Menswear designer Jaehyeong Bak strips down - quite literally - what fashion means, in a world where individuality seems to push off centre stage, he follows a unique ‘Assemblism’ technique for his designs. Inspired by modular toy design, his sleek meticulously cut collection is meant to be transformed and adapted by the wearer. The London College of Art alumnus now brings his design ideas to the October issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK, read on to discover how the South-Korean designs merge toy-building with fashion.
Tell us a bit about yourself, you graduated from London College of Fashion in Fashion Design, what have you been doing since then?
I have been obsessed with a sense of permanency, especially when it comes to physical objects, where garments can increase in value and be worn over a long period of time, or perhaps even forever. For this reason, I don’t make my garments according to current trends and hypes, I design a garment for people who appreciate my design and design in general. I combined my full-times studies with a job, and this wore me out by the end of the year, so decided to take a step back and relax while enjoying the company of my family and friends. I had the plan to travel Asia, ironically in light of COVID-19, I suddenly had the opportunity to discover all the ins and outs of my home country, South-Korea instead. At the moment I am focusing on preparing myself for a masters course in fashion, I’m looking forward to returning to the UK and study fashion design in even more detail!
"I wanted to change the way of showing the modular functions, and in an attempt to realise this, I standardised fixing equipment which required great amounts of calculation and experimentation."
What stands out about your collection, is the bold use of colour and meticulous pattern cutting, what is the story behind this?
Many factors of my collection turned out to be quite challenging, from the colour to the materials and fabrics and of course the pattern cutting. I have an affinity with structure, a new modular system and in particular with items that can transform. In my collection, I introduced a modular garment, called Acronym. I wanted to change the way of showing the modular functions, and in an attempt to realise this, I standardised fixing equipment which required great amounts of calculation and experimentation. The outcome? A look where nearly every accessory is compatible.
What was the inspiration behind your graduate collection?
My starting point was not distinguished by outer and inner, top and bottom, I was interested in completing one object, and it was merely assembled by an arm, leg, body and a head. This way of thinking is similar to how you create a toy, I applied assembled mechanisms of toy building to my designs. When designing my garments, I took a closer look at the Picatinny rail of a fire gun (toy gun to be specific), it is possible to attach an external device from this firearm, which allows the user to completely transform the original firearm. In other words, there is a collaboration, between the original makers and the attributes added, this was the main system I applied to my designs and which is represented in the word ‘Assemblism’.
"I cannot control my surprise with the Founder’s idea, to discover talented graduate and offer them a platform. Thanks to her, many young talented graduates could achieve their dream earlier than before. It will be an invaluable property in my life."
You are using both our online and office services, how has this experience been for you?
I only knew about fashion design to some degree and marketing a little bit before. But, getting a lot of direct and indirect experience with FCO team, I am getting to know about a new aspect of the fashion industry such as PR, magazine, styling thanks to them, thus, I can develop my macroscopic insight regarding the fashion industry. Besides, I cannot control my surprise with the Founder’s idea, to discover talented graduate and offer them a platform. Thanks to her, many young talented graduates could achieve their dream earlier than before. It will be an invaluable property in my life.
Lastly, what other plans and dreams do you have for yourself and your label?
Data is shared quickly and easily these days, humanity finds it easy to and pursuit efficient and comfortable things. Thus they will converge to one point, in the end, they gradually lose methods to appear their individual taste. In the standardised world, many people lose their identity. However, I believe that fashion is one of a handful of means to show their independent self. So, I would like to proceed building the ‘self’ by using a container with garments made for people who appreciate my taste and build and express their personality. In order to materialise it, my short-term goal is to learn more and hone my skills by enrolling in a masters degree and running a label which will allow me to prioritise the creation of conceptual garments. My label will carry on the aesthetic and design process presented in my BA and MA work, and give it its distinct identity. I would like to improve my label by working on collaborations with brands and making a crossover to products, not in the field of fashion. Furthermore, on the basis of it, finding a way to make a breakthrough in the fashion industry by researching and developing new concept garments, I will always aim to evolve my label.
"I would like to proceed building the ‘self’ by using a container with garments made for people who appreciate my taste and build and express their personality."
Discover Jaehyeong Bak's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens