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Moon Choi brings South Korean minimalism to New York

By Kristopher Fraser

May 22, 2019

Fashion designer Moon Choi is quickly becoming one of everyone’s favorite minimalist designers. Her passion for neutrals has earned quite the following at New York Fashion Week, and among celebrities including Bella Hadid, Keke Palmer, Lindsay Vonn, Stephanie Shepherd, and Kendall Jenner. It’s been a long road coming for the designer who only recently graduated from Parsons.

Choi’s journey to the fashion industry began when she was a young girl. Her parents felt that she would learn more spending time in art galleries, theaters and museums than books alone. When she was 10 years old, her family visited a Salvador Dali exhibition at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul. The wardrobe that was on display she felt was more than a utilitarian necessity, but, rather, a medium for human emotion.

Her years at Parsons grew to mold her for her career, and was one of the most defining experiences of her adult life. “The years at Parsons helped me figure out what my own voice would be as a designer and where I wanted my design and collection to go,” Choi said to FashionUnited. “My dad taught me early on that a well put-together outfit, not necessarily a fancy suit, is an important part of making a good first impression. Tailoring was always something fascinating to me, seeing my dad almost transform to a different version of himself when he put one on for work.”

Designer Moon Choi is one to watch

Choi’s popularity comes at a time when South Korean fashion and style are finding a bigger market and audience in America. “South Korean fashion is very culturally relevant,” Choi said to FashionUnited. “Korean fashion has always been closely linked to K-pop and now, K-pop is becoming more popular with Gen Z. Generation Z is very sensitive to trends, and have found Korean-branded products to be fast, affordable and easy to consume. This is why there are so many young Korean emerging designers who started their own brands in order to communicate with the Gen Z. Korea is the perfect place for emerging designers, since there are a vast range in selection of materials and factories; the Korean fashion industry encourages young designers to launch their own label."

Before starting her own line, Choi honed her post-Parsons graduation skills at 3.1 Phillip Lim, an experience she says taught her the value of teamwork. “Each designer’s professionalism and ability to lead the team really impacted me on how I build great teamwork and unity in my studio,” Choi said to FashionUnited.

Despite her top tier education and great professional experience at Phillip Lim, like any business owner, Choi had her share of learning curves when she went and started her own business. Her biggest challenge was learning to communicate with other companies. “In school, our education covered design to making clothes, but the process of communicating your idea and through the process was something you only learn through real-life experience,” Choi said to FashionUnited. “You don’t learn how to communicate with patternmakers, sewers or even the owner at the manufacturing company. As English is my second language, it was slightly more difficult to me as I think in Korean and had to be my own translator. From having my own business, I’ve had to quickly catch up and learn how to successfully communicate with my design and production team as well as negotiate manufacturing costs within my budget.”

This fall/winter, the designer will present her collection at New York Fashion Week for the third time. Her last collection was inspired by movement and human emotion. She also introduced men’s pieces for the first time. The garments were flowy, inspired by the idea of flowing with emotions. The collection also included jersey knit tops that were twisted at the torso as if the wearer had to turn around.

With the growing trend in genderless fashion, Choi isn’t targeting any specific genders with her collections, but most of her buyers are currently from the womenswear market. “Like our brand DNA, I try to shift the notion of gender through our designs, so my customers could be women or men and it really depends on their taste,” Choi said to FashionUnited. She sees her customer as a working professional looking for updated classical pieces to add refined taste and sophistication to their wardrobe.

If there is one piece of advice she’d give to young designer’s trying to find success out of design school, “Find your voice and believe what you believe,” she said to FashionUnited. “The industry is a red ocean — there are so many talented designers, but customers and the industry are on the continuous hunt for designers with a fresh perspective. It’s important to show your personality in your design and convey what you believe.”

As for what’s next for the designer, she plans to continue showing her collections at New York Fashion Week. Besides that, she is doing her best to juggle and balance conveying consistent brand messaging, delivering high-quality product and utilizing the best partners to ensure that. Although her is still in the early stages, she has plans down to road to launch handbags, shoes and jewelry so customers can get a complete outfit from Moon Choi.

photos: courtesy of Purple PR