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[Herald Design Forum 2016] ‘Clothes should be unique but wearable’

When it comes to fashion, designer Choi Eu-don’s philosophy is one that emphasizes both creativity and practicality.

While he believes that his pieces should “contain a different idea, something unique that differentiates them from ready-to-wear collections,” Choi places equal emphasis on how “wearable” an outfit is.

“After all, fashion design is for clothes, and clothes become significant when someone wears them,” he said in an interview with The Korea Herald. Choi will be delivering a talk titled “Passion Beyond Fashion: Flirting with Art” at the Herald Design Forum 2016 on Nov. 8.

The same notion of merging aesthetics with practicality also shines through in his business, the designer-CEO says. Choi operates his eponymous fashion brand from a small studio in London, which showcases its collections at London Fashion Week every season.

“It’s a very small brand,” Choi says somewhat modestly. His clothes are stocked in a number of prestigious stores around the world, from London’s famed Selfridges & Co. department store to Hong Kong’s Harvey Nichols and Italy’s Luisa Via Roma. In Korea, his pieces are available at the exclusive 10 Corso Como shops. In 2011, Choi was invited by the renowned editor of British Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour, to present his spring-summer collection at Milan Fashion Week in honor of the Vogue Fashion Fund.

Designer Choi Eu-don (2016 Herald Design Forum)
Designer Choi Eu-don (2016 Herald Design Forum)

“But even in running this small business, I’ve witnessed cases where designers, who tend to be more emotionally, creatively developed, fall short on organizational skills.”

Choi’s brand strives to deliver both artistically and practically in its business dealings. “A lot of people in the many industries we work with appreciate our being well-organized.”

Choi believes that Korean fashion has a lot of potential. “At the moment, Korea is receiving a lot of international attention not only for its fashion but also for its culture in general,” he said. “If we go through with our independent planning rather than follow other trends, I think it would help our chances in the global market.”

Choi said he has thrived from the creative gene that runs in his family. Born in Korea, Choi had a comfortable childhood and soaked up inspiration in an art-filled household.

“My grandmother and mother also owned a small clothing business, which was a huge influence on me,” Choi said. His aunt and uncle were art professors, while his cousin was a professor of fashion design.

Choi was initially trained as a menswear designer in Seoul, acquiring in-depth knowledge of tailoring techniques. He then decided to switch paths in 2003, moving to London to attend the Royal College of Art where he earned a Master of Arts degree in womenswear.

Models wear pieces from designer Choi Eu-don’s 2016 fall-winter collection. (2016 Herald Design Forum)
Models wear pieces from designer Choi Eu-don’s 2016 fall-winter collection. (2016 Herald Design Forum)

Of his time at the prestigious art school, Choi said, “It was such a refreshing experience. They didn’t necessarily teach us, you had to develop your own project. It was different from the teaching we experience in Korea. It was an important period for me to trust myself and develop my own style of work.”

A year before graduation, Choi was hired as a senior designer by the British clothing brand All Saints. In 2008, he became senior designer at jean brand Twenty8Twelve before leaving in 2009 to launch his own label.

Choi said his experience with both menswear and womenswear allows him to “merge the best of both worlds” by using sartorial techniques and masculine cuts to shape the female form. His sources of inspiration include everything from historical photography, vintage garments and everyday life to big libraries.

“There’s no correct answer in fashion,” Choi says. “Inspiration can come from everywhere. That’s why research is important. I create image boards based on the research and continue to develop my designs.”

By Rumy Doo (