For your collection, you wanted to develop a “new made-to-order” system. Can you talk to us a bit about that?
Made-to-order sounds impressive and all, but at the time, I went for it only because I didn’t have any other means of production. In this way, you can produce in small amounts. Following the traditional production system, a designer needs to have made a thousand or five hundred pieces ready to sell. I started thinking about how I could survive as a brand and made-to-order was my method of choice.
I don’t intend to reject the method of the past but it’s not viable anymore. For now, our couture line only gets orders, so in this way, I can focus more on the design, making the amount that’s needed, not producing any surplus.
For instance, the pink dress is made out of flower packaging that gets thrown away. I bought those 2 years ago and they only had 5-6 rolls of that fabric. I measured the fabric and it was just enough for two dresses. If we mass-produced, we wouldn’t even be able to make a sample of that.
“Why don’t people make pockets for women when all you need is a little bit more fabric?” – Jaden Cho
A new generation of designers advocate for values such as sustainability but they often feel pressured to do so and even feel like it’s unfair, since the previous generation of designers could afford to be more indulgent.
At RCA, tutors told us that we don’t need to make clothes and that there are too many clothes already out there. I felt that this was unfair and oppressive. Why should we make clothes out of leftovers when they could make them out of silk and jewels? I wanted to use quality silk and cotton too. But after doing two collections, I simply want all my clothes to have an owner since we worked so hard on them. We can’t abandon sustainability but we also can’t expect garments to be one hundred per cent sustainable. Now I’m wondering how I can create more beautiful things for myself, for society, and how to be frugal or less frugal without getting too much backlash.
Sustainability can mean many things. In your new collection, the garments are so versatile. Reversible knitwears, two-in-one piece suit, and pants-skirt combination, clearly keep women’s comfort in mind. In order for a brand to make more profit, they need to make and sell multiple pieces and it seems like your collection is the opposite of that strategy. Other than the environmental side of sustainability, are you being sustainable in a sense of feminism or financial stability?
My motto is “Maybe we can’t make women feel comfortable, but we cannot make them uncomfortable.” We have pockets for dresses, skirts, jackets, you name it. It’s an obsession of mine. When I research, I barely see any pockets for womenswear. I like to put my AirPods or masks in my pocket and women don’t even have an outer pocket. Why don’t people make pockets for women when all you need is a little bit more fabric?
I learned about sustainability for the first time in the UK. Other than using less fabric and colours, I reflected on whether there is a type of sustainability that I had inside me. It was the notion that I want every garment to have an owner. I really try to avoid making a t-shirt because no matter how luxurious it is, it’s worn out in a couple of years. The clothes that I make are complex, heavy and highly decorative that even if you don’t wear them anymore it is unlikely that you’d throw them away in a bin. I don’t throw away a well-made jacket even if it’s out of style. I feel sorry for it.