Popular in Asia, United Bamboo may look to Korea
|Model Kang Hyoni struts down the runway for United Bamboo’s show on Oct. 18 at SETEC in southern Seoul during Seoul Fashion Week. Provided by the Seoul Metropolitan Government|
United Bamboo, an American fashion label, has 12 stores in neighboring Japan but only one store inside Galleria Department Store in Apgujeong that sells its clothes.
And it was only on Oct. 18 when the label, founded in 1998 in New York by Vietnamese-American Thuy Pham and his Japanese-American partner Miho Aoki, held its first runway show for womenswear in Seoul during Seoul Fashion Week’s 2012 Spring/Summer Collection.
The showcase mostly featured basic patterns made of cotton and silk, colored in neutrals - white, black and gray - accentuated by some girly elements, such as frills.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government, host of the fashion week, invited the duo and two other fashion designers from Asia - Euton Choi of the eponymous label and Rad Hourani of RAD by Rad Hourani - as part of a foreign guest designer show. Pham represented United Bamboo at the show; Aoki recently gave birth.
|Thuy Pham. By Park Sang-moon|
Pham, who met with the Korea JoongAng Daily a day before the show, said the fashion show would serve as a good exposure to the Korean market.
“Our clothes provide good fit for Asian people since I and my partner are both Asian,” he said. “I don’t exactly use ethnic influence but a lot our customers are Asian girls because it fits their taste and body. Even in New York, when we throw sample sales, a lot of Korean girls, such as those attending Parsons The New School for Design, come to buy. Korea may be a good market for us.”
The soft-spoken designer said he could foresee his brand’s potential here after his friend informed him of copies of United Bamboo products spotted at a wholesale market in Seoul. “Korean consumers probably know our products from Japanese magazines or something.”
In addition to Japan - the brand’s second-largest market after the United States - Singapore, Hong Kong and China already sell United Bamboo. Under the label, Pham runs a second brand for men: Le Bac.
Despite having designed clothes for almost two decades, Pham made unexpected remarks about his occupation: He does not want to consider fashion very seriously. An architecture major at Cooper Union in New York, he admitted to being a terrible architect. But he still seemed to admire architecture more than what he is doing now.
“Even now, I don’t think of myself as a fashion designer. I don’t think our brand is so fashionable. I just think we just offer nice clothes,” he said. “For some fashion designers, their clothes are their soul. For me it’s not like that. But architecture is different. When a building falls down, people die. Fashion is more like having fun. I only take it seriously as a business.”
By Seo Ji-eun [firstname.lastname@example.org]