SEOUL — With South Korea’s fashion landscape cluttered with proper and practical chain stores, and overtly feminine intimates, it can be challenging for the modern South Korean woman to embrace her inner erotica.
“There are no designer lingerie brands in Korea,” said designer Vina Jung. “Everything is mass-produced, like H&M or whatever.”
So in October 2012, the Seoul native founded and became chief executive officer of the first South Korean designer lingerie line, Vina J. Lingerie, satisfying the appetite for couture lingerie of the women on the southern peninsula.
“Vina J. Lingerie is a fetishism-inspired fashion lingerie brand,” she said of the collection, which features geometric lines, cross-stitch straps, vivid colors and a Goth-meets-flapper-era vibe. Vina J. Lingerie’s products include garter belts, bustiers, tailored corsets, capes, chunky chain collars and see-through panties. Bold colors like blood red and classic black make bikini bottoms and push-up-style bras timeless, while thick straps, running diagonally across the upper chest, are reminiscent of a late-Nineties Alexander McQueen silhouette.
The company is still small, counting only about 30 employees, yet is quickly gaining momentum. Jung is thinking about opening up a small shop next to her showroom, a place for customers to order and try on pieces sometime next year, and is in the process of launching a men’s line. In July, she participated in Mode City Paris, with the hopes of finding international buyers. While she has no distribution outside of South Korea, Jung hopes her designs will eventually appeal to fashion-forward international women. She declined to reveal the company’s sales.
“I wanted to create a line that allowed women to be self-confident and express themselves,” Jung said.
Jung, 31, is no newbie when it comes to fashion. At 24, after studying medical technology in the U.S., she switched continents once again to pursue her interests in fashion at Esmod fashion design school in Paris. It was there that she was inspired by designers like Donatella Versace — “Her sexy and provocative designs always stimulate me” — and Jean Paul Gaultier’s “structural and conceptual corset designs.”
Despite her work attracting attention from Italian Vogue and celebrities like Katy Perry, as well as taking first prize in France’s Triumph Inspiration Award in 2009, Jung decided to return to South Korea to start her own brand.
She works out of her small studio and showroom in Seoul’s hip Dongdaemun district, designing, editing and constructing samples. While many of Jung’s designs are made-to-order, the bulk of her collection is produced by larger manufacturers in Seoul. She said she “insists on Korea-produced products. Quality is very important for me.”
Vina J. Lingerie is made of spandex and polyester, with metallic rings on the adjustable straps, which she says are the most durable and cost-effective materials. She would like to use more silk in the future, but said the silk production industry hasn’t been fully developed yet in South Korea.
Prices start at 90,000 won, or about $88, for a standard bra and run up to about 200,000 won, or $195.18, for more elaborate bras, negligees and bustiers. She sells through her own Web site as well as other online South Korean stores like Hyundai Hmall, W Concept and Cracker.
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