Beyond Closet by Tae Yong is an example of the interesting brands coming out of South Korea that have made the international fashion press sit up and pay attention to the Asian nation in the last half decade or so.
The enigmatically named brand is based in the relatively simple concept of reinterpreting men’s sartorial classics with a trendy but sophisticated flair that gives them exactly the appeal that the brand’s target twenty and thirty-something customers want.
In existence for some three years or so, Beyond Closet, with designer Ko Tae Yong at the helm, epitomises the conceptual thrust of the contemporary Korean designers. Lyrical and poetic, the underlying ideas that drive Tae Yong’s approach to a collection often involve grand narratives, sometimes on a cinematic scale. For example, a previous collection was inspired by the idea of a young soldier drafted to war and his homesickness and thoughts of family and loved ones left behind. It’s not hard to see how such ideas, perhaps rather foreign to certain western approaches to fashion, might strike a chord with the spilt Korean nations. But, there’s also something of the much-praised Korean cinema tradition about the whole approach; the idea that even fashion can contain such loaded and evocative triggers, not unlike the films of his namesake, director, Kim Tae Yong.
Beyond Closet’s AW10 collection is no less evocative of the historic with vintage shapes that tread a line between Great Depression chic and dandyism. There’s a definite nod to proletarian heroes in the form of worker’s caps and utilitarian garments such as carpenter’s dungarees or boxy jackets. But, these are elevated into the attire more fit for a country gentlemen in their execution in hunting check or quality wool. In fact, one could even say that the collection is a clever conflation of the wardrobe of working class artisans with that of the country squire. Shooting jackets – complete with traditional rifle pads at the shoulder- are mixed with garments including the utility belts of tradesmen.
The forms naturally have an interesting resonance in the Asian context given the region’s political history in the last one hundred years or so. But they are also international, with the political questioning prompted by economics that now affect us all sewn into the semiotics.
Charcoal, deep reds, warm browns and deep muted blues form a broad and coordinated palette that stands out against the ubiquitous monochromes that seem to permeate many other collections this winter.
The overall cohesion and the fact that Beyond Closet offers yet another collection that is both accessible and highly creative makes it easy to understand why the brand is tipped to be the ‘next big thing’ out of Korea on the international scene.