Uniformed Is About to Be Your Recent On a regular basis Uniform

Style Points is a weekly column about how fashion intersects with the broader world.

After producing her beloved, ’90s-inspired namesake line for a decade, Jennifer Chun was getting a bit of burned out. The method had turn into “so routine that I wasn’t considering outside the box anymore,” she recalls. “I’d produce two seasons after which ship it. It was almost like I used to be becoming a bit of little bit of a robot in the method.” Her husband and business partner was the one who suggested she rethink things, take a break, and “not do that until you ought to again.”

She did stints in costume design and worked for just a few sustainability-focused brands, something that “opened my eyes to a complete different process and customer.” However it wasn’t until lockdown hit that she began to dream about making a latest line of her own. Chun was watching K-dramas through the pandemic, after having grown up on the genre (she remembers renting them on VHS tapes at Korean grocery stores back within the day.) “I noticed that even being Korean American and having grown up within the Midwest most of my life, my cultural roots are pretty deep. It is perhaps since you’re so insulated; within the Midwest, you’re one in all the few Asian families,” she says.

uniformedworld by jennifer chun

Irises, a logo of hope, are a recurring motif.

Peter Ash Lee/Courtesy of the designer.

After reading an article a couple of natural dyer in Seoul (South Korea has a longstanding tradition of the craft), Chun and her mother, who was isolated in L.A. resulting from Covid restrictions, began corresponding together with her. When Chun finally made a visit to Seoul, the dyer let her assist and learn concerning the process. That have led her to create a line, Uniformed, where she works with Korean artisans and uses repurposed and deadstock materials and natural dyes. While she’d mainly worked in wovens before, Chun liked the concept of incorporating knitwear “because not one of the yarns are wasted. You don’t have all this leftover fabric being thrown away. You’re using exactly what you would like.”

uniformedworld by jennifer chun

The blazer has been a breakout hit for Chun.

Peter Ash Lee/Courtesy of the designer.

One standout of her debut collection is a blazer inspired by the college uniforms in K-dramas and developed with a suiting patternmaker in Manhattan’s Garment District. Its sleeves are lined with brightly striped saekdong fabric, woven by artisans in Busan. (It’s the identical fabric that lines the sleeves of a hanbok, the standard Korean garment.) On the left side of the blazer, where a college name tag would normally be pinned, “Uniformed” is embroidered in Korean on a chunk of ribbon. The piece has been a sellout item, with DMs about it pouring in before Chun even opened her online shop.

An identical knit set and clutch with iris patterns were inspired by a vintage shirt of her grandmother’s, which recalls the pattern on plastic gambling cards called hwatu cards. In Korea, irises are a logo of hope, which was also the theme of this pandemic-born collection. The preppy side of the road comes out in a rugby sweater, modeled after one Chun borrowed from her dad within the ’90s, but unexpectedly made out of merino wool, and in box-pleated miniskirts.

Chun’s heritage is embedded in every bit. Her wrap skirts drew on the custom of pojagi, or patchworking leftover fabric scraps together as a technique to wrap gifts or food containers. Dam yo (blanket) scarves, that are filled with repurposed and upcycled down fabric, were based on the standard Korean blankets she grew up using. And she or he made some extent of working with an all-Asian team on the lookbook, which was shot by Peter Ash Lee. When she showed the resulting images to the dyer, she told Chun, “‘You respected Korea and also you made it look true to our cultural heritage.’ And that was the largest compliment, because that’s what I actually desired to do.”

uniformedworld by jennifer chun

The Dam Yo scarf.

Peter Ash Lee/Courtesy of the designer.

The whole lot was made in small batches to eliminate waste, something that has turn into a selling point for the brand. When Chun told a friend that she would only make a limited amount of things based on how much fabric and yarn she had left, she suggested, “‘Why don’t you label that in your clothing?’ So it’s exciting, because people will see, ‘I got the second made out of 10, since the first one was the sample.’”

uniformedworld by jennifer chun

Chun’s tackle the rugby sweater.

Peter Ash Lee/Courtesy of the designer.

As with many sustainable brands, there isn’t a plan for wild, full-throttle growth. But Chun plans to expand, judiciously, into accessories and homeware, and work with more artisans across Asia. “And if any person has leftover fabric or yarn,” she says brightly, “then I’ll use it.”

One in every of the highlights of the method: Chun finally got to make a visit to Korea together with her mother, who gathered a gaggle of childhood friends who’d heard about what they were doing. “It was probably the most beautiful thing. All of them pulled together and brought their used hanboks,” she says. The ladies shared the memories behind the clothes before offering them to Chun to repurpose for her designs. “It was almost to the purpose where I used to be like, ‘I don’t wish to cut up any of this!’ But they don’t feel that way. All of them wish to be a component of it.”

Headshot of Véronique HylandVéronique Hyland is ELLE’s fashion features director and the creator of the book Dress Code. Her work has previously appeared within the Recent York Times, the Recent Yorker, W, Recent York magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Condé Nast Traveler.

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