Designer Yuna Yang
Yuna Yang, the new category
A socially-conscious brand
Any clothing from the high-end brand 'Yuna Yang' is easily the centerpiece of its owner’s closet. This is because Yang’s brand takes clothing far beyond something that protects and embellishes the body to make it a medium of our generation’s stories and for better world. “I deeply think about the message that I want to convey through my clothes all the time. I would like Yuna Yang to take on social meaning.” Approximately 10 years ago, when other high-end brands designed fur coats for several customers’ demands, she featured faux fur designs-something that was not common at the time. Another priority for Yang is her delicate consideration for female body positivity. Since 2016, Yang, who objects to categorizing women based on age and size, has begun presenting plus-sized models on Fashion Week runways long before other brands. She also broke the tacit rule of using Caucasian models for the opening and closing outfits, by featuring ethnic Asian or African models instead. These bold measures taken by a female Asian designer in the world of mainstream fashion gained a wide range of reactions-none of which deterred Yang from her sense of mission. “If we think of how Coco Chanel has gained her fame today, it is chiefly because her collections aimed to achieve social changes, such as freeing women from corsets and using jersey, which had been applied only to menswear, for women’s clothing. The same is true of Yves Saint Laurent, who was the first to dress women in tuxedo suits. Most of the beloved fashion designers today are those who not only produce ‘looking-nice’ clothes but were leaders of their time.”
Designs reflecting their era
Yang, an independent designer who also works as a creative director, thinks of clothing not only as a means to an end but as a carrier of stories of the time. “The word ‘fashion’ itself is grounded in contemporariness. Its outcomes are worn by the people of the era. Depending on how well they communicate with society, fashion trends come and go, with some rare ones managing to stay relatively for a bit longer. Artists are often called upon posthumously to speak for a generation. Fashion, however, gains value only by being noted and worn at the time it is created. That’s why fashion designers need to take an interest in the society in which he or she is living.” To stay sensitive to a variety of social phenomena, Yang pays close attention to what people are saying and reads widely. “I never forget to read, no matter how busy I am. I usually don’t have time to thoroughly read one book at a time, though. Hence, I keep books in several easily-accessible places so that I can pick one up and read whenever I have a few moments to spare.” It is due to Yang’s efforts to change with the times that this year, instead of going to New York Fashion Week, she unveiled her latest collection in Bukchon.
Another reason for the Bukchon endeavor was Yang’s desire not to work at the breakneck pace that is typically necessary to meet the deadlines of an established fashion event. Yang, who starts her day with a meditation session, prefers to go “all in” in one session after spending sufficient time in deep thought about what she wants to create.
“The more I sketch, the more I feel like I’m losing the designs I was thinking of. In sketching, more is not necessarily better: if done indiscriminately, you can lose hold of the work rhythm that suits you best. Everyone works differently: in other words, not everyone is going to benefit from doing 100 sketches. When I give a lecture at a university, I take time to observe students at work and give them advice on their strengths on an individual basis.” What Yang does the most frequently is asking herself questions: mostly, about what she is good at and whether she is building up a unique style . She eventually realized that doing “what everyone else does” is not the Yuna Yang way. “Even the easiest and most convenient of paths is one of hardship if it does not work for you. Why? Because it’s not fun. I much prefer taking on the challenges that I want to take on, even if there are risks, and creating in a way that best matches my strengths. While I've had luck on my side, I also believe that the reason Yuna Yang is Yuna Yang is still alive and well in New York is because I was not afraid to forge my own path.”
Yang had a lot to say about the similarities between her brand and Sulwhasoo, including that they: are beloved by all ages, from those in their 20s to those in their 70s; create high-quality, high-end products that dispel the notion that Asian products are “cheap”; make each individual’s unique beauty the standard for what it means to be beautiful; and aspire to a beauty that is not limited to a certain period of life but grows throughout one’s lifetime. “First Care Activating Serum was a must-have in New York, when I was always insanely busy. It kills two birds with one stone: saving time while making you feel your best.” Yuna Yang is on the cusp of growing into a global brand that is competitive and relatable, not only in New York and Korea but all over the world.