Velvit Welcomes Chaos From Undermind
Velvit welcomes Young Jae Cho, the designer and chief behind the South Korean label CHAOS FROM UNDERMIND, who's medium of preference is leather, and color of choice is black
Young Jae Cho talks to Velvit about his path to becoming a fashion designer, his fascination with human psychology, and the dark side of the mind in which his label is inspired by. Along with his two design associates, Hojin Jung and Koonwey Park, he creates immaculate collections all from the heart of South Korea.
Velvit: Did you always know you wanted to be in fashion?
Young Jae Cho: Growing up in South Korea, I was just a kid who liked drawing; scribbling and dreaming. I could spend my whole day with a paper and pencil. Initially, my first dream was to be a painter. This probably an influence from my mom. From my childhood memories, I still remember the pile of old books about drawing and painting, which were my mom's favorites. She wasn't an artist herself, but really fascinated by drawing and painting. So, naturally, I followed the path toward the path of the arts. Since I was very young I was eager to learn how to make clothing, and soon, my future would be an extension of painting; fashion would be the medium I would express my thoughts and dreams.
V: Where did you study fashion?
YJC: I studied clothing and textile at the Catholic University of Korea. It was one of the most valuable experiences I had in Uni; where I could learn the techniques of garment making. After I graduated, I flew to London, where I tried to make clear and evaluate myself as a designer.
V: How did traveling to London assist in starting your line?
YJC: While in London, I made sure to diversify my fashion experience: I was a sales assistant in high fashion boutique, did collaboration work for editorial fashion photoshoot, and had many opportunities to network with people in the fashion industry from around the world. But what I made sure to focus on was developing my own label. During my stay in London, I fine tuned my techniques and established my point of view.
V: Where did the name of your line originate from?
YJC: The name CHAOS FROM UNDERMIND came from the psychology lecture I took.
V: What was it about this lecture that helped inspire the name?
YJC: I am very interested in the aspects of the human mind, especially how people deal with the darker side of their mind. Maybe this interest came from my teenage years --- family stuff and the negative sides of all the rules and regulations you must abide to as a member of society. I began to formulate my own answers about this "darker side" of the mind, what ever state an individuals mind may be in. I think of this as our secret chamber of darkness, the double sidedness of conscious and subconscious. So I named my label CHAOS FROM UNDERMIND - darkness in subconscious.
Through CHAOS FROM UNDERMIND, I want to express how human being may deal with this darker sided mind through my garments. Most of my garments have the hidden parts or elements of inside-out as I want to express the chamber of darkness of human beings' mind.
V: When were you able to start your label? What was the point that influenced you to finally start?
YJC: I was able to CHAOS FROM UNDERMIND in early 2014, but I started the leg-ground work in my early 20's. I've always been thinking about it, but wasn't brave enough to start. The main trigger of starting was the people I met in London. Most of them were younger than me, but had already started their own labels and work. It was definitely something that hit close to home. Being young and possibly careless didn't stop these people from going after what they wanted, what mattered was how badly they wanted it. So as soon as I came back to South Korea from London, I started the foundation of making my label. From that point, "show and prove" has been my motto of my life.
V: Can you tell us a little about your process in creating your collections?
YJC: It takes a lot of time for me to be inspired, most of which time being spent alone. I converse with myself about all kinds of things. This is the most important part of my creating collections. After I've had some time to think and conceptualize, I draw the rough images of the entire collections. My initial sketches aren't just the basic development sketches, they're more like drawings of one scene of my imagination. I try to think of the collection as a whole image, rather than thinking about each piece or detail of the garments. Because the collection as a whole is what tells the story.
V: When you are in this inspiration mode conceptualizing your collection, is there any other form of inspiration you pull from besides the inspiration for your brand?
YJC: A lot of it comes from my surroundings. I wouldn't say that I negative person, but most of them are from the dark-side or something I feel we have been missing. The resent collection(15-16S/S) for example, is entitled SEE THE UNSEEN - things we have forgotten. I wanted to pull from the traditional costume mood of South Korea, something we have missed while living in this westernized society South Korea has become. We've had kind of dark history in South Korean, something i definitely identify with.
V: You use a lot of leather in your collections. What do you love most about leather as an artistic medium?
YJC: Leather has it's own character. Leather isn't ever perfect and never truly the same. Even one whole sheet of leather has different parts - different thickness, surface, and brightness. Using leather to make clothes gives me a lot of unexpected outcomes. Depending on which leather or which part of the leather I use, the look of each garment is slightly or could be dramatically changed. I do love the beauty that comes from unexpected results. That's why I use leather frequently.
V: What is it about creating in black that you find appealing?
YJC: Because black is simply the colour I like, and I think black is the only one which represents my collection profoundly. It's a colour I think that describes many moods and feelings.
V: Who do you find yourself creating for?
YJC: Well, I don't really think of the clientele, but I hope the people who identify with my point of view are those who understand my side; the cool out-siders.
V: Do you ever pull from artist influences?
YJC: I like hip hop music because It has it's own history about the intrinsic of resistance spirit. They say what they feel about the world and society. I don't have specific favorites though, but recently I've found myself loving and listening to listen Kendrick Lamar's albums.
V: What is the independent artist community like in South Korea?
YJC: The independent designers have started to form a community. From the undeveloped areas, they gather together to make their own culture, like what I image the meatpacking district in NewYork or the bricklane in London. This movement of independent designers are refreshing the street and fashion scene in here in South Korea.
V: How do you feel the fashion scene in Seoul differs from other popular fashion capitals around the world?
YJC: Many young fashion-forward people in South Korea feel confident these days, unlike like the days I remember from back when I was a teenager. They are respecting people's individualities. They know how to mix up their own characters with latest fashion trends. Although the people here are trying their hand at having a unique identity, the fashion scene is not that unique compared to other fashion capitals. But taking a closer look, all of them are different. It's fun to find out the individual details by seeing people on the street. But there is still a lack of braveness here for fashion in South Korea.
V: In what respect do you think fashion in Seoul is similar?
YJC: Following mega trends we see throughout the world, especially in the street-wear scene. Nikes on their feet. Dying for the Jordans. Pigalle hoodies with ma-1 jacket. There are still people here, like in many other cities, that are clones of each other.
V: Black is…
YJC: State of mind.
For more on Young Jae Cho and CHAOS FROM UNDERMIND, please check out our artist profiles and the launch of COVET.