Made In Hong Kong: How Karmuel Young Is Redefining Masculinity
Karmuel Young launched his eponymous brand in 2014 and just last year made his mark as a finalist in Lane Crawford’s annual “Creative Call-Out” competition. Recognised for his unique reformation of the male silhouette using geometric shapes, Young has an understated alternative aesthetic that takes functional designs merged with bold pops of colour.
This year, Lane Crawford's "Creative Call-Out" has gone global, with applications closing on August 31, 2020, on their digital platforms. Committed to launching up-and-coming creatives, they're offering a HKD$100,000 cash prize, along with a tailored mentorship to one winner from each region. With a judging panel including Lane Crawford president Andrew Keith and renowned designer Alexander Wang, it's an opportunity of a lifetime for designers across all forms of media to make their start.
Young gives his two-cents on his experience in the Creative Call-Out, and how everything from Hong Kong flea markets to squares have shaped his latest collection.
Congratulations on your latest collection! Can you tell us more about it, and your main inspirations behind Project 04, “Form of Masculinity”?
Project 04 is about “Form of Masculinity”. I am trying to step up fused with the essence of geometry in reshaping body form and redefining masculinity.
By incorporating a more sophisticated palette and blocks while evolving the 2-dimensional skeleton into a 3-dimensional architecture, pieces like the Trapezium Shirt, Cuboid and Square Overshirts create a concrete and unconventional silhouette. While, The Padded Vest and V-mock neck Sweater embody the equilibrium of boldness and aesthetic figure of men.
You often use shapes like trapezia, or other works of art, to create unique silhouettes in your collections. Where did you first get this idea?
Before starting my clothing collection, I studied menswear history and development. I found it interesting that the buying behaviour of men in fashion is driven by fitting and functionality. There are a number of timeless and unique style from menswear labels, such as 501s from Levis, Polo shirt from Polo Ralph Laurent, Bomber jacket from Alpha Industry, etc. Therefore, I am trying to develop my own block of clothing as a start point, and present a uniqueness of the silhouette in a minimal approach.
I also asked myself what type of body form is ideal for men. I try to minimise and simplify the ideal men figure into geometric form, like the Trapezium block is reconstructed to emphasize the trapezium body form of male figures with bias cut with the wide shoulders, strong arms and tight waists, and showcase a perfect trapezium body form. On the other hand, the Cuboid and Square forms are used to emphasize the weight of edges to present a more stereoscopic silhouette. The blocks have been unobtrusively formulated with fine fabric to enrich the unique form as an accent to reshape.
This will be your fourth collection, and your second collection in menswear. Would you ever dip your toe back into footwear, or even try out womenswear?
I have never fixed myself as a menswear designer or accessories designer. I am always inspired by everyday routines and the enormous creative potential lay in menswear, and aspires to transform regular and easily forgotten details into unconventional possibilities with innovative execution. As long as I come up with any new idea to enrich the men’s wardrobe, I just make it. A menswear collection can show my aesthetic about menswear in a more completed way, from head to toe look.
How have has Hong Kong influenced your collections?
I always feel creatively stimulated just travelling around the city of Hong Kong, such as visiting flea market or vintage stores, trying to explore and experience new and old matter or anything that enriches my database and knowledge for creation. The craftsmanship of old pieces always inspired me to think forward and to redefine what new modern can be for menswear.
What markets or stores do you enjoy going to?
One of my favourite vintage shops in Hong Kong is called “Jiksap”, which is a 3600 sq feet shop located at To Kwa Wan. Whenever I visit the shop, I will spend several hours discovering the new treasures. The shop owner, Wing, always shares the story of each vintage item to me, and I appreciate his passion for collecting the old stuff.
You launched your eponymous label after becoming a finalist in Lane Crawford’s Creative Call Out in 2019. What was the one moment you weren’t expecting?
The one takeaway that I wasn’t expecting was my cuboid overshirt to be selected to be shot in Lane Crawford’s ‘Making Moments’ campaign in May. It is my honour to have my designs exposed and reach a wider audience. As a new designer label, Lane Crawford gave me the greatest support and opportunity to develop my branding and my business.
As an up-and-coming designer, what do you want to bring to the fashion scene?
Per my brand philosophy - “A New Man in Town”, my crafted menswear is engineered to embody minimalism and modernity. [I want to design something that is] tailor-made for men who seek alternative execution to regular fashion, answering operational and aesthetic needs, and creating new timeless pieces to men’s wardrobe.
See also: The Best Men’s Tailors In Hong Kong