One day, a green book was delivered to our showroom.the title is LIKE S!
I had an interview for <LIKE S> after my speech at Sustainable Fashion Summit Seoul during the Seoul Fashion Week last September. And now I introduced it here.
What was the important thing for preparing for this speech? What did you plan to delivery it well?
We try to deliver sustainable, ethical efforts in fashionable, poetical ways. Because we are a fashion brand, before being activists. My speech was prepared with the same thought. Still lots of people intend to think sustainable fashion too obvious. I can not say that it’s a bad thing. But I just hope there’s a variety of other approaches for sustainable fashion and we hope OPEN PLAN does the same.
What made you pursue sustainable fashion?
I think it was because of an uncomfortable feeling about trash. Korean fashion system required independent designers to sell them in consignment terms. That’s what we’d been doing for a while. After seasonal sales, consignment stores returned stocks. And it was very distressed. And we tried to find what we could do in the system which made huge trash after just one season, no matter how pretty they were. Not only <Plastic China> but also many documentary films and news made it possible to launch OPEN PLAN. In addition, as we’ve been experiencing problems with fine dust and recycling garbage disposal issues, we became more and more concerned that we must go forward to sustainable living.
We’re finding it difficult to develop new materials and items by ourselves. Even the best ideas must be backed up by technologies, and we also have to wait for good atmosphere in society for the ideas. We’re waiting for not only the materials, but also the development of sustainable processes for production. Now we’re paying more attention to what we can do right away. They are linen, organic cotton, and lyocell. We also work hard to look for up-cycled fabrics. And I think a lot about how to use these materials that are currently available. We’re trying to take a new approach, not the way we used it.
What made you find nut button that is a little unfamiliar to me?
Nut buttons have a pretty long history. Before plastic was invented, so before zipper were invented, horn, shell, wood, and etc. are the materials for buttons. As we’d strictly restrict the use of plastic, they were the materials we could have. And the nut was judged to be the most sustainable materials to us. Horn and shell were animal materials. And I was afraid that we could not identify where they were taken from. Also wood materials were impossible, because they were made with protected species. Nut buttons are made from ivory palm tree nuts, which have been used as buttons and sculptures for many years. Unlike poor elephants that get killed for their beautiful ivories, the trees can last for over 100 producing years. The nuts only falls down from trees after being fully ripe and this is the best moment for manufacturing buttons. In other words, it is a sustainable resource in that using nut buttons avoids indiscriminate tree cut downs. These all made me feel attractive about this nut button.
How do you solve the problem of not having plastic zippers?
We decided to refrain from using zippers that were designed to be easily worn. And it takes little more time to get dressed. It happed to be a really ‘Slow Fashion!’ Comparing to the past, we limit use of variable materials as usual. But creativity comes through constraints. So now, we are grateful for the constraints and work hard to surpass the limit of our creativity as usual.
Helsinki Fashion Week (HFW), who focus on sustainable and circular economy, is very different from any other fashion week. What did you feel at HFW? And how is sustainable fashion is talked and consumed there?
Being established in 2015, HFW has become an event focusing more on the value of creating and sharing the fashion industry than any other fashion week that focuses on production and consumption.This year, 20 brands from all over the world were together in fashion shows, keynotes, talk panels, and new materials exhibitions here and there in Helsinki. Comparatively HFW is small. So it made us talk to and share more about sustainability and other fashion issues with not only designers but also with fashion people around the world.
There were a lot of memorable efforts not only in the content of sustainable fashion itself, but also in other parts of it, in the Palace of Nobility, where the fashion shows were held, there was a bio curtain. It was the idea that the photosynthesis of algae played the role of the urban tree, and it felt like an idea that was only found in science fiction. There were kick boards ready for the movement of the venue throughout the city, facility where the kinetic energy of the bicycle could be electrified and used with the solar panel, water fountain for drinking water while carrying tumbler, and trash disposal baskets all over the venue said PLASTIC, BIO, METAL and HEART_ACHE cutely.
In fact, I think pursuing sustainable fashion, living, industry or whatever, is something that we have to take care of and manage in very detail. In that sense, I felt HFW was different from other fashion week, which has been paying a lot of attention to the outward appearance. Their eco bag was also ethically made with GOTS certified organic cotton.
What do you think of meaning of sustainability in this era?
Last June, it was a hot issue that Extinction Rebellion sent an official letter to British Fashion Council to cancel London Fashion Week. They also said stopping one fashion week was not what they claim. I think we cannot deny everything we’ve done. But if we act the same way as usual, there will be no more sustainability.
I feel that pursuing sustainability is the mission that has been thrown at our generation, and perhaps it would be our last chance for mankind. It looks so heavy. But if you look around, you’ll notice that a lot of people with this ideas are doing it in very fun and beautiful ways compared to its serious word.
As we may know, we need to perform well in order to pursue sustainable fashion. We must not just stop simply denying and boycotting existing practices. And we have to be more fashionable and friendly. Must do better. As a sustainable fashion brand, to have a stronger basics and a better collection is our obvious and important next plan. Strengthening the basics means studying materials more and caring more about the supply chain. The more we study, the more we feel that we don’t know and we have to try harder. Personally, I’m going to do a deeper reflection on beauty in order to do a great collection, by asking myself what I hope to suggest to people living in contemporary times. And during my business trip to London, I thought a lot at museums: what is valuable to us, what lasts long? These questions allowed me to have a little bit different view to good design from the past. I think it will guide to our future design.
When I see you planting trees, minimalizing printing lookbook, and being Vegan, your entire life seems to be looking k in sustainable direction, not only OPEN PLAN. Can you recommend practice and habit to people who want to live a sustainable life?
Once you’re interested in living sustainably, you’ll find your best way naturally. Before I recommend a specific way, I would like to say this. Even though the things that you could do for environment seem insignificant, keep going. Carrying fabric bags and tumbler, using menstrual cup and cloth sanitary pads made me feel that I personally reduced wastes so much. And I’m getting more and more confident and stronger. If you could share your idea about practices with your friends, it would be so fun. Because while my practice seems quite reasonable, others’ sometimes seems too stubborn and funny. Also another way to find a sustainable approach is to join in activities by several groups. We’ve also worked with a social venture company, Tree Planet, for planing trees, and there’re lots of people beach-combing, working for animal welfare and etc. If with them, it will be easier to find good way for yourself about sustainable living.