above: a look from s u w h a Spring/Summer 09
all images courtesy of s u w h a
London-based womenswear designer Suwha Hong is on a roll. After launching her collection a little over two years ago, her wonderful tailored jackets and coats as well as her impeccably constructed hats (handmade in London) have been picked up by major retail outlets, such as Henri Bendel in New York and Austique in London. I visited her stall at the Exhibition for London Fashion Week and had a chance to look at her Autumn/Winter 09 collection, which was full of soft, cashmere jackets and coats tailored in a quintessentially English style and finished with modern details (such as triple-belted trenches)-- basics which will surely serve their owners well season after season. Here is a little introduction to s u w h a from the designer herself. Check it out and let me know what you think!
You made a nontraditional leap into fashion, after starting a career in the corporate world. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started as a designer?
I started my label in 2007 and launched with my first collection “hello, goodbye” for the Autumn/Winter 08 season. I had always loved playing dress up and dabbled in all types of creative endeavours when I was in school but I took a bit of a detour when I went to law school right after college. I practised corporate law for five years, but it never took – and so I came back to my original love after quitting my law job and travelling for a couple of months. I settled in London where I took courses in all aspects of garment construction and fashion design and interned for a London based designer. The concept of my line comes from the muse I have in mind: the adventuresome woman who is intelligent, curious, effortlessly stylish and on-the-go. The focus of my line is jackets/coats/hats because I wanted to focus on essential items for this muse.
Moving on to your collections. What were some of the inspirations behind them?
I have had three collections so far, and the inspiration behind each of them has been very different. But no matter the specific inspiration, I always like to keep the core concept of the s u w h a piece the same – all the pieces have to be intelligently considered, be wearable and have details that render each garment unique.
The first collection, “hello, goodbye” was inspired by urban modern architecture – so there were lots of clean lines and geometric details throughout the collection. The second collection for Spring/Summer 09 “morningside affair” was inspired by Edward Hopper paintings, so in that collection you’ll see lots of bright bold colours.
This third and most recent collection for Autumn/Winter 09 “the mistaken identity of francis tumblety?” was inspired by the sordid histories surrounding the East London neighbourhood where our studio is currently located. The muse is both detective and potential victim of crime, hot on the trail of Francis Tumblety, one of the Jack the Ripper suspects. It was really fun to shoot the pictures for this collection, since we shot in the locations where the Jack the Ripper mystery played out all those years ago.
Do you do a runway show or presentation?
We currently show the collection each season at the Exhibition at London Fashion Week, at the Coterie during New York Fashion Week and also at Zip Zone Showroom during Paris Fashion Week.
Do you design with an ideal customer in mind? If so, describe her.
Our ideal customer would be someone who appreciates intelligent design and cute, unique details. Someone who is effortlessly stylish and isn’t a slave to trends. Someone who can pull off clean lines and look beautiful practising the less is more concept to style.
above: more looks from Spring
What stores currently carry your line?
We are currently stocked in top boutiques and department stores across the globe, Henri Bendel in New York, Austique in London, United Arrows in Tokyo to name a few. We just opened our own online shop www.suwha.com this week and can accept orders from most countries around the globe through the online shop.
Any plans for the future? Future projects we should know about?
The new online shop is huge for us. Although we have great stockists all of the globe, it is awesome to be able to make our pieces accessible to almost anyone who desires them! We are also starting a blog: adventures of curious jacket, which will follow "curious jacket" to all its favourite haunts in London as well as around the globe.
For more information on s u w h a and to shop online, check out http://www.suwhahong.com!
suwha profile on the London Fashion Week website
StyleCaster shop feature on suwha
Harper's Bazaar covers suwha's web store opening
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