As an independent designer, it’s not easy to start your own line and make a name for yourself. That doesn’t stop Yune Ho, a hugely talented newcomer hailing from Seoul, from labeling himself as one of the lucky ones.
“I’ve been really lucky. Not that many designers are picked up the first collection, but I’ve been picked up by great stores. So far, really good buyers carry my stuff. I’m really pretty lucky. I’m a lucky person, I think.”
Like many designers before him, Ho felt a call to New York City, a place that magnetically attracted him despite the fact that he had never been there.
“I’m from Korea, and I spent almost half of my life there, and then I moved to New York. I feel like New York is the center of fashion and art. A lot of people ask me, why don’t you go to London or Paris? A lot of people think Europe is the best place for fashion. I don’t know why--I had never been here before-- I just fell in love with the city.”
In his early days in New York, Ho found early success working for some of the biggest names in fashion, like Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Helmut Lang, and Marc Jacobs. Unlike many of his peers, Ho is far from jaded about New York, and credits the city itself with inspiring him to start his own collection.
“I go to Europe, I’ve been to Asia so many times, but every time I go there, I miss New York. I feel, I think, like I’m missing something when I’m there. So whenever I feel that way, I think New York is the place, New York is the thing. I express myself well here. That’s why I’m here—that’s why I’m doing my collection in New York City.
Despite his love for New York and its creative denizens, Ho explains that he does not design specifically for a New York woman, or a Korean one.
Still, much of Ho’s design philosophy comes courtesy of his home continent.
“In my philosophy, aesthetically, I like Asian things—Japanese and Korean. Whenever I design something, not only design, even my life, wabi-sabi is my philosophy. Wabi-sabi is Japanese: it’s imperfection is beauty. It’s one my philosophies.”
The three collections that Yune Ho has completed since started his line in 2012 contain new shapes in often unexpected dimensions, like hugely oversized shorts paired with baggy short-sleeved sweaters. The novelty of the shapes he creates, Ho explains, is inspired by traditional Asian costume.
“Western costume and eastern costume are different from each other. Eastern costume is more 2-dimensional—flat, you know, like paper. But when you put on the costume, it creates dimension. So in some of my designs you can see it’s very Asian—it’s totally flat.”
As for specific inspiration, Ho doesn’t seek it out:
“Inspiration is always in the air. I do not search for my inspiration, I just feel it, and I’m doing it.”
For example, last summer he went to a Palm Springs, and fell in love with its environment, which he calls “very modern and very chic, very raw and organic.” His next collection took shape in the three days that followed.
The collection he created last fall was inspired by a book about minimal architects he found at The Strand, containing the work of architects like Tadao Ando and I.M. Pei.
He describes their philosophy:
“They always think of the building as one big figure. So, I got the inspiration—it doesn’t need to be just one sweater or just one pant. I am designing a whole figure. That’s why my last collection came out like that.”
Though Ho’s pieces often take a bold stance on scale and proportion, his design philosophy is informed by a love of minimalism, in both life and art.
“Minimalism is always there, it’s not a trend. It’s one of the aesthetic elements. Minimalism is every day, every way. It’s timeless. Timeless things are classic right now. I always love to see minimalism in art.”
He pulls out his phone, where he has screenshotted a quote that he came across that inspired him. It’s from an interview with Nicholas Ghesquière, of Louis Vuitton.
The quote says: “I’m not afraid of simplifying.”
“I love this quote. Minimalism is not just a concept— it’s every day things. People are crazy right now. Everything is too perfect, and too much. People tend to start editing their lives.”
“When I design, I start with a lot of detail and craziness. But, at the end of the day, I always edit. Let’s say, first I put two pockets. At the end of the day, they’ll be no pockets. Editing is so important. In the end, it’s minimalist with a lot of unexpected details.”
“It’s funny, I love basic. Basic to me is classic. Let’s just say, you know, cheap brands, national brands, they do basic. They do a crew neck t-shirt. But it’s different from, let’s just say, a Céline t-shirt. Minimalism looks really easy. It’s really hard. Putting a lot of things is much easier than editing down. Doing the minimal thing is really hardcore.”
“I like genderless things. I like the really feminine girl wearing the boyfriend jacket. If you see my collection in person, you notice that if I use a very feminine detail or silhouette, I always use men’s fabric. If i do a men’s silhouette, like tailored jacket, I try to do a feminine fabric. There’s always a lot of contrast.”
As a final question, we asked Yune Ho if there’s any fashion trends he simply cannot stand.
He answers that he cannot stand when people wear what he calls “Donald Duck shoes.”
When asked to elaborate, he explains:
“It’s a really big shoe. It’s so weird. You know what I’m talking about.” Just to make sure he draws a sketch of one. (pictured here)
His other pet peeves? “Skinny, skinny pants. We’re over it. I finally feel sick of it. And really crazy high heels. Of course a heel is beautiful. Sometimes I wanna be a girl because i want to wear beautiful shoes.”
Still, he retains his signature optimism, and acknowledges that someday these trends will come back, and he’ll probably end up liking them again.
“To be honest with you, I’m not the kind of person that can hate something like that. I always respect people’s taste, BUT, those shoes I drew...!
All joking aside, Yune Ho ends our interview with a humble note on his belief in himself as a designer.
From where we’re standing, it looks like he is well on his way to accomplishing that goal. Check out his site to see and learn more of Yune's designs.
By Lauren McInnes