Jingu Jun is a designer based in New York City with a degree in Technical Design from Fashion Institute of Technology. He is the founder and designer of The Last Garment, an organisation dedicated to helping others live a selfhood lifestyle. He explores the narrative and depth that personal style provides to a character. Jingu utilises fabrics as his primary medium to create wearable sculptures designed for individuality, confidence, and lifestyle.
We had the chance to interview him about his work, here's what he had to say...
Solstice: Tell us about yourself. What did you like to do as a child/teenager?
Jingu Jun: I’m a New York-based designer from Korea. When I was young, I didn’t talk very much. I always tried to understand things that nobody really cared about. I didn’t really question anything but kept thinking to gain understanding. I always grew up wanting to express my thoughts to people. I believe thinking and understanding are the most important things in life.
Solstice: How did you get into fashion design?
Jingu Jun: I went to school in a small town in Pennsylvania where we had to wear a uniform and I saw people wearing the same clothes every day. I wondered why I see each person differently even though they wear the same thing? That’s when I got into fashion.After high school, I moved to New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Small towns in Pennsylvania and Manhattan were a huge difference to me. Everyone wears different styles. Each expresses distinctive styles in fashion, but at the same time, it was hard for me to understand people’s true identities hidden under the trend. Even for people with non-trendy fashion, I see people wearing clothes to impress others while they should’ve focused on expressing themselves. That’s when I wanted to become a fashion designer. To help people to express their truest selves.
Solstice: What was the most difficult project you worked on, what are some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Jingu Jun: I graduated with a BS in Technical Design at FIT, and my thesis had to involve some kind of technology. Since I’m not the type of designer with innovative and creative designs, I had a hard time deciding what kind of technology to use. I ended up using a QR code label inside the garments. I liked the idea of connecting what we wear with internet media. I designed a Yoga and Sleep uniform, and connected garments to Yoga guidance and Sleep meditation through the QR code.
Solstice: Describe the process from concept to final realised product, what is your favourite part of the process?
Jingu Jun: I believe there are many elements in designs, and I believe good design is a delicate balance of those elements. Most fashion companies or designers tend to systemise those aspects. Starting from creating silhouettes, choosing fabrics, designing detailed construction then onto patterns… But I do these simultaneously. Developing all aspects at the same time is the most fun part. You get to think and understand every aspect before the outcome, and you get more control of what you first expected the design to be. You can be more you.
Solstice: Which design of yours is your all-time favourite?
Jingu Jun: It is a difficult question since they are all my uniforms for different occasions. But I would say the work uniform. I created a uniform that I want to wear every day to my work. It has to be comfortable and professional, wearable in all four seasons, but also expresses my own style to others by just looking at me.
Solstice: Over the exhibition in TheBlanc Gallery that you did for your new collection, what was the most interesting experience and how did it affect you?
Jingu Jun: I had always been designing privately and personally before the exhibition, which was the first time I made it public. I’ve never thought of my design as creative or innovative and I've never wanted to sell my garments to anyone, but this exhibition surely changed my mind. A lot of people asked and complimented me on how I came up with the design and said they’d never seen garments like these in stores before. I want to hear and know people’s experiences when they wear my design. After all, that was what my purpose of the design is for anyway - being part of their daily life.
Solstice: Do you have any plans for the future?
Jingu Jun: I don’t have any plan for making my design into production currently, but I still like to keep creating what I believe and express my thoughts through it.
Solstice: Can you tell us about your career? What are the highs and lows of being a designer?
Jingu Jun: I don’t see myself as a fashion designer so far. I’m currently working at a high-end luxury brand, and designers have to come up with 5 collections every year. Everything happens so quickly now. However, I want to create something that people can wear throughout their life, at least more than 10 years, and I think 2 months or even 6 months are too short for me to design something that customers will treat as their uniform. I want to take more time to think and understand what being a “fashion designer” entails.
Solstice: Could you introduce your new collection?
Jingu Jun: In "Collection #00: Prologue", I designed each look as some kind of uniform for our daily lives. Each of the 7 looks in this collection is a different category of uniform. For example, Work Uniform is a daily uniform that you wear in any kind of working environment, and there is Date Uniform that you wear when you go out on a date with your lover. The starting point of my design is to be confident while wearing the garment that helps you to be more you. A Uniform hides yet expresses your individuality at the same time. Even when others wear the same thing, you can still express your selfhood and not be judged by them on what you are wearing.
Solstice: What kind of fabrics are used in the designs for this collection?
Jingu Jun: I think fabric is as important as the silhouette or construction of the garments. Finding fabrics in New York City was the hardest part, and without big production units, it is impossible to find the fabric you want in this city. For one of the uniforms in this collection, I ended up dying raw fabric with a natural dye technique to get the fabric and colour.