Simplicity, theory, and artistic philosophy – HanaCha Studio has returned to London Fashion Week with her latest AW20 collection highlighting the minimalist label of abstract designs and patterns.
Hana Cha is an internationally recognised womenswear label, who gained attention after receiving the “Collection of the Year 2012” award from the V&A Museum. Currently residing in Seoul, South Korea, her pieces centralise around the concepts of “Art inspired fashion. Fashion becomes art”. The fused approach of art with fashion is her signature, but what sets her apart from other contemporary designers is Hana’s theoretical background “highlighting the quintessential identity” within her designs and sculptures.
The ‘simplification’ and minimalization of intricate patterns and silhouettes, inspired by the works of Picasso and Bauhaus breathes through the entire AW20 collection. The collection may be considered as ‘artistic fashion’ – but they are the piece of art themselves.
With her exceptionally intellectual – yet innovative mind, we discover how the artist expands her academic approach, through simplification and manifestation of fabrics, into an abstract and sustainable fashion collection.
London Fashion Week, went digital this year for all the AW20 and SS21 collections. How do you feel about that? Do you want to continue or do you think it will pass the pandemic?
Oh, yes. I would like it to continue. It's weird, but somehow, I feel quite comfy. I don't need to pack all my luggage, no need to have my flight for 11 hours from Korea. So, it's come in handy in a way, I'm quite satisfied with how it turned out. But I do miss the atmosphere of Fashion Week. I can't get any feedback [of the show] right away. I don't know how it's going to be like, but it would be good to have it both ways; digital and the real Fashion Week - to harmonise them. I'm quite happy but I do miss my second city, London, a lot. I miss the autumn weather!
2020 has been quite tough on everyone. How did you deal with the pandemic, personally and creatively?
Yes, I must say that there were lots of differences before the pandemic. It's quite hard this season at the moment; personally, business-wise, in more creative ways. It's hard to broaden my perspective to it as it's different from previous situations. I wish it [the pandemic] could blow over, but I'm not sure it will be exactly the same as before. I think that we should keep these online platforms and digital things. I think it's kind of like our destiny.
Your brand is based in both cities, London and Seoul. Where are you the most time of the year?
I'm based in Seoul at the moment. But, I prefer to present my collections in London, but Seoul as well, because it's my home city. I'm going to have my digital Seoul Fashion Week next month. It's the very first time I’m presenting my collections in Seoul - which is exciting! I like to balance between London and Seoul, because I used to study in Seoul, and I got many experiences in London as well. So, I do like to have some good connections in both ways. That's what I've done so far.
You define yourself as an "interdisciplinary designer and researcher", which certainly comes out in your collections and your artwork. What inspired you for your latest collection?
The title for AW20 was "Assemblage", which is the three-dimensional collage from Picasso's sculptures. The style is Cubist which has simplified shapes, base and figures. I was inspired by that and wanted to reflect these elements in my collections. At this stage, it was art that inspired fashion. For the next stage, I was influenced by my collections for my artworks. It was simplifying the process which was inspired by Picasso's works and has links to Bauhaus' simplicity as well. So, for my collections, I extracted simplified figurations, like steamed lines, scales, and circles, and I just made them into a three-dimensional collage or a sculpture, so it's kind of both; fashion and art - that was the concept for the previous season [AW20].
I noticed that you have begun doing some handcrafted pieces recently.
I discovered these kinds of fabrications in 2012 when I was at the London College of Fashion. They are similar, in a way, in terms of simplified cuts. I made some paintings, which had two-dimensional brush strokes. I extracted this concept and it became those tiny, fluffy, three-dimensional, fringe brush strokes. This is kind of like my symbol, I'd like to say that. I've been sticking my signature as my identity for these collections.
Amazing. And what usually fuels you creatively?
Obviously, because I've been doing quite similar things, I know what I'd like to do as a clue for my designs, aesthetically speaking. I'm always into art pieces or paintings. It's quite a specific period, from Cubism until Bauhaus, which is right before modernism. Whenever I'm going to galleries or the department store - if I see something elective, I just capture it and try to remember where it was, so that I can use it for my collections or artwork. This is what I've always done. I also like reading books - well, I like the shape of books! I like spending time at the library. Last season, when I was in Paris, and I found some very, very fancy bookstores, like antique books. I was so inspired! I wanted to fill my whole studio with all kinds of books, so that's why I have so many of them behind me!
Do you have a favourite piece from your collection?
I believe the strength of my collection, is the long-fringed coat. The shape is quite strong, but it's also very simple and minimal-line, so it can be masculine, but I do like to add some femininity as well - creating a balance.
You've also mentioned the aspect of "seasonless" in your LFW promo-video. Do you believe that the traditional fashion shows are at an end and that "timeless" collections are the future of fashion?
I think it'll be changing the fashion industry, as fashion is always keen on trends. Fashion goes so fast - we must find a trend that is more sustainable. This is a global issue, regardless of fashion; its science, economy, societies. It’s a very crucial keyword for the future. We haven't got the right answer at the moment but I think we have to chase the answer for the future, and I think fashion can be a clue to this.
One of your main values is 'slow fashion' and 'sustainability'. What does sustainability mean to you and how important is it to the future of the industry?
Sustainability, and craftsmanship, in particular, is very important to me - it the basis for all my projects and collections.
When sourcing your materials for new collections and artwork, what factors are most important to you?
I mostly look out for shapes and composition of the material - and always black & white.
South Korea is the home of fast-fashion production. Do you believe that this could soon change/do you see any change now?
South Korea is very accustomed to IT and technology - everyone is swiping and scrolling non-stop on their phones or other devices. Everyone is also very fashionable and social media influencers are very popular. But because of this, the turnover of garments is so fast - trends do not stay for a very long time. Possibly, if the change was related to technology in some way, the people would follow the 'new trend' of sustainability.
What do you think is the most effective way to promote fashion sustainability?
Big brands and social media influencers hold the most power with the promotion of any product or ideology. They are the ones who hold the biggest following and influence over what happens in fashion; the trends, the politics, and it’s future. But we also need the education; from universities and businesses, from every corner of the fashion society. Their issues of sustainability are getting crucial, but it is a process. Hopefully, we can have something for the future. I’m going to keep doing it.
Thank you to HanaCha Studio for speaking with us and for providing the visuals.