Whether a loyal fan or a new member of the K-fashion world, you do not want to miss out on Open YY’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection. The South Korean sisters, co-founders of the brand, reveal how K-pop and K-beauty, their worldwide fans, and their sisterly partnership inspired their new designs. Yet, Open YY does not only reference Korean traditional and contemporary culture, but it also winks at New York’s street fashion and proposes a free-spirited style.
In an era of inaccessible, high-end brands and fast fashion, Jiyoung and Boyoung “pay homage to the individuals who feel a special and strong connection to the nature and the land whose way of living translates durable and functional workwear into stylish, wearable pieces that can be incorporated into everyday life.”
The South Korean fashion brand previously known as The Open Product and co-founded by the sisters Jiyoung and Boyoung, presents its Spring / Summer 2024 collection under a fresh, renewed identity, OPEN YY. The young, yet well-established, brand carries on its revolutionary work in the fashion industry promoting practicality and sustainability in its free-spirited collection. The mingling of gender-coded elements and practical work attire-themed elements results in a unique, untraditional collection and a fashion statement.
First of all, congratulation on your Spring / Summer 2024 collection! Open YY is a quite young fashion brand, but it is greatly loved around the world. How does this influence your artistic process overall? Was this relevant to your approach to the S/S 24 collection?
The global love and support for Open YY have indeed influenced our artistic process. We are deeply grateful for the appreciation our brand has received worldwide, and it inspires us to push our creative boundaries even further with each collection. For S/S 24, this influence was certainly relevant. We wanted to create a collection that not only resonated with our loyal fans but also introduced our brand to new audiences. This collection embodies our signature blend of practicality and free-spirited style while incorporating fresh elements that we believe will appeal to a wider international audience.
Some of those reading this interview may have recognised your fashion brand’s name, Open YY, but some others might know you as The Open Product. I learned that your new name depicts the brand’s roots better and takes its cue from your names. This is a very interesting and admirable choice, but also a great change for you and your brand’s visibility. Can you tell us a bit more about this decision and its effects?
The decision to change our brand name from The Open Product to Open YY was a significant one. While The Open Product reflected our initial mission of offering open and accessible fashion, as we evolved, we felt that the new name better encapsulated our brand's identity and vision. Open signifies our openness to creativity, diversity, and global influences, while YY represents the essence of our sisterhood and partnership, as well as the universal nature of fashion. This change has allowed us to strengthen our brand's visibility and resonance, helping us connect more authentically with our audience.
So, we know that the two Ys in your brand’s name stand for those in Jiyoung and Boyoung, your names, and that this embodies the spirit of sisterhood you value as a source of artistic inspiration. What is it like to work with your sister on both an artistic, a business, and a personal level?
Working together, has been an incredible journey on all levels. On an artistic level, our shared experiences and perspectives enrich our creative process, often leading to innovative and well-balanced designs. On a business level, our trust and understanding of each other have been instrumental in building and growing OPEN YY. And on a personal level, it's a unique and rewarding experience to share such a passionate endeavour with a family member. We've learned and grown together, and our sisterhood is a constant source of inspiration for our brand.
Open YY was founded in Seoul. The Korean fashion panorama is rich and varied, especially in the capital. And if we think about culture at large, we of course can’t omit the K-pop and K-beauty phenomenons. How do you think this golden moment for the country’s culture helps your brand?
South Korea's vibrant fashion scene and the global popularity of K-pop and K-beauty have undoubtedly helped our brand. Seoul is a fashion-forward city with a diverse and experimental fashion landscape. This environment has nurtured our creativity and allowed us to draw inspiration from both traditional and contemporary Korean culture. The global fascination with Korean culture has opened doors for us on the international stage, creating a platform for our brand to showcase our unique style to a global audience.
Your Spring/Summer 2024 collection presents some American, especially New York reminiscent, inspired pieces, like the baseball caps and the oversized t-shirt’s logo “I <3 YY”. Do these cliché American elements represent the Big Apple as a source of inspiration for you, or is there another reason for including them in your collection?
The American-inspired elements in our S/S 24 collection, such as baseball caps and the "I <3 YY" logo, do have a connection to New York, a city known for its diverse and iconic street fashion. While not directly inspired by the city itself, these elements represent a sense of urban style, reflecting the global influences that permeate our designs. We wanted to infuse a touch of streetwear into the collection to make it more versatile and contemporary, allowing our customers to express their style in different ways.
The collection is fresh and unconventional, especially because of its practical design inspired by the agricultural industry. How did the idea of including and focusing on such work attire-themed elements come to you?
The idea of drawing inspiration from the agricultural industry and practical work attire-themed elements came from our desire to infuse everyday functionality into fashion. We believe that fashion should serve a purpose and be accessible to everyone. This collection pays homage to the individuals who feel a special and strong connection to the nature and the land, spending their time outside of the city. This way of living also translates in durable and functional workwear into stylish, wearable pieces that can be incorporated into everyday life.
Open YY’s collection is rich in colour and shapes, and this allows your costumers to play with few pieces to put together several different outfits. Is this creative and active engagement an aspect you valued during the designing process or is it a casual result of your creative effort?
Creative and active engagement with our designs was a key aspect of our designing process. We wanted our customers to have the freedom to mix and match pieces to create their own authentic looks. It's about empowering individuals to express their individuality and experiment with their style, making fashion a dynamic and personal experience.
A piece that recurs in the collection are your boots, which stand out as a signature piece. What was the inspiration behind this design?
The inspiration behind our signature boots came from a desire to create a statement piece that seamlessly blends practicality with style. These boots are designed to be versatile, comfortable, and fashion-forward, making them suitable for various occasions. They add a touch of edginess to our collection and serve as a focal point for many outfits, embodying our commitment to both functionality and aesthetics.
The boots, like many other pieces, are mixed and matched with cargo pants, jeans elements, sweatpants, checked shirts, cycling pants, but also dresses with nostalgic vibes and lacy translucent pants. Because of this, when looking at the whole collection, there is a perfect balance between more masculine, horticulturist pieces and more feminine, delicate ones. What inspired you to mingle gender-coded elements in this way? Is there a bigger picture and message behind this fashion choice?
The mingling of gender-coded elements in our collection reflects our belief in fashion as a form of self-expression without boundaries. We wanted to break away from traditional gender norms and offer a diverse range of styles that cater to a wide audience. This fashion choice conveys a message of inclusivity and celebrates the freedom to express one's identity through clothing, regardless of gender.
Are you working on a new collection or a new project at the moment? If so, can you share any details about it with us?
While we can't reveal specific details at the moment, we are always working on new collections and projects. Our future endeavours will continue to uphold Open YY's core values of practicality, free-spirited style, and sustainability. We look forward to sharing our upcoming creations with our global audience and exploring new avenues of creativity in the fashion world.