Peter Donghun Han redefines the questions “Where are you from” as he aims to represent his generation with his stylised menswear collection. The Royal College of art alumnus encapsulates a sense of belonging in each garment, as he aims to define the floating identities, an undeniable product of globalisation. As part of the December Harper’s Bazaar UK Global Young Talent, we spoke to the Korean designer about personal narratives and how he seamlessly translates this into a sophisticated stand-alone collection.
1. You’re originally from South-Korea, and moved to London to pursue a degree in fashion design, where does your interest for fashion stem from and why did you decide to move to Europe for your studies?
I’m South Korean, and I have lived there for most of my life. I briefly lived in Minnesota, USA when I was about 10 years old and ended up leaving again when I was 12. Obviously, two years isn’t that long but it left a lasting impression on my perspective on floating identities in the present. For me, the idea of diverse racial, cultural landscapes and how there interact with one another, is genuinely the most interesting thing to reinterpret with fashion. That’s why I chose London, it’s diversity itself.
"For me, the idea of diverse racial, cultural landscapes and how there interact with one another, is genuinely the most interesting thing to reinterpret with fashion. That’s why I chose London, it’s diversity itself."
2. Your graduate collection is about the youth generation and identity, what inspired this topic and how is it explored throughout your collection?
The title of the collection is “Where are you from?”. I wanted to represent our generation and the time in which we all live. It is inspired by my surroundings and the process of my growth. I want the collection to be more than just garments, but rather a collection of voices about this new global phenomenon of floating identities. I’ve done this collection in collaboration with 4 of my friends who I have met in London. From the very beginning of the process to the end, they were fully involved. We shared our stories, I then translated these into garments and we each ended up modelling for the final campaign.
3. Your collection is focused around the stories of changing identities of four of your friends, how is their personal narrative interlaced with your work?
My work is all about communicating and making representations of ourselves. For my collection, clothes were more like a uniform. I wouldn’t say the stories were directly interpreted through my design, but rather in the design process. From the fitting to making them wear my garments, their stories and identities are interlaced with every aspect of my work. Through the collection, I wanted to allow people to have a personal attachment to the clothes and feel comfortable in the community we stand for. Anyone who can identify themselves with the stories or understand them can be my hero.
"I want the collection to be more than just garments, but rather a collection of voices about this new global phenomenon of floating identities."
4. Your collection features a relaxed approached to tailored looks, what sets your collection aside in terms of pattern-cutting and craftsmanship?
I wanted my collection to feel as if you are wearing a uniform, more in the sense of something you can wear every day and feeling the best in the present. Therefore, when it comes to the choosing of fabrics and pattern-cutting, I’d tried to listen to the wearer’s opinions on not just clothing but also their lives.
5. What have you learnt during your time at university and what tips do you have for future fashion students?
I believe everyone is in a different position. Every single person went through something different, grew up in the different cultural background, has received education in a different way, thinks differently and obviously has their own specific goals or something they want to achieve. Accordingly, I want to tell them and even to myself, “keep finding what your voice is”, “believe in your intuition”, and “it is a long run”.
"I wanted my collection to feel as if you are wearing a uniform, more in the sense of something you can wear every day and feeling the best in the present."
Discover Peter Donghun Han's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens