Exclusive: Jeremy Joo For Grailed
Exclusive: Jeremy Joo For Grailed
- Words Grailed Team
- Date October 03, 2016
Jeremy Joo has been quietly making some of the best repurposed denim around. Though up until now, not for sale, we've teamed up with him to offer a small capsule collection of sorts, entitled "Dangerous Man," through Grailed. Both extremely cerebral and tactile in his approach, Joo represents a new breed of global designer that we're excited to champion. Below is a conversation with the man himself in which he breaks down his influences and the studied process that goes into making each pair.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you live and what you do.
I am a curious person, vehement about interdisciplinary conjunctions between industries and people and all that pertains to the networks that tie them together. That means I like connections between something and other things and the people who get affected by those things. I am a man of God, an intern at East Room, the visual merchandiser at Nomad, and an eager learner of crafts that are dying. I am a Korean in Toronto and, at this point, I make clothes.
In your opinion, what’s special about Toronto’s men’s fashion scene?
I don't think there's anything special about any fashion scene. There isn't a widespread difference between Toronto, New York, Paris and other popular cities. The amalgamation of style seems to reflect a slightly varied, but very obvious reference to what has been popular on the Internet within the last five or so years. However, there are certain people who add a refreshing twist to a relatively flat mix, putting together brands like Gap and Bape with family hand me downs, or Costco clothes with Margiela and garments made by friends. Although, I speak on this with apprehension because the state of a scene doesn't mean anything. And if everyone is different to be different, then everyone's the same.
How has working at Nomad changed how you approach clothing as a designer?
The approach hasn't changed, but a noteworthy learning point has been the ability to see and feel garments by brands that I admire on a day-to-day basis. Also, with the influx of everyone and their brother calling themselves a designer when coming into the shop, it has revealed to me a lack of willingness to call myself one. The only people that really care about a title are your family and the government. To everyone else, it's just an expectation that is often set too quickly and haphazardly.
What inspired you to create your own line of denim?
For the past six years, I've worn in a pair of light wash denim, characterized by life's circumstances and travels. Amongst other instances, they've ripped because of rock climbing, moving apartments, playing sports and walking the desert. I patched them up a year ago because of heavy tears and a refusal to let the garment die, and ever since, people have wanted them, offering at times large sums for my personal pair. Friends convincing me to produce some has been the catalyst to the project, but as for inspiration, there was none. It was all a product of time. A pair of pants birthed by its destruction and a stubborn rejection of its original limitations has found new life in the form of these ten pairs made for others. Each garment is numbered, 01 to 10, my personal pair being 00, the starting point of the collection.
Explain the concept behind your "Dangerous Man" collection.
A man is dangerous because he has experienced a wide array of moments and is able to draw from this plethora of knowledge. There is none more dangerous than a man who has nothing to lose, so this collection portrays a relentless pursuit of experience, unabashed by the unknown and vigorously sincere.
The bandana is representative of gang culture's steadfast inner code, that begins each thought and dictates each move. The plaid is referential to country folk's ritualistic dedication, working tirelessly on the fields to become masters of the land. The indigo denim symbolizes the resilience of these groups to forces both within and outside. These aspects combined form the mentality surrounding the "Dangerous Man" concept. The pant is meant to be lived in and experience the hardships of life and the fruits of its labor. The pants are not the result of a life lived, but rather the byproduct it conjures.
Can you break down the process that goes into making each pair of your jeans?
Each pant started whole, but wore out as it went through another stage of time. Dragged around, run over mechanically and thrown off a cliff, outside forces chipped away at its exterior. A salt bath softened its defense and green coffee beans broke down its color. A sledgehammer created punctures, and hands tore at its wounds. Once the damage was done, the same hands that tore, aptly started repairing. Each patch on each pant was roughly hand-sewn as to procure a sense of tough recovery, while allowing the pant to be an ongoing canvas of perpetual imperfection and progression. Every stitch is a bandage on a scratch made by the imprint of time, allowing the unforgiving sincerity of experience to become visual proof of a pant worn well.
It seems like Korea was your home base for this project. What made you decamp there to create?
The project was a marriage between the terrain of Canada and the values of an old Korea. The rocks and cliffs of the North cut and ripped the material, while the mentality and fortitude of the East kept the fibers together. The physical labor of the work was done in Toronto, but the packaging and sealing in Seoul. Korea tied the vision together, considering the pants flew across the globe from Toronto to Seoul and then delivered to New York, adding further context to the life of the project. Everything thus far is but the beginning of the journey, despite having travelled already over 13,000 miles.
Do you have any influences or anything that you use to inform your overall creative process?
Nothing particularly consistent. At times, certain films provoke thoughts; at others, problems observed throughout the day expedite the process; at yet others, a dying craft or technique will itch an idea. However, I do have a rotation of people and topics that I look to for stimulation, such as director Akio Yamakawa and the friends I have around me.
Who are your personal favorite designers and/or brands and what kind of impact do they have on you and your product?
For those who know me well, I thoroughly enjoy Daike Suzuki's work for his consideration of minute details and intention behind them. I am also fond of each member of the Comme des Garçons empire, as well as companies like Braun and a small traditional garment dying production on Jeju Island. The aforementioned designers, brands and companies each shine their own nuances and subtleties in what I make, but they vary each time. Different combinations of such yield different results and that's the beauty of it all.
How would you describe your personal style?
It's simply that: personal. It varies from day-to-day. Sometimes, it's these jeans and a customized Ralph Lauren shirt, and other times, it's huge overalls and Vans. I really just wear the same thing and rinse the rotation until I get tired of it and make something new. But at the end of the day, the style I have is genuine to me, so I don't know what to call it other than mine.