Fashion is changing, with a lot of different people around the globe, the unveil of different societal issues, an increasing awareness of world´s inequality and a continuous growing desire to express ones individuality while still fitting into the larger picture. The fashion industry has to adapt to this new society values, if they want to keep being an asset in todays up-changing world.
For model and designer Kang Seungjin, all the reasons above are very important concepts. Having like many of us, gone through some specific issues himself, he has decided to be an active part of the change and take a stand, becoming a creator of his own values through his clothing brand, ARAS.
In a world where being unique and true to yourself is many times still not the easiest task to go through every day, he has decided to create a fashion brand that helps proudly express and accept all that uniqueness that is in every single one of us. All the small imperfections of our individual beauty, represented by his rare designs, done manually, which will help proudly own that misfit sensation that we all have inside at certain times.
With a brand aiming to provide that sense of uniqueness, designer Kang Seungjin has decided fashion should not be exclusive, nor excluding. Allowing his brand to emanate exclusiveness only through his designs, where each and every single one, is just like a real person, a sole and inimitable “one of a kind”. He provides collections that just like society can perfectly fit and coexist together beautifully, besides of how different they might look. In every single piece, made of pre-owned clothing items, he handprints the designs himself one at the time, each filled with care and love to follow-up with the motto of his fashion brand that aims to provide beautiful art, with exclusive designs, while not leaving anyone out.
I was quite curious to know the meaning behind the mysterious name of the brand, ARAS, which as I was told by Seungjin himself, comes from the two words that mean the most to him, human, in Korean Saram “사람” and love, in Korean Sarang “사랑”. If you look closely “saram” and “sarang” have a common base, sara, which if you observe carefully, you will realize is the inverted name of the brand, because as I was explained by Seungjin with excited eyes, both human and love and as I personally take from our whole conversation, specifically “human love” is a concept that is or at least should be essential in life.
In my personal opinion humans where made to give out love, to share emotions and empowerment with others, because I believe in a world that moves out of love, compassion and good intentions. Believing myself wholeheartedly into directing good, towards every person, creature or even the environment itself, the name and concept behind the brand and Seungjin himself, really resonated with me, making me want to interview him further, to share all the insight with all of you.
Being Seungjin an artist, of course the first thing I wanted to know is the reason that pushes him to create, being a creator myself, what impulses the decision of creation on others is a mesmerizing topic, to which Seungjin replied that at first whenever he created something he felt so good, that the feel and spirit of creating something became an important part of his life. Even on those occasions when he does not have the time to create, creation is still very valuable and because of that he does not want it to feel like a chore, so he lets himself create out of his real desire. Even if it is just once a month, in order not to lose that “special” feeling.
When I asked him about his first memory of him creating, among smiles he told me a story that he holds dearly, the story of when he was around 5 or 6, at that time in kindergarten and he drew his mother wearing a pink dress. He saw her so beautifully that he wanted to express that love and beauty and show it to her. As he explained, even up to this day, the whole memory is still a very clear image in his head, a memory in which he can still remember perfectly the whole scenario, from her loving reaction, to his feeling and even the way he had painted his drawing.
As every person that has an important message to deliver, his path might not have always been easy nor beautiful and therefore I decided to ask Seungjin about the different ways he had to walk to be here today and this was his answer:
“I started modeling, when I was in church, I saw an ad for modeling and I thought it was beautiful. To be honest, I had so many limits to be a model, I am not the particular shape they search in models in Korea, I might not be the tallest or the best looking, but I did my best in all I could and I ended up modeling.
Forcing myself to constantly fit standards laid upon me, made me lose myself, I became someone who I was not. At one point I had white hair when I modeled and in Korea there are certain standards that go together, with white hair the desired look is very skinny and I had to constantly fight to get to that weight, I always tried and tried to be as I was supposed to, but that was not me. I had decided to model to be happy, because it was something that made me happy, but that was not bringing me the happiness that I wanted…
But I could not find myself anymore when I looked in the mirror, I ended up hitting depression and bulimia, so one day I decided it was time to stop, I decided to quit for me. I decided to rest and think of myself and my desires, what I wanted to feel, I wanted to feel at peace, but while modeling I had an internal trouble that I needed to fix.
BuNow I can say that I did I overcome all those things and I encourage you to try to do the same, if you ever find yourself in that kind of situation. That is why I started painting again, because when I painted I felt free. Painting was a tool to help me find myself again, because when I paint I do not think about people. I do not think about anything, when I draw I just go with whatever my hand does and it is only after finishing when I start thinking about everything.
Drawing was a very powerful thing for me and because of that, now I paint to show people my feelings. I reflect on my life and the people I love after painting. So nowadays my dream, is to create things that help bring people calm and happiness. Healing, in a way, a strength for everyone to fight on their own path.”