Paris, London, Milan, New York: The old world playgrounds of Prada-clad editors have stayed in the fashion capitals for long enough. In an age of democratized fashion where style bloggers and Tumblr rub shoulders with Roitfelds, we’re demanding fresh blood and new territories. We want change, damnit, and as Twitter-reared youth, we want it now. So to begin, we’ve scoured stylish cities around the world for their brightest visionaries—designers making big waves in their countries that will undoubtedly reach our shores.
Seoul-based Steve J. & Yoni P. are the quirky design duo behind the eponymous womenswear label. By injecting whimsy and funk into a high-end sensibility, they’ve arguably become the most celebrated design team in Seoul with a flagship store in the trendy Itaewon district titled, “Two Heads are Better Than One.” They’ve collaborated with movers and shakers like Jeff Koons as well as Carla Sozzani’s design emporium, 10 Corso Como, and with influential buyers like Opening Ceremony paying attention, they’re well on their way to global recognition.
The two designers embody the spirit of their brand from Steve J.’s Harry Potter-esque glasses and trim moustache to Yoni P’s platinum blonde hair and coal-rimmed eyes. And as if that isn’t enough, they’re married in real life—a relationship that exudes jubilance and charm which reflects onto their collections. They showed their most recent collection for F/W 2012 at Concept Korea during New York Fashion Week and at Seoul Fashion Week along with the concept tagline: “And the moon came nearer…” referring to a practical approach to intergalactic gear. Their futurism isn’t bogged down by spacesuits or sci-fi movie references; instead it’s a wearable array of oversized jumpers, slinky dresses, and prints inspired by outer space—think cartoon supernovas or what Astro Boy might have worn if he had been a downtown girl. Details come in the form of star studs and rocket insignia, literal nods to their inspiration.
BULLETT: How did you meet at start the brand Steve J. & Yoni P.?
YONI P: Actually we met in Korea while studying fashion design and then went to London to study together. I got my M.A. in womenswear from the London College of Fashion while Steve got his M.A. and B.A. in menswear from Central St. Martins. So by the time we started our brand, we had already been together for over ten years.
What is the design process like with two designers?
We don’t really separate our roles in the design process, but Steve does do more of the illustration while I focus more on concepts and design. Since we’ve been together [in a relationship] for so long, we know exactly what each other wants, so we’re pretty in sync all the time.
What woman wears Steve J. & Yoni P.? Who would you like to see your designs on?
We really love that a lot of Korean celebrities and K-Pop stars like singer Hyori Lee and actress Gyuri Kim have worn our clothes.
What’s next for Steve J. & Yoni P.?
For the past three seasons we’ve been showing at Concept Korea during New York Fashion Week and have been getting really good feedback from buyers and the press, so we definitely plan to keep showing in New York. By 2015, we hope to be established as a recognizable designer brand within the global market.
What do you think about Seoul Fashion Week? How do you think it might evolve or change?
The government’s really supporting the development of Seoul Fashion Week, and we definitely feel that foreign buyers and press are watching the Korean fashion market with more interest than in the past.