The Creators Project: Tell us a bit about your fashion label.
Suh Sangyoung: The Suh Sangyoung brand is very casual. It’s designed for anyone and everyone, but at the same time has a contemporary feel and emotions based on the young population.
Is that also how you'd define your style and design?
Basically, we pursue a basic style. And since we work in Korea, we do have a lot of designs that are very decorative. How can I explain this?... It almost feels like clothes that put on makeup? Of course, wearing clothes is different from putting on a makeup, but I think people tend to think that putting on clothes is the same as putting on a makeup. So we try to make clothing that doesn’t lose focus. We start from the very base and we are very meticulous in the process.
Most people consider you a next generation designer. What do you think about that?
I think the only reason I am considered a "next generation" is because I’m still young. Because my predecessors have already accomplished a lot of things, I can use them as a stepping-stone to think about what I should do and my role as a young designer.
Were you influenced when you were young to become a fashion designer?
I was born at the time when there were only three TV channels, and obviously no internet. So it was hard to get in contact with a lot of the movies and music. But I was a very curious child and felt like I needed to watch them. So watched and listened through ways that were illegal at the time. After listening to certain music I started wondering what the musician looked like, his thoughts, and how he developed his music. It made me very curious. So the only way to satisfy this curiosity is to physically find out on your own.
Which is interesting because you really made your name through what you refer to as your "Online Collection."
It was around 2005 or 2006 that we started thinking that the internet was a very significant factor. For example, in order for us to look at new things or new collections, we did so through the internet. Ultimately, the internet allows what offline shows cannot achieve in terms of time and space. In a lot of ways we thought it was an intelligent method and choice. But at the time we were troubled by the technicalities that internet has to go through. When we first used a camcorder, the maximum width of a video allowed on the website was about big as a pack of cigarettes. And it didn’t make sense for a fashion collection to be shown through such a tiny shape and form, so we started questioning how to make the size bigger. The conclusion we came to was… I don’t really know the proper term for this, but you know that camera where it takes like six or seven shots in one second? We basically shot it with that and connected it through the Flash program.
What was the effect?
The idea was like those comics drawn on the corner of a book and flipped through to become a motion picture. The show had a running time of maybe about 10 or 12 minutes and the photographs that we took exceeded more than 10,000. So this was what we thought out in order to overcome the technological limits at the time. But because we had over 10,000 pictures, picking out the best pictures and basically managing the process was extremely difficult.
What do you think are the pros and cons of the fashion industry in Korea?
The con is that the pace is too fast. From a designer’s perspective, I believe that time and effort is an important factor for a label to grow and age. But in Korea I don’t think time is respected. They want quick results, but that’s just not how things work. For a new brand to make an impact there needs to be enough time. Really? The whole atmosphere of impatience is just a shame. Yet the pro of designing in South Korea is that the pace is fast. [laughs.] So at the same time, the fast pace is a pro and a con. People accept new things quickly and throw away the old also quickly.