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The fashion world is a big one. Yet there are times when it feels much smaller, due to an often overwhelming sense of market saturation. And as a fashion critic, you grow accustomed to seeing lots and lots of stuff, which blurs into a hazy memory of the cyclical trends regurgitated – albeit often very successfully – for commercial purposes. Then, once in a while, you come across something really, really good. A new idea; a new perception of the world and an innovatively articulated expression thereof. And it succeeds in standing out among all the stuff, as veritable fashion design worthy of both comment and applause.
Korean menswear designer Cy Choi has gone from strength to strength over recent seasons, further coming into his own with his SS15 collection. Choi’s work boasts that all-important balance between established sartorial favourites and subtle, artful updates that gently render contemporary contextualisation. Unless you’re Miuccia Prada, you simply can’t go about wholly revising ideals of ‘cool’ every six months. You have a studio and a team that won’t pay for itself, and you’re a young, emerging designer whose big dreams might need to be edited down somewhat before they come to fruition.
Choi seems to get it. Take that first jacket which serves to meet standard biker criteria: black leather, old-school notched lapels, and timeless rocker allure; nonetheless, the studs, zips and magnificent panel inserts to the sleeves bring newness to the picture. Essential and excellently done. Similar themes run throughout the collection of garments, many of which could merit just as in-depth an analysis. Those tapered, wide-cut trousers with their raw hems are magnificent, as are the several pairs of tailored shorts, varying in hardware-embellishment detail. Then there are the numerous pieces rich in sportswear connotations, be it in their fit or varsity stripes, which complement the more grunge-inspired looks and smarter tailoring alike. This is, of course, a smart move on his part: sportswear is the gift that keeps giving and a trend unlikely to dwindle all that soon.
Choi’s genius here is what he has worked to achieve since he has began designing: an intelligent offering of pieces that quietly break new ground, set within a framework of tremendously wearable fashion. In today’s industry, this understanding of how significant both sides of the fence are is rare, but imperative for success. You have to milk the cow to make a hamburger. Or something like that. You have to sell a few sweatshirts and leather bikers to afford yourself the opportunity to make men’s pumps, and ultimately produce that veritable fashion design that will gain you comment and applause.