Following its first debut collection at Pitti Uomo’s Concept Korea, Beyond CLOSET will return to Pitti 95 with an homage to American preppy culture and the iconic work of legendary photographer Slim Aarons. Designer Tae Yong Ko talks to Sofia Celeste about how the color navy has been woven throughout history and will play the role of protagonist in his upcoming show.
Sofia Celeste: Welcome back to Pitti Uomo once again for Concept Korea. Looking back, how has showing at Pitti Uomo helped propel your brand?
Tae Yong Ko: Showing at Pitti Uomo and becoming a brand with Pitti Uomo runway experience, has helped us attract buyers from not only the European and US markets, but also Asian customers.
SC: Tae, you seem to have a penchant for dandyism and American vibe. This time you look to photographer Slim Aarons. How will this translate into your collection that will unfurl at Pitti Uomo 95?
TYK: The theme of this season is NAVY. NAVY is also an abbreviation for “New Archive of Valuable Years.”
It’s a look back into the best years and the moments I have cherished most. I also looked back into when I was a child and reinterpreted items from my youth into a modern style. My most cherished mementos include New York Yankees, Harley Davison and Military paraphernalia.
SC: How is this relationship between the worlds of South Korean and Italian fashion flourishing in your opinion?
TYK: Under the influence of social media platforms such as Instagram and Youtube, it seems there isn’t any barrier between the two countries anymore.
SC: What elements of Italian fashion and tradition have you woven into your collections?
TYK: Classic is forever. Classic is the most elegant but basic at the same time. These classical elements will never vanish, even after an infinite number of new trends come to pass... and I always refer to the classics when I design a collection.
SC: How do you achieve a fresh look? What alternative materials do you use?
TKY: For each season I spend time on new graphics, materials, techniques and explore new colour combinations.
SC: Who is the Beyond Closet man? Is he young? Is he Korean? Does he live in a digital age? Please explain.
TYK: BEYOND CLOSET is all about fashion beyond a closet... a man’s passion and thoughts regarding the originality of fashion.
The Beyond CLOSET fall winter 2019/20 talks about the origin and perception of “NAVY” as a basic and classic colour, which has been passed down through wars, revolutions and throughout a human’s lifetime.
SC: You have collaborated with popular pop musician MIKA and have launched other ventures like opening a food truck at the JW Marriot Hotel in Seoul. People say you are very business oriented. How do you balance an entrepreneurial spirit and your passion for design?
TYK: I try to find a balance between entrepreneurial spirit and my passion for design by finding a midpoint between what I personally want to do
and what my audience can grasp. Beyond Closet stays flexible enough that the brand is open to any possibilities.
SC: Seoul is such an inspirational city and that is really where you launched your career as the youngest designer to debut at Seoul fashion week. How is the city integral to your designs?
TYK: Seoul has been getting more attention than ever before, due in large part to the dawn of K-POP, K-BEAUTY and K-FASHION. The city’s people and places are a big part of my designs. Things in Seoul change easily and quickly, but the key is finding a way to stay constant in this ever-changing environment.