, Italy.

“I was featured in the ‘Latest Fashion Buzz’ event in Pitti Uomo. People made good comments on the quality and design of my collections. I received positive responses from people I’ve dreamed of encountering, such as editors from GQ and Vogue Italy,” said Kwon.

These reactions were important to Kwon domestically as well as abroad.

“If my brand gains ground abroad, that would pave the way for my brand in Korea too,” he said.

He is one of the few designers in Korea selling clothes to shops wholesale.

Little-known rookie designers sell their clothes on consignment, a sales arrangement which lets shops take a certain amount of commissions and leave the inventory burden on designers.

His clothes are sold in major shops in Seoul such as Koon With a View, KUD on Garosu-gil and the online shop W Concept.

“From the beginning, I wanted to make a global brand. I hope some day my name would be established as my own style,” he said.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)

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