For the second post in our Korean designer interview series I am so delighted to have spoken with the designer Sae Bom Kim and get a glimpse of the woman and the brand that all the fashion moms in Korea already follow.
Jujubong is a simple, modern yet playful label for children from South Korea which launched in 2014.
JS: Where did the inspiration for your latest collection ‘Jardin de Bebe’ come from?
SK: Our brand combines luxury with simplicity and uniqueness here in Korea. However, I feel that Jujubong’s style is charming and bright to our foreign audience. I spent a long time considering the name of the collection but ended up with this name that embodied the “identity” of Jujubong into words that people in Korea and around the world could understand. As the name suggests, Jardin De Bebe is meant to imply a cozy, safe place where children can run and play freely, just as my creations reflect a comfortable yet classy design. I think of the children who will be wearing these clothes as my own, and so we use high quality materials and are reasonably priced.
JS: There are so many influential people in the fashion scene. Who is your personal fashion icon?
SK: Tom Ford. More than his lifestyle and the respect I have for his concept, I love his style and admire his ability to create such great pieces from the most minimalist designs as this parallels what I try to do with my designs.
JS: Do you find designing boys wear easier or more fun because you have a son?
SK: Of course! I’m able to try samples on him immediately and fix or change the designs on the spot, and I would think it would be much more difficult if I didn’t have a child. Also, the fact that I’m able to put my son in clothes that I created myself is such a proud feeling! It’s so great to create a design that really suits my own son. I do find it a little harder to design for girls since I don’t have a daughter and sometimes worry that I won’t meet my expectations. On the other hand, I do feel sorry for my son because I don’t know his likes or wants and sometimes feel like I’m “using” him to model for my brand.
JS: As a mother and designer/business owner your days must be so busy! If you are able to find some downtime how would you spend it?
SK: Yes, I’m really stretched thin! Even if there were two of me, I don’t think I would have enough time to everything I’d like to do in both the work and home aspect. If I had free time, first, I would like to spend more time with my son doing normal things like eating together, playing with him at the playground and going on trips together. Presently, I’m unable to spend as much time with him as he and I would like, so I always feel sorry and guilty. Secondly, I’m sure it’s this way with all moms but I would like some personal time haha! It would be nice to meet up and chat with friends and go watch a movie. Lastly, I would like to spend some quality time with my loving husband. We haven’t been able to since the baby and business, but it would be nice to go on a trip together or even just spend some alone time together, just the two of us. In reality though, if I ever did have the opportunity to hang out with friends or spend alone time with my husband, I don’t think I would be comfortable leaving my child alone and I would probably be worried sick!
JS: As a designer, which piece of yours would you say was the most successful? Also, aside from it’s success what is your personal favourite?
SK: While I was working at Samsung Cheil Industries (Fashion subsidiary of Samsung) as a designer, I created a few designs that were really successful and held record sales in the hundreds of thousands of dollars but within my personal brand, Jujubong, I would say my most successful design would be from the “Fairy” line. If you see our collections, there is an outerwear piece that has a fairy-like hat. This is a design I was working on since the launch of the brand in 2014 but finally released it for Fall 2015 collection. Ever since, it’s been very popular and became our trademark piece, so now people equate Jujubong to Fairy Coat. My personal favourite and most meaningful piece (to me) would be the ‘Neo Double-Breast Suit’ which is a winter semi-suit. From the start of Jujubong, this was one of my first pieces and it is also the outfit my son wore for his 1st birthday party, so it is a special one! This suit was very popular with my customers as a first birthday outfit for their children as well.
JS: You have a very impressive profile including a PhD in Fashion Marketing from Seoul National University and an MA in Design Management from London Brunel University. Having spent time abroad, what in your opinion are some differences and similarities between European style and Korean style?
SK: I think a lot of people would agree with me that the basic style is very similar. I would say that Korea is a step behind, following Europe’s style. Anywhere you go in Korea, you’ll find designs inspired by the European style. Last year there was even a “Northern Europe” style within the kids’ market that swept through the nation. Even now, Korea is saturated with this style whether or not it really is from Europe. Another difference would be the customers’ preferences, and although subtle, the Korean audience seems to have slightly different preferences in design, colours and fabrics. Koreans seem to prefer more casual everyday fabrics and styles. Of course this is my opinion, but in Europe, just like their one-of-a-kind elaborate architecture meticulously created with careful attention to details – such as how light seeps into the space – their fashion is similarly more dramatic and creative, and their audience seems to prefer those designs.
JS: If you weren’t a designer, what would you be doing now?
SK: I’ve never thought of anything else before, so nothing really comes to mind haha! Even while attending college, I worked as a drawing instructor in a Design academy. As a kid, I was always interested in the Arts and won many awards in the field, so I was constantly encouraged and supported by others to pursue it. Even if I didn’t become a fashion designer, I would probably be teaching drawing or design, or something else related to design. Whatever the case, I know for sure that I would always be doing something associated with Juju (son’s nickname) and be known as Juju’s mom!
JS: Whats on your bucket list?
SK: 1) Travel the world 2) Live in a foreign country, somewhere like Southern France, or Switzerland. As you can tell, I’ve always loved to travel!
JS: Where can our readers purchase Jujubong? Do you have any stockists internationally? Business-wise, we are new and we’ve only been up for 2 years, so I feel that we need to gain more support and become a bigger presence here in Korea first. But I do plan on being proactive in getting the brand out there. We are in the process of implementing an English and Chinese version of the site with Paypal and should be up and running by the end of July. We will also be at Playtime Paris and Playtime Tokyo (possibly New York) in July and August. As of now, our foreign audience can feel free to message me on Instagram or email for inquiries.
*Interview was conducted in Korean and translated to English*
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