Cover South Korean designers Jinwoo Choi and Yeonjoo Koo (Photo: J Koo)

Jinwoo Choi and Yeonjoo Koo are the husband-and-wife duo behind menswear label J Koo—Choi dishes to Tatler about her fashion journey

Finalists for the 2016 International Woolmark Prize, South Korean designers Jinwoo Choi and Yeonjoo Koo are the husband-and-wife duo behind menswear label J Koo. The two met while studying menswear design at Central Saint Martins and are known for taking traditional British Savile Row tailoring and applying it to their classic-with-a-twist womenswear collections.

Since its launch in 2010, J Koo has become one of the most popular brands to show at Seoul Fashion Week, and the designers collaborated with Adidas on its spring-summer 2020 collection and were selected to be among Fashion Asia’s 10 Asian Designers to Watch last year. Here, Choi tells us all about their journey.

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How did you first come to realise you wanted to work in fashion?

My family has always been quite artistic; my father paints as a hobby, my mother is always making clothes or curtains and my older sister is an artist, so I have always been surrounded by fashion and art for as long as I can remember.

What was the first roadblock you had to overcome?

We had to deal with financial issues when we started the brand and even a few years after launching. At the start of the business, I hadn’t yet figured out how to coordinate financial planning with the fashion schedule.

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What was your first job and what was the experience like?

I had an internship under the great English tailor Ozwald Boateng on Savile Row. It was a great opportunity to learn the best techniques in tailoring.

When did you first realise your brand was getting a lot of buzz?

After a few seasons showing at Seoul Fashion Week, people started to recognise the brand name and we had great responses from buyers. We even started getting students emailing us for internships from all around the world.

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Who’s the first celebrity you have dressed or want to dress?

The first celebrity we dressed was Girls’ Generation’s lead singer Taeyeon. After our fashion show, her stylist called us to pull clothes for Taeyeon, and after the photos were released, we had so many buyers and influencers requesting to buy the pieces.

Where is the first place you look for inspiration?

I love to people-watch through our studio window in Seoul; it’s my favourite thing to do.

What is your next goal?

We want to have international recognition and a strong, stable business. And to hopefully have another international brand collaboration in 2021.

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