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[Herald Interview] ‘Sincere commitment’ will pay off big: Songzio CEO

By Choi Si-young

Published : June 9, 2024 - 14:22

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Jay Song, CEO and creative director of Songzio, poses for a photo ahead of a recent interview with The Korea Herald at Galerie Noir in Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald) Jay Song, CEO and creative director of Songzio, poses for a photo ahead of a recent interview with The Korea Herald at Galerie Noir in Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Never has Korean culture been in such limelight as today. From K-pop to K-drama and Korean food, aspects of Korean culture are winning over global audiences eager for something different.

Fashion can ride the momentum, so long as designers focus not only on creativity and quality but also on “sincerely committing to fashion,” according to Jay Song, CEO and creative director of Songzio -- a South Korean fashion house known for its avant-garde menswear.

“Sincerely committing to the work of fashion matters the most to have your name recognized,” Song said of designers eyeing the high-end fashion scene, in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.

Song called out fashion industry practices that go against that mantra. “We can’t overly rely on what’s commercially viable and trendy,” Song said. Such pursuits only hurt the perception of Korean fashion as a whole, Song noted.

The 28-year-old designer -- who took over the fashion house in 2018, 25 years after his father launched the brand in 1993 -- discussed why he had put off opening the brand’s first flagship store. He had to make sure he was ready to open a store commensurate with the brand’s storied legacy in the country, the second-generation designer said.

On May 4, the four-story Galerie Noir opened near Dosan Park in Gangnam-gu, Seoul. A Paris flagship store is expected in August with a New York flagship store scheduled to open in the second half of next year. Paris is culturally significant and New York is too big a market to lose out on, according to Song.

June 21 will mark another milestone for Song as the menswear label unveils its first womenswear collection at the spring-summer 2025 Paris Men’s Fashion Week. The fashion house has been showing at Paris Men’s Fashion Week since 2006. It will be something of a return to the brand’s past -- Songzio, originally a womenswear, transitioned to menswear in 2000.

Jay Song, CEO and creative director of Songzio, poses for a photo ahead of a recent interview with The Korea Herald at Galerie Noir in Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald) Jay Song, CEO and creative director of Songzio, poses for a photo ahead of a recent interview with The Korea Herald at Galerie Noir in Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

“Womenswear is the real crown jewel in fashion,” Song said on the limits of menswear design. Song stressed he and his father design every piece at the fashion house, including the upcoming womenswear line.

Of around 300 staff, 10 percent are assisting designers at the house’s four sublabels: Avant-garde collection Songzio, high-end menswear Songzio Homme, contemporary ready-to-wear Ziosongzio and youth-centric Zzero Songzio.

Being steeped in art history is a plus for designers, according to Song, who holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from Columbia University. “Classical art history is usually the source of inspiration for me. It’s so pure,” Song said, explaining how he gets new ideas often by revisiting the classics or just by chance.

Designs need a narrative to sell, Song said, describing how having a story behind each designer piece demonstrates the designer’s commitment to fashion.

“There is no shortcut to having your stories recognized. Don’t stop, persevere until the moment finds you,” Song said.