Hanbok designer Kim Young Jin
The tradition based on tradition
Kim has always been different. It has never been interesting to be like anyone else.
She has never been easily agitated just because her friends were crazy. She has always been looking for what attracted her, and what made her interested.
“I am not fond of doing what everyone else is doing. That was why I started working in theater, and later became a fashion supervisor. I was into the Korean tradition in my 20s. I traveled across Korea to learn more about Talchum, Madangnori, and Goseongogwangdae.”
At that time, the Korean tradition was new to her. It was an era different from today. When everyone was interested in the Western culture and globalization, Kim sought what was different and fresh. Her Hanbok looks different today because she is still longing for something new.
“Hanbok has to be new. Hanbok now symbolizes fashion. Before, it was associated with tradition. It has always been about fashion. Fashion has to change, and stay fresh and beautiful all the time. That is why I am always sticking to the basics.”
Kim talked about the misunderstandings we have about tradition. What is called tradition today was once a great invention of its time.
“Tradition is the essence of creativity. What was created anew has become tradition. Today’s invention is tomorrow’s tradition. That is why tradition is very flexible. The 14th century, the 16th century, the 18th century, and even yesterday can be called a tradition. I think a lot about how to make yesterday’s creations into something new today. I think the only way to preserve tradition is to make something new based on tradition.”
The difference of Tchai
The Hanbok of ‘Tchai’ is known for its originality around the world outside Korea.
Many people already know that supermodel Naomi Campbell came to Korea to look for Korea’s original fashion pieces, and highly praised the creations of Tchai Kim. Victoria & Albert Museum in the UK has purchased and exhibited three pieces of Hanbok by ‘Tchai of Young Jin Kim’ as Korea’s major fashion icon.
“I try not to set any ‘limit’ to make unique yet beautiful clothing. You cannot be free with the choice of materials or designs if you are limited by tradition. I do not hesitate to use lace and other foreign textiles used by premium designer brands. Also, I collaborate with sewing masters to achieve the elegance of Haute Couture. There is a whole crew who makes ‘Tchai’ different.”
Talking about Hanbok of ‘Tchai’, which is globally recognized, she expressed her appreciation for her staff members. She has been able to make complete sets of Hanbok, including underwear, as a result of her collaboration with staff members.
The Hanbok, which Tae Ri Kim wore on the popular TV series, , was made by ‘Tchai of Young Jin Kim.’ It was very beautiful even without any golden ornaments or colorful embroidery. Kim said she made those wardrobes diligently. She conducted historical research in choosing the textiles and colors that were used by noble ladies at that time.
Kim is not agitated by what is already made. She does not have a frame to fit herself in. That is why she can create designs that are beautiful to look different.