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Fashion veteran gets creative with latest collection : Council of Fashion Designers of Korea Chairman Song Zio returns to label that started it all

Nov 15,2017
Song Zio [SONG ZIO]
Newly designed clothes on display at the launch of Songzio Homme on Sept. 22 at Horim Arts Center in southern Seoul. [SONG ZIO]
The fashion industry is rapidly growing each year in Korea, as young designers spring up every season and people become more discerning as consumers. A major figure in the evolving fashion scene is Song Zio, the Chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of Korea (CDFK), and also one of the top menswear designers in Korea. In September, Song held a launch event for his brand, Songzio Homme, at the Horim Arts Center in southern Seoul, presenting his latest works to be featured in next year’s spring/summer line.

The name Songzio Homme is not new, as a brand with the same name was launched in 1999, when Song opened a boutique featuring a collection of his own high-end fashions. He kept the boutique open for a few years until he held his first runway show in Paris and his friends started calling the collection Songzio. Since then, he has been designing the brand Songzio as well as a more commercial line, Zio Songzio.

“The Paris collections took so much time, and I was forced to close the shop because I only lived half the year in Korea,” said Song during an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily on the day of the opening. “I’ve been trying and trying to find the time to come back to Songzio Homme, but it’s taken so long. Now that I’ve come back to it, I’m ready to show my creativity that I developed over the years.”

Since starting his first brand, Espace Bleu par Zio&Zia, in 1993, Song has been a steady force in the Korean fashion scene, and has built a strong reputation for his brand in London and Paris as well. Expressing his excitement for the upcoming brand, Song shared his design philosophy and talked about how much the Korean fashion scene has evolved over the past three decades. The following are edited excerpts from the interview.

Q. You already have two fashion brands: Songzio and Zio Songzio. What’s different about Songzio Homme?

A designer’s collection is all about creativity, and the sub brands tend to be more commercial, so that the revenue allows the main brand experiment around a little. Songzio Homme, in that sense, is a high-end brand, with the creativeness of a designer brand but carries a little bit of the casual contemporary mood as well. Basically, I’ve melted everything I accumulated through my experience over the years and poured them into the new works.

You’re famous for making your own paintings that are actually used as patterns for your clothes. Is there a reason you paint?

I love painting, and every painting has a meaning to it. For every new season of the year, designers come up with a concept for the whole collection, and I do that with my paintings. So when I paint, I already have in mind how I’m going to use the painting in the apparel. Like, “This part will be in the front of a shirt, so I’ll paint it a little brighter than the rest,” or, “This painting should be long enough so that all of it could become a pattern for a pair of pants.” Quite often, the images of the clothes that I have while I paint turns out to be very similar to the actual outcome.

Which designers have you been influenced most by?

When I was in Paris as a student, the designers of those days were people like Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier. They affected everyone, in fact. The Japanese avant-garde was also very popular those days, but the two styles were very different. The two both carried elements of contemporary fashion, but the European classic was what I was most influenced by.

You’ve held fashion shows in London and Paris, as well as Seoul. How far do you think Seoul has come in terms of fashion?

Quite surprisingly, I believe that we have reached a point where the fashion industry in Seoul has become almost parallel to those in places like London and Paris. The young people these days are born in an age where information is so abundant, and all the cultures have mixed here in Seoul.

Because the boundaries of different lifestyles are weak these days, fashion is so very similar across the world. Not just styles, but taste as well. Now when we talk about fashion, we don’t distinguish it by the regions, but age groups. Different people have different tastes, but the general mood is similar for each age group. For instance, not everyone in their 20s likes hip-hop, but those who do are mostly in their 20s. So fashion brands evolve differently to suit the different desires of different tastes.

Songzio Homme will open early next year. What are your expectations for the brand?

We stuck to a very traditional method of production for a designer brand, where I choose the concept and overall theme, and my designers come up with the specific styles, textiles and illustrations. It takes a long time, but I want to stick to my style, not follow a fast-moving trend. I’m hoping to keep my classical style and traditional ways, and hope that the younger designers will also learn from me.

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]