Interview with Won Jeon, the founder of PAINTERS. Seoul, South Korea based design brand.
MM: Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?
I studied Fashion Design at the Seoul Mode Fashion Institute (2012-2014) and Womenswear at London College of Fashion (2014-2018). I worked at two designer labels called ZEQUUN (in Seoul) and Faustine Steinmetz (in London). After those experiences, I started my label in Seoul.
PAINTERS is focused on developing specific identity and aesthetic in Womenswear through their collections, proposing a different form of beauty. PAINTERS is trying to create new shapes not effected by other tastes or trends. Not only following beautiful faces, garments or proportion like lots of ads, PAINTERS aims to make a new impact—that different people can be accepted within their own level of individual tastes and identity.
PAINTERS tries to cater to people with different beauty and shapes to suggest there are different ideas of form.
MM: What sparked your interest in fashion design?
I do really enjoy seeing other artists’ work in all areas including painting, music and performance art. I would like to see how people express themselves through their artwork and their messages to the world through their work. It makes me think to put deeper meanings in my collections instead of just showing beautiful fashion things. I do also put messages in it.
MM: Can you describe your creative process?
I usually start from all the complaints I feel within me. I was home schooled in Seoul and it isn’t the norm. I think under 10% of students get homeschooled in Seoul. The reason I quit my high school was because I felt unsatisfied on how they tried to teach the same things in the same way to every different type of individual. Some students might be good at art and bad in math. However, our education system defines us only by the total grade—they don't try to find the good things in every individual.
In Seoul, we have world-renowned plastic surgery systems. Wherever you go in Seoul, you can easily find lots of ads that define typical beauty. Further, we have got really fast-fashion and fast trends like K-pop stars, although it makes us grow the K-pop industries worldwide. There is always a bad side and a good side. Therefore, I tried not to follow those systems which try to make individuals all the same. It helps me to think and express different things, the issues in society.
MM: What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?
My favourite part about being a designer is the lifestyle. I mean, designers do lots of creative things and we keep trying to find the interesting things in our daily lives. We keep trying to get new experiences, watch movies, visit museums and try to see world differently—this lifestyle makes us keep awaking.
MM: How do you find working as a designer where your brand is based? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?
It really helps me to think between trends and identities. Moreover, I think Seoul has really good taste in the Arts. Furthermore, we have really good industry systems such as the fabric market, factories, etc. I am very proud of being a South Korean.
MM: In anticipation of your runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week, what are you most looking forward to?
Through the collection called ‘Where the wild things are’, I would like to suggest a different form of beauty again and I hope the audience there will like my work and kind of feel something through my collections.
MM: What is the inspiration behind your S/S20 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?
It started from the movie called ‘Where the wild things are’. I watched it accidentally and suddenly got deep inspiration from it. It’s about a boy trying to escape from the world, so he creates his own world in a small room. He met the wild things in his imagination. The general thoughts of ‘wild things’ is danger but he becomes friends with them. I see many people who judge others by appearances, degrees, and their social status. However, I would love to stand by the ‘wild things’ and try to show their beauty on the inside.
MM: What are you hoping are the reactions from audiences seeing your designs (perhaps for their first time)?
I am aiming that people might see the differences through my collections and not judge people by their appearances, degree, and social status. I want to give people a new insight by showing the differences. I might not be good, however, I will try.