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Eudon Choi - Spirited Minimalism

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Thanks to a bold style and an uncompromising sense of identity Eudon Choi has trod something of a charmed path from Graduate of Central St Martins to high end high street recognition and becoming part of the Swarovski Fashion Collective for AW2013 alongside the likes of Prabal Gurung, Emilia Wickstead and Mary Katrantzou.

The designer – whose AW 12 collection launched at Selfridges last August – has an obvious talent for clean lines, surprising intricacies and the successful stitching of male and female tailoring to create a balanced whole. From a first collection of just eight pieces inspired more by the desire to have a creative outlet than to own a fashion business, Eudon has gone on to build a spirited minimal aesthetic that is gaining serious momentum.

(Eudon Choi SS13)

If you haven’t seen – or touched – his creations then you can expect a pleasing juxtaposition of textures with an often unexpected result. A basic cotton dress with a luxe leather patent panel insert, plastic embellishment that is unfeasibly pretty.

Whilst he favours the subtlety of muted tones, there are flashes of vivid colour that bring boldness and vibrancy – see the cerulean blue suede cigar pants in his AW12 Terra Nova Collection or the blue paneled patent leather dress in the SS13 Space Oddity collection. His designs are delightfully bold and there’s more than a whiff of trendsetter – don’t be surprised to find yourself wearing a white Maetel hat or a metallic silver onesey this season.

(Eudon Choi SS13)

Without a doubt Eudon is one of the most exciting labels to watch for 2013 and The Glass Pineapple was excited to be able to dig a bit deeper into how he got here and where he’s hoping to go next.

What are the challenges for new, young designers and what does it take to make a name for yourself in a competitive market like London? 

For a young fashion label London is the best place on earth to be as it encourages such creativity. But as a self-financing, emerging designer it is really hard to keep going. It really is a minimum 12-hour day seven days a week. It’s just crazy when you think about it! I think to make a name for yourself in the world of fashion you simply have to believe in what you do and just keep doing it. Eventually it will pay off.

Do you find London is a natural home for your fashions? What inspires you about the city?

While I am Korean and very proud of my Korean heritage I do consider myself a London designer now! There is so much amazing talent in London and there is a real freedom to experiment and find your own design aesthetic. There is also a great deal of support. I was lucky enough to get selected for Vauxhall Fashion Scout's One to Watch show and from there won the Merit Award in 2010, which enabled me to stage my own catwalk shows - as a designer just starting out with your own label that is an incredible opportunity. Then I was one of the recipients of Elle magazine’s Talent Launch Pad initiative. This led to me showing on schedule for the first time in February 2012. 

How would you describe your creative process? Do you like to start each season afresh, or are you working on building continuity from season to season?

I try and get out and about as much as possible to see new exhibitions or to visit new places as I have found that the initial spark of inspiration for a collection really can come from anywhere. Yes, every collection is a new journey and yes, it is an evolution in many senses but I get to play with a different narrative and I love that about fashion. Twice a year I get to imagine my own little universe and populate it with gorgeous clothes!

I do revisit the key design signatures in my collection and refine them season after season. I am constantly searching for the inner purity and simplicity in my designs and with each collection I think I move a little closer to the perfection I am trying to achieve. The progression is not linear but I do revisit certain design challenges again and again.

We know that your menswear training influences your womenswear work. Do you find your Korean background also making its way into your designs?

I am often asked if being Korean has informed my design language and sometimes I see it in my work, especially the attention to detail that comes to play in my designs. But for me it’s all about the cut and engineering of a garment and juxtaposing textures, and I wouldn’t say that that is because I am Korean especially; although Koreans are notorious perfectionists so perhaps it is in there more than I realise!

Tell us about your experience working as senior designer at Twenty8Twelve. What attracted you to that label? What did you take from there?

I was lucky enough to work on the first Twenty8Twelve London Fashion Week (LFW) collection, so I got to see how LFW works and what goes into staging a show. The collection got incredible reviews and this gave me the confidence to find my own voice and present my own vision. I also learned a lot about production from this job and this has proved invaluable in running my own business. 

How has winning the VFS, Lycra, BFC/Elle and Samsung awards affected your business? Do you consider them to be more cause or effect of your current rising status?

I have been very lucky in my career so far. Vauxhall Fashion Scout enabled me to stage my own catwalk shows while my label was less than 6 months old and this is an incredible opportunity for a young designer. Also for the last two years I have been a recipient of the Samsung Fashion and Design Fund and last year I won the LYCRA® Style Emerging Talent Award at WGSN Global Fashion Awards, which came with cash sponsorship from Invista. This financial support has helped me finance production and stage my shows. For AW13 I am also part of the Swarovski fashion Collective and this has given me access to the most incredible expertise , which  has enabled me to really explore a more overtly feminine look for the AW13 collection. Without all of this support I would not be where I am right now.

How do you think you have overcome challenges/succeeded where others haven’t?

Running your own label is incredibly hard and you couldn’t really do it unless you love it. I think my success so far is down to luck and hard work. But I also think it is because from very early on I have had a small creative team - my PR, my stylist, my show production company, my business manager. Together we build on the relationship, season after season, so that I am consistent not only in the design of the clothes but also the staging of the shows and the representation of the brand to the press.

When running a fashion label, such a small percentage of your time is about designing the collection - it’s what you do with the rest of your time that makes the difference. 

Tell us about working with Selfridges. Do you plan to open your own shop at some point? 

It was unbelievable when Selfridges said that they wanted the London exclusive on my AW12 collection. This was my first on-schedule collection and to be in a store such as Selfridges, which is tracked globally is such a great honour at this early stage in my career. I think opening my own shop is a long way off but it is something that interests me, as you have complete control of the retail environment and I am a bit of a control freak!

Are you planning any diffusion lines?

I did collaboration with a Korean brand called 8 Seconds, which launched in December but unfortunately it is a one off limited collection only available in Korea. For 2013 I am also working on an exciting collaboration with a UK High Street Retailer, which will present a Eudon Choi collection at a much more accessible price point. But as for my own diffusion line, I think for now I will just concentrate on getting my main line right.

What is it that drives you to do what you do?

I love what I do. I love the madness of creating two collections a year and putting them out into the world, and seeing the response they get. Sure it’s really hard worth but it is so worth it when you stand backstage and watch each piece go out onto the catwalk.

Who inspires you?

I would have to say Yves St Laurent. He was one of fashion’s great designers and the simple beauty and elegance of his clothes is what inspired me to train as a fashion designer.

For AW13 Eudon is injecting a burst of romanticism into his pursuit of an evolution of the idea of clothing as protection - first explored with the AW12 Terra Nova collection. Personally, we can’t wait to see what he presents next week at London Fashion Week - whatever it is, for the confident, self assured, independent of spirit and maker of bold sartorial choices Eudon Choi woman, it's bound to be thrilling.

Eudon Choi London Fashion Week Presentation: 15th February 15:45,16:45

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