Darcygom @darcygom launches its Spring/Summer 2021 collection Ambiguous Jungle. The Korean brand reconsiders its own tradition combining it with a modern approach and everyday clothes designs with traditional motifs and upcycled fabrics. Their main aim is to create a healthy ecosystem for those who prefer a slow way of life with slow fashion rather than supporting the fast fashion industry.
The search for a modernized Korean traditional talisman that will ward off the year 2020 misfortune (A.K.A Covid-19) inspired this collection. The symbol of tigers, lions, magpies, pine trees, and the mountain peaks collectively brings a truly ambiguous jungle theme to DARCYGOM from Seoul.
How did you come up with the concept of the brand?
I guess how I came up with the brand name DARCYGOM can answer that question. I wanted to use an Old Korean word that nobody really uses anymore for my brand name. I found the word “Darcygom” in the Korean dictionary and the dictionary said it meant “Yet again” in old Korean. I do love to upcycle discarded materials and I love Korean tradition (it is so vintage). My brand motto is Korean tradition meets Sustainable Fashion. So the name just made sense to me. Also, my secret crush of all time is Mr. Darcy from the novel Pride and Prejudice. The word “gom” means “bear” in Korean. I also happen to like teddy bears Get it? “Darcy + Gom” = Darcygom.
What made you want to mix Korean tradition with modernism?
I am ‘made’ in Korea. But traveled & lived outside of Korea for roughly half of my life. Being a poor international student, living the frugal life I always improvised whenever I had the urge to buy new clothing. I started to go to salvation army and secondhand clothing stores to buy clothing but nothing seemed to really fit me. I started to use more accessories, cut and sew to fit certain outfits better and later on build a taste for vintage garments. I loved traveling and as a souvenir, I started buying traditional garments and fabric from that region. When I finally came back to Korea, it was natural that I was going to love the Korean traditional garment “Hanbok” (which is super vintage if you think about it). My design is my way of trying to understand my roots, but still keeping things relevant to people who live in the 21st century.
I started to use this fabric called “Saekdong” when I started my brand in 2017. It was a known fabric to Koreans, but no one really uses it in their outfits anymore. It is considered outdated and countrified. Initially, I wanted to use it because I wanted to be different than the other brands. Later I found out that there is only 1 traditional fabric maker whose been creating this fabric and if he goes out of business, we lose that part of Korean traditional fabric culture! This blew my mind. I wanted to sustain that part of Korean fashion culture. It wasn’t easy, but for this season I made tops, bottoms, and sneakers with this garment. I guess I have a tender spot in my heart for broken things that are considered “not-useable”
Not ALL my garments are made with Korean traditional garments. But to keep things modern for this collection I used multi-functional fabrics such as Antibacterial fabric (infused with silver), reflective fabric, and UV protective fabric. I think mixing traditional fabric & modern fabric gives my brand an edge.
How is the the creative process behind one of your collections? What inspires the brand and each collection?
I get inspired by all the things around me. At the moment the current pandemic was the biggest impact for my 2021 SS collection. Since I’m an Indi-brand owner 2020 was particularly hard with having trade shows cancelled, fashion shows being postponed, etc.
When I’m mentally stuck, I go to museums, small art galleries, read more about Korean cultural heritage and look for inspiration. The current pandemic inspired me to reach deeply into my Korean roots and look for symbolism.
I started to read more about Korean Folk drawings. I found this drawing of a Tiger, Magpie (bird), and a Pine tree. Back in the historical period apparently the peasants drew this and post it on their doors on New Year’s Day. The tiger was supposed to ward off the bad spirits, the magpies to bring good news, and the pine tree meant everlastingness. So, this drawing was the wish of the people to have a good year.
That wish of the people really spoke a great deal to me with the current pandemic at large. I wanted to embrace it and make patterns out of it.
Is it important for you to be a sustainable brand? Why?
I believe the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluting factors in modern years. And honestly, I don’t think profit can solely justify the harm the fashion industry is doing right now. What goes around comes around. I do want the next generation and all the living beings who live on earth with us to have a safe environment and really explore what is good about this world. I’d like to continue working on my design but still try to do it in a sustainable way. That is why I really really want to start producing my own sustainable fabric. I know there are countless R&D projects that I would have to go through but I’m willing to do my homework.
Do you think slow fashion will win the battle against fast fashion? Why do you think it is important to make this change?
Not sure if slow fashion will ever “win” or beat fast fashion. I am not an expert when it comes to reading fashion trends. However, producing trendy inexpensive clothing rapidly by mass-market retailers brings overstock problems. And I know it. When you are trying to rush things, you are bound to use less quality material, cheap dyes and that is going to hurt our ecosystem and steal the chance for the next generation to live in a clean healthy environment. I was blessed to enjoy nature and its beauty. It really humbles a person and inspires those who appreciate it. I would like to pass that to the next generation. And this is why I am willing to become more sustainable. Not quite there but I’m definitely going to try my best.
DARCYGOM Creative director Beth SJ @sj.beth,
DIRECTED by Jeon Daewoon @drock_thisd
OFFICIAL DARCYGOM PHOTOS oh Seungjune @jentle_photography
KOREAN CALLIGRAPHY Simso @simso_art
KOREAN TRADITIONAL KNOT Park Mijin @possessmi
HAIR & MUA park hansol @sonamoooooo
ASSISTANT lee jaekyu @feelj97 Yoo Jungki @jungkiyoo
SPECIAL THANKS TO LOVELY Jeon Seoin @s_e_o__i_n Ryu Hyunji @a.ab.abc.123
SPONSORED BYMCST @mcstkorea KOFICE @next.kofice KCDF @kcdf_insta HACKR @hackr.official