The Korean fashion designer has loved clothing and sewing machines from a very young age. His passion –combined with an impeccable taste for beauty beyond gender–, his masterful skills and talent resulted in the creation of his eponymous label, Juun.J, in 2007. Almost ten years later, he’s become a major sensation in the Paris runway and has been the guest designer at the latest edition of Pitti Uomo, the most important menswear event of the fashion season. Unexpected volumes and shapes, monochrome looks, diversion of classic pieces and artists’ collaborations are at the core of his collections, always balancing between eye-catching avant-garde and exquisite ready to wear.
Dear Mr. Juun.J, could you please introduce yourself to our readers? 
I am Juun.J, the Creative Director of the brand Juun.J. I express beauty of restraint and mixed contradiction based on the “diversion of classics”. After stepping my foot in the fashion world, I worked in a menswear designer brand and became the manager of the domestic brand. In 1998, I founded my first brand, Lone Costume. I started my label, leaving behind a stable job and relaxed lifestyle, to fulfill my duty as a designer. I showed my collection in Seoul and founded Juun.J in 2007 to challenge myself in a global level. To talk about my personal side, I am very opinionated on my work and could be seen as a workaholic. When I am away from work, I love to talk (and drink a little) with my lovely friends and spend most of the time with my beloved family, pet dog Juuny.
When and how did you become interested in fashion? Did you ever expect you would make a living out of it?
I chose fashion as if I was destined to do so. I spent most of my younger days at my parents’ work place (they were in the fashion business) and enjoyed garments, yarns, and sewing machines much more than toys. That is why I always wanted to be a fashion designer from the beginning, and drove myself to achieve it.
I first studied Fine Arts, but my love for clothes and fashion never faded. After the mandatory military service, I heard about ESMOD –the famous French fashion institute– opening in Seoul and never looked back. Since then I have been immersed and enthralled by fashion.
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In the early '80s, Japanese designers took the Paris fashion scene by storm. Do you think it could happen again, but with Korean designers this time?
Moving towards "global" is a huge trend in the Korean fashion and design fields. The growth would be possible, since there are abundant people with talent. The way I see Korean fashion design is that it is based on a more universal, Western-like appeal, rather than expressing Asiatic avant-garde. Also, it presents a well-developed design and quality with precision and techniques. Korea is a market where people are very aggressive and trendy. If I could suggest one thing, I would like more Korean fashion people to challenge in global markets.
Your last collection had two powerful and meaningful words: genderless and boundaryless. Besides, female model Soo Joo Park starred in the FW15 campaign, although other female models have appeared in past campaigns along with male models. Would you describe your collections as genderless or “unisex”?
This season’s concept is “-less”. I wanted to present a collection that is not restricted by regular notions such as gender, boundary, era. Juun.J’s collection and items do cross gender’s boundaries. I do not just think about men while designing; I do imagine women wearing Juun.J, and I design based on this. Also, there is not a standardized male figure for Juun.J, and I do not ask for manliness. Genderless or unisex looks would not have to be too women-like when men wear them, nor would not have be too men-like when women wear them.
"I believe it is a must to dream and challenge yourself, instead of wondering whether it is possible or not to achieve it."
From the very beginning, you’ve collaborated with artists in your collections: Oleg Dou, Greg Simkins, Paolo Pedroni… and, most recently, Hajime Sorayama. What’s the message behind blending fashion and visual arts?
I believe that fashion and art cannot be separated. Both are means to show creators’ identity and consistency. When I think about a collection concept every season, I look for an artist that would fit in it. For me, the artist would present me with a canvas, and I would present him the design that would make the artist’s work stand out. Artists are part of Juun.J’s DNA.
How do you choose the artists you’re going to work with? And how is the process with them?
I collaborate with artists who I dearly love and respect. When I conceptualize Juun.J’s collection, I follow artists who I like very closely, and I write my heartfelt letter to them via mail. We suggest designs to each other and try to find the middle ground, and apply the design on the products. All artists are similar on certain terms since they all are very creative and unique. The most important thing is the thoughtfulness we show to each other. I try to create a valuable design based on artists’ artworks; I do not design collaboration works as cheap, consumable pieces.
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You were the guest designer at this year’s Pitti Uomo, one of the (if not The) most important events in men’s fashion. How did you feel about it when they first proposed?
I was told by the global PR agency last October that I was invited as the guest designer to the Pitti Uomo. The Pitti Immagine had been following Juun.J closely for the last few years and ultimately decided to invite me after they attended the SS16 Collection show last June. It was a truly joyful and exciting moment. The thought of showing a collection as the guest designer at Pitti Uomo itself was amazing. I was little nervous, too, about showing in a different place from Paris!
And now that it has already happened, how do you see the experience?
To show my collection at Pitti Uomo was an honour and joy beyond my imagination. Pitti Uomo is one of the central stages of menswear and to show there as a guest designer gave me happiness. Also, it feels like I took a step further as a designer and feel more responsibilities.
And now the final one: what advice would you give to fashion design students (or young people studying and starting to work in the fashion or creative fields)?
I, being a Christian, love the word faith. Faith is a power that could make people achieve anything. To fashion design students, I would tell them to challenge the wider, global market. Keep believing, and have faith in yourselves. I want them to feel how amazing of a dream and a challenge it is to imagine showing one’s clothes and make people wear them. I believe it is a must to dream and challenge yourself, instead of wondering whether it is possible or not to achieve it.
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