Glass meets … New York-based emerging designer Soonil

SOUTH Korean-born womenswear designer Soonil Kwon has not strayed far from his artistic influences. Born into a family of art collectors and fashion entrepreneurs, his journey to becoming a designer was paved and somewhat determined from his early years. Kwon graduated from fashion design at Parsons, The New School of Design, New York. Sinc then he travelled around globe before finally returning to the US to take on New York’s fashion scene by establishing his eponymous brand Soonil.

SOON ILDesigner Soonil. Photograph: Ssam Kim

SOON IL1Designer Soonil with model. Photograph: Ssam Kim


How did you come to start your own line?
After I finished Parsons womenswear design course, a model friend of mine wore some clothes that I had designed. Various street magazines naturally started to take interest of the clothes during both Paris and New York Fashion Week and, with this opportunity, I decided to start my own line.

Do you have any family member who is related to fashion? Please tell us more about your family background.
My older sister worked in fashion business. Both my sister and mother always had an interest in fashion. I have to say that my interest in the industry was something that naturally grew in me as I got older. My memories from when I was younger still play a big role in my work today.

SOON IL2Design by Soonil. Photograph: Ssam Kim

You have launched your line in New York. What made you choose New York?
I first started studying fashion in New York. Having studied and lived in New York for a while, it was the most natural and comfortable place to showcase my ideas. I eventually want to work on collections in cities including Paris and Milan.

What is the most challenging part to you being a fashion designer in New York?
Despite New York being a city where almost everything is possible, as the designer of a smaller label brand, there have been some obstacles in fabrication and execution along the way. From working within such boundaries, I find that I continue to learn to overcome and solve problems while I work.

SOON IL5Design by Soonil. Photograph: Ssam Kim

Compared to other European designers, New York designers seem to focus on customer response and commerce rather than to focus on design creativity. How about you? How you do you balance creativity with commerce?
I try to express my personality in all my pieces. Advice and responses from people around me also play a big role in my work. On the other hand, when there is something I want to do, I don’t let criticize stop me from my work.

Where do you go for inspiration? What inspires you the most?
For the most part, I try to walk around everywhere I go. I wouldn’t say there is a specific place I seek to find inspiration; it usually changes from time to time.

SOON IL3Design by Soonil. Photograph: Ssam Kim

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
The basis of Soonil is the combination of fabrication and colour being classic yet elegant to be able to embrace and enhance the bodyline.

What makes you different with other designers?
I try to work on what I enjoy and excel at the most rather than following trends.

SOON IL4Design by Soonil. Photograph: Ssam Kim

Can you tell us about your SS17 collection?
While I was preparing the collection, one of my beloved dogs passed away.That given, many cherished memories of us have influenced this collection. In its entirety, the collection is very feminine and gentle with the material being light.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years times?
I believe that in ten years time, Soonil will have become a larger brand that it is today. Other than that, I hope to continue to design in a traditional fashion house as a creative director.

by Ssam Kim

All photographs: Ssam Kim
Hair and Make-up: Taming Chen
Model: Alina Bobyleva@supreme

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