KOMONO x Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp
What made you decide to study fashion?
When I was 15, a couple of fashion students came to my school in Korea and explained their studies. During the presentation, they showed some of the work they did. It was the first time, I really felt attracted by fashion. They had images of models wearing their dresses, the composition and light really made the clothes stand out. Before that, I never thought of pursuing a career in this industry but seeing them living their passion, it became clear it was also a path I needed to choose.
Why did you choose The Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp for your education? And why is Antwerp so special for you?
It was quite evident. I had always admired the work of one of their former students, Martin Margiela. Then I also came across Manon Kündig and immediately fell in love with her style. For me, it was the kind of fashion I wanted to make, the fashion of tomorrow. I did some research on her background and where she studied and found out she graduated from the Antwerp Academy. This really brought me to decide to start my studies in Antwerp. Surprisingly, Manon is now one of my mentors at school.
What inspires you the most?
I mostly find inspiration in my daily life. This can be small, rather insignificant activities such as small-talk with friends, reading comic books or even watching anime.
What is the story behind the collection and how do the glasses join the story?
The whole collection started with one phrase ‘’it’s cold, I’m just chilling’’. I was inspired by winter and combined this with the idea of sitting at home on the sofa. The overall atmosphere transmits a certain coldness and conveys my feelings of being lonely and longing for family as an international student in a foreign country. The glasses are direct results of this, a combination of the form of couches with this quite winterly feel.
What makes your style unique?
I have a good sense for observation, meaning, I do not just watch things and people, I try to really see and observe. I look at small details or even funny, little particularities in objects or situations. I understand and pay attention to things that most people don’t see and use these observations and ideas to enrich my collection. Detail is very important for me.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
Eventually I would like to become a teacher in Korea and transfer my knowledge and skills to the younger generation. I see myself working as a fashion designer in Europe first and develop my voice as a designer. I also like to venture more into arts as I’m interested in dance, music, painting and performance.
When and how did you first became attracted to fashion?
I don’t have one specific memory, it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. Even at the age of 11, I was already drawing clothes. It’s something that has been growing and developing over time. I tried to look at other pursuits, but nothing seemed quite as appealing.
What is it, in particular, about fashion that appeals you?
Through clothes, you are able to tell a story and especially here in the Academy, you have the opportunity to create a whole world around it. If it was just about clothes, I would feel it could become quite superficial. It’s more interesting to go deeper into the atmosphere and the overall theme of the collection.
How did you came to study at the Royal Academy?
Funnily enough, it was the only academy who actually accepted my application. After high school, I applied to all the top fashion schools but I found that Antwerp is the only one where they more look at talent and less at your past experiences. I’ve always had an interest in the Antwerp fashion scene after seeing a documentary about the Belgian avant-garde in the 80s so eventually, I was really relieved to get in.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I feel inspiration is not something I consciously look or search for. When making a collection, I try to not let it get inside my head too much. I like to read books or meet with people who are not into fashion. There I can find ideas that I can translate into my work. A collection can also be more intimate and talk about my personal history or feeling and emotions I have at a particular moment.
What is your collection about and how did you use the glasses to tell your story?
It’s very much a throwback to who I was before I came to Antwerp and joined the Academy. It’s about finding my voice in a grown-up world. The setting is a forest rave and I have this need to belong within this particular group of people around me. Everyone else is almost twice my age and I don’t want anyone to notice that I’m actually still a teenager. The sunglasses have a direct link to the rave. In Stockholm, raves happen over summer when nights are short and the sun comes up very early. People keep on dancing, even though is it no longer completely dark. So you put on sunglasses as you don’t want the daylight to hit your eyes so early in the morning. The glasses are referencing this, as well as the dichotomy between nature and the artificial part of the rave. It’s strobe lights and electricity combined with the forest and leaves.
What is the most important message you want to convey with your collection?
Inclusivity. I want it to be aimed at everyone, no matter what gender you are, where you’re from or how old you are.
What is your biggest dream?
I hope to establish myself as an independent designer within the few years. My biggest dream is to be successful in what I do. I don’t have to be Karl Lagerfeld, I just want to be happy and feel proud of my work.
Where does your interest in fashion come from?
In a way, I’ve always been into fashion. Growing up in Antwerp, its fashion scene felt quite closeby, even from an early age on. I must have been like 9 and was already looking at beauty ads and fashion in magazines. When my mom took me and my sister to the Academy’s graduate show, I discovered that fashion can become your business and profession. Ten years later, I did my entrance exam and got accepted.
What excites you within fashion?
Fashion is a very visible thing, it creates an image. The graphical side of it interests me a lot. I always start from a two-dimensional image and then think of how it can be transformed into clothing.
What does The Royal Academy signify for you on a personal level?
I had such a connection with the Academy from an early age on and it very much created my idea of what fashion is and should be. All people that came out of this school, developed such a strong and individual vision. It’s something they push really hard in this school. They have this artistic approach in which they let you free within your own process. It means you get to make your own mistakes and learn from them. It really offered me a way to get to know myself more and learn about my strengths and weaknesses.
What drives you?
The push for something new. If something is very visual, I start thinking about how to translate that into a fashion context. Everything that I get inspired by, is somehow linked to fashion. For me, it’s important that there is always a relation to clothing or at least a connection to it.
What did you want to achieve with your eyewear capsule?
My main goal is to create the effect of make-up in eyewear. As make-up is always applied onto the skin, I was interested in transforming it into an object or accessory that can easily be put on and off.
How do you see your future within the industry?
I want to internd at various brands to learn how the industry works and how I can apply all my knowledge I gathered in school. I do think that at one point, I would like to create my own collection again. I don’t feel I would want to work my whole life realizing the vision of someone else. You work so hard at the Academy to develop your own voice, it would feel weird to me to then not use it.
How did you came about studying fashion?
I have always been working with architecture and industrial design, but never felt fulfilled in an artistic way. Within fashion, I found this more artistic approach that I was always looking for.
How does fashion relate to your artistic side?
I enjoy the fact that you are actually creating something real. You have something coming from your head to your paper to finally, you make it into an actual object. It’s very much an ongoing process of designing, sketching, sewing, etc. I make everything so I can really go into the technical side of it all which is very interesting once you mix it with the artistic.
Why did you decide to study at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts?
I choose the Academy of Antwerp because it embodies my interest in fashion, design and art. You have this artistic approach which I was looking for at that time. It's also in Antwerp, my city, and it's probably one of the most affordable and really good fashion schools in the world.
What is your method in approaching fashion?
I'm a researcher; I can go really deep into a particular subject or theme. It can be either in a graphical way or more in a conceptual manner. These subjects then get combined within one larger story.
What was your approach in particular for the eyewear capsule?
I started putting together the collection after watching ‘’Ex Machina’’, this really polished movie about artificial intelligence. The whole aesthetic is based on laboratories and has this very clean feel to it. The idea of playing with a mask for this project appealed to me a lot. I started to do research into the negative space of objects in order to create a new kind of space.
What do you feel you have to contribute within the fashion system?
Besides an artistic sensibility, I also have a very technical point of view when approaching fashion. I come from an industrial design background and feel this is what makes me stand out. I’m always thinking how to change and improve certain standards.
What are your goals moving forward?
I hope I will be successful in what I’m doing, my biggest dream is to run my own company. Not necessarily in fashion, more in design. Maybe even collide both worlds, we will see what crosses my path.
KOMONO x ROYAL ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS ANTWERP FASHION DEPARTMENT
"We are proud to introduce our collaboration with the fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. An incubator for new talent and innovative design, the Academy has been on the forefront of global fashion since the rise of the Antwerp Six and remains one of its most influential voices. Out of our mutual interest for experimentation and innovation, we present you a capsule created by four graduate students. With its exploration of innovative forms, search for new colour combinations and pursue for the original treatment of materials, the collection reimagines the eyewear of tomorrow."