There has been an influx in Asian brand’s showing at London Fashion Week and this season, Korean brand YCH made its debut with an exploration of how feminism has been “accepted and expressed differently across nations, throughout eras and ultimately reflected in fashion” with slick tailoring, oversized draped trench coats, corset detailing and easy-to-wear slipdresses.
For spring/summer 2020, Yoon Choon Ho of YCH traced back feminism to its fundamental ideology, looking at its origin, as well as how the ‘Me Too’ movements core values are being tarnished and misinterpreted in some countries, including South Korea, where the designer explains in his show notes that it has been “degenerated into creating a further division between the genders”.
Talking to FashionUnited following his LFW debut, Yoon, said: “As one of the very few male designers in Korea who designs womenswear, I recently got some criticisms from feminists in Korea for designing corsets for K-pop idols.
“This caught my attention and I wanted to do a more sensitive take on the issue and therefore looked into its ideals and realised feminism is not about creating division between genders, but about promoting general equality.”
While feminism was a starting point for the SS20 collection, it was also inspired by creating clothes to embody “fierce and independent women of today” with Annie Oakley at the heart of it, with a contrasting mix-matching style of sharpshooter hats, corset dresses and pleated skirts, seen with a touch of lace and frill detailing to add femininity.
“The fact that corsets were being taken so literally shocked me and I wanted to add this piece to the collection to point out that embracing one’s femininity should not mean that they are powerless, but something that should be encouraged when voicing their rights and opinions as true feminists,” added Yoon. “I felt like Annie Oakley was a good example as she had both feminine and independent sides and so wanted to put her at the centre of this collection.”
This was showcased within the corset-inspired, high-waisted bottoms, layerable trench coats, puff-shoulder jackets, workwear-inspired trousers and asymmetric-hemmed dresses, where the designs featured a beautiful contrast between flowing fabrications and nipped in features, seen at the waist and ankles.
Yoon explained: “Bringing the contrast between the flowy fabrication and nipped features was inspired by Annie Oakley and the concept of feminism. Annie was an independent, bold female figure who had a strong presence as a sharpshooter. However, the clothes at the time was all about creating body-conscious silhouettes, which brought out the femininity in women.
“To present both independent nature and the feminine side of women, mix match of soft textiles and hard tailoring was vital in pointing out that feminists of today should not be limited to pursuing masculinity to match that of men, but can still embrace their femininity and voice their perspectives.”
Key pieces that stood out for the young Korean designer included slick tailoring, with wasp-waist power blazers, upscale checks seen on corset-inspired skirts and high-waisted trousers teamed over oversized shirts and puff-sleeve blouses, and pleated skirt/trouser combinations worn with cowboy style hats and statement bustier-effect crop tops. This was a collection styled perfectly, which could also be broken down into easy-to-wear Instagram-ready elements to make a statement.
“Technical side of fashion design is very important to me especially when it comes to tailoring. I believe that to create the very look you first envisioned and to add quality to the pieces, carefully perfected tailoring is essential,” added Yoon, and that really came across in the technical, elegant collection.
Layering was the main focal point of this collection, with trench coats, reminiscent of a cowboy duster coat featuring draped detailing on the arms, layered over print dresses, faux leather shirting with fringing, wrap skirts and trousers. Textiles also played a huge part, with mesh paired with faux leather to conceptualise Annie Oakley’s hunting gadget, and his playful accessories, with mesh drawstring bags and layered bags worn together in the shape of a hunting rifle, continued his Oakley inspiration, while all his looks were showcased with flip flops or sculptural flat boot in ankle and knee-length with open toes for a modern touch.
YCH’s impressive LFW debut has firmly placed the womenswear label as ‘one to watch’ for the future, and when FashionUnited asked Yoon, what we can expect next, he added: “For the coming autumn/winter collection, I’m working on bringing more tailoring and dresses, but in a new silhouette than any of the previous seasons.”
Choon Ho Yoon, a graduate from Milan’s Istituto Marangoni, launched YCH, taking after his initials in 2016, after being crowned the winner of a Korean design TV programme in 2014. He has gone on to design custom-made stage gowns for all the major K-pop stars, including BTS, Black Pink, and Exo, as well as design a beauty collection created with Laneige from AmorePacific, a Korean cosmetics giant.
Images: courtesy of YCH