I think it’s safe to say that Eudon Choi is having a moment. Since scooping up the Vauxhall Fashion Scout Merit Award in 2010 Choi has gone from strength to strength with features in virtually every major fash mag under the sun and stockists including Selfridges and Avenue 32 confirming his rising star status. The designer’s first on-schedule show gathered rave reviews last season and he followed it up with an equally stellar collection for SS13. Oh and as it turns out, he’s also utterly lovely to boot.
I caught up with Eudon to get the inside scoop on life as one of the fashion world’s favourite new designers…
LPA: From what I can gather, you were hired as a Senior Designer for All Saints while in your final year of studying at the Royal College of Art. Tell me about that…
EC: I got offered the position a year before graduation but they agreed to hold the job for me while I completed my course. Back then there weren’t really any schemes to support international students so when the opportunity with All Saints came along it was great. It might not necessarily have been my first choice of brands in terms of its’ handwriting because, as you see now, I have a very clean style but they offered me the position, they were willing to wait and they supported my visa so I just thought why not! At that time All Saints didn’t really have very strong tailoring and they loved the tailoring project I did at RCA so they wanted to bring me in to establish that side of things for them.
LPA: Do you feel that the experience of designing high street fashion has influenced the approach you take to your high end collections?
EC: The main reason I decided to go to All Saints was that it was just such an amazing offer on the table while I was studying but I also remembered reading a particular article at the time about designers like Phoebe Philo bringing a youthful element to high fashion and I thought that working at All Saints could offer me the opportunity to explore what young girls wanted to wear myself. I’m from Korea and wasn’t really aware of the UK market so it has been great to be able to bring that cool, British, high street style to my own collections and now I’d say that my brand sits between designer and contemporary. Working at a big, high street brand like All Saints was also a great experience in terms of learning the administration side of things which is really invaluable now I’m running my own label.
LPA: Your RCA graduate collection was picked up by one of the most prestigious stockists any designer could hope for, Dover Street Market. Why did you then go to work as a senior designer for Twenty8Twelve rather than setting up your own label straight away?
EC: When I got the job offer from Twenty8Twelve it was a really exciting time for the label. Straight after I joined we were made our on-schedule debut at LFW and there was so much buzz about the brand and people were saying it was the hottest ticket of the season which was amazing. It was also another great experience to have before doing my own collections because I learned how to put together a show and we got to work with great casting directors and stylists. But I did find it challenging working at Twenty8Twelve because everything was made in China and then the recession started so we weren’t allowed to go and actually meet the people working on the collections. Instead everything just had to be written on an excel sheet and sent over by email so there wasn’t any human interaction. Now, for my label I cut every pattern myself and then I get involved in the process of sampling and working one-to-one with my seamstress and doing all the final tweaks for the collection… In some ways my time at Twenty8Twelve was a frustrating time for me as a designer because the way we worked meant that sometimes samples didn’t come back as I expected. That was useful for me in the long run as having to use excel sheets meant that everything had to be spot on and every detail possible completely explained but a year was definitely enough and I really missed making the clothes myself so that’s why I decided to leave and start my own collection. I was just really craving something really beautifully made that reflected what was in my head. I didn’t start it as a serious business, more just to enjoy making something myself. I was just lucky in that I got support from sales and PR agencies and then I got an amazing platform from Vauxhall Fashion Scout, I’m incredibly grateful for that.
LPA: Despite only having launched your label in 2009, your work seems to have a recognisable and very covetable style. How did you develop your aesthetic? And how do you manage to retain it while producing something new each season?
EC: Well, that’s a really interesting question as I actually ask myself the same thing every season… What is my handwriting? What is my signature? I just try to be really true to myself and believe in my instincts. I think having a clear aesthetic is one of the things that separates some designers from others. For example Alaia, with any of his pieces you can instantly tell it’s by Azzedine Alaia. I think that’s it’s still a really early stage to identify my signature. I’m really pleased that you said it seems like I have a clear aesthetic but at the same time I’m still refining what I like and developing from previous collections. For for contemporary labels I think it’s really important to be relevant to the times so as well as keeping my own signature I’m also constantly trying to keep things fresh.
LPA: I can imagine that as a fashion designer, there could often be a conflict between letting your imagination run wild and producing a collection that is wearable and therefore commercially viable. How do you strike a balance between the two?
EC: I think that’s actually one of my rare talents! This season was really exciting for us. We were on-shedule for AW12 and also got sponsorship from LYCRA through the WGSN Global Fashion Awards Emerging Talent Awards which enabled me to explore a lot of different fabrics. Lycra is a stretchy bodycon fabric and I’m not exactly a bodycon designer so it was great to explore the fibre and it resulted in something amazing with a really contemporary, modern feel. It’s funny I used this wacky 3D mesh fabric because I wanted to push myself and produce some striking show pieces and then it turned out so wearable! Whatever I touch just seems to become really wearable. I think it’s because of my personal taste and the fact that the aim of my label is to offer something interesting but also something wearable and desirable… Those are the key things to success. Wearable pieces can still be interesting. I think a prime example is Stella McCartney. Everything she does is so wearable but you also wanna touch it and look as it!
LPA: From the interviews I’ve done, I get the impression that every designer has a creative process that’s personal to them. Do you have a system or series of stages you go through each season?
EC: I do actually! I need to start my new collection pretty soon so I’m currently gathering inspiration but the crucial part of the process is always horrendous. The agony of the creativity… creating something new. I’m not doing anything all that groundbreaking but I do struggle with the pressure, especially now I show on-schedule and my collections are featured on Style.com… People can easily just look them up so in some ways it gets harder and harder as the brand grows but you have to just look at the positive side because being under pressure pushes you to do a better job and makes you work harder. Once I’m past the initial stages which make me so anxious and just start making the pieces I get going and it’s fine. A lot of people say I’m super organized and I wasn’t at first but I actually I think I am now. We finish the collection a week before Fashion Week which is great because then we can just focus on the model castings and prep for the show.
LPA: What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers hoping to one day launch their own brand?
EC: Do you know, it’s really clichéd but this is the same I advice I got given: believe in yourself and then be true to yourself and keep do what you’re doing. That’s the key to success I think.
Love Ella. X