We were thrilled to announce Rejina Pyo as an Onloan brand, and leapt at the chance to interview the designer about her eponymous label, set up in 2014.
HI REJINA! YOU SPENT YOUR EARLY LIFE IN SEOUL BEFORE MOVING TO LONDON – CAN YOU TELL US HOW THE TWO CITIES HAVE INFORMED WHO YOU ARE? ALSO HOW DO YOU APPROACH DESIGN?
I believe both have influenced the designs in their own way. I think Korea will always influence details in the designs, whether it is the cut of a shirt, or a design shape, such as our Nane bag being inspired by Korean Boajaji, where a piece of cloth is used to wrap gifts with a large knot on the top. London is a wonderful city to be a fashion designer. There is so much inspiration here, from museums and galleries to architecture and the arts, which I try to experience whenever I can.
WE HAVE READ THAT YOUR MOTHER WAS A COLLECTOR. DO YOU THINK YOUR WORK HAS BEEN INFLUENCED BY A ‘COLLECTOR’S MENTALITY’ – AND IF SO, HOW?
Yes, in the sense that I am always interested in what I see around me, and I enjoy collecting objects, sculptures and pieces of art from wherever I am at the time, whether that be a car boot sale, an auction or a market I have stumbled across while travelling. It excites me to bring these unrelated pieces together and figure out a way for them to live harmoniously as a collective. And of course they all inform my designs in one way or another.
AT THE START OF YOUR CAREER YOU WERE SYNONYMOUS WITH DRESSES, BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO THE BRAND NOW. TELL US HOW IT HAS EVOLVED?
I think the collections are often an extension of my personal style, the mood I’m feeling at the time that I’m designing, and what I want to be wearing next. The collections evolve over time as does my personal style. As the brand has grown, we have added more ready to wear styles, expanding our product mix. We now create shoes and handbags, unisex styles, swimwear – and more recently we launched a kidswear collection.
IT’S CLEAR ART PLAYS A BIG ROLE IN YOUR DESIGNS. CAN YOU TELL US ANY SPECIFIC ARTISTS YOU FIND YOURSELF GOING BACK TO FOR INSPIRATION?
I often return to the work of Angela de la Cruz, Milton Avery, Brancusi and Barbara Hepworth for inspiration. Their work is constantly informing my use of colour and the silhouettes we create.
CONGRATULATIONS ON LAUNCHING KIDSWEAR! WHAT PROMPTED THE DECISION?
Childrenswear is something I have been thinking about since having my son Luka four years ago. I have team members who are parents, and many of my friends now have kids so it felt like a natural next step. I wanted to create a relaxed, easy-to-wear kids collection with a twist, which doesn’t create a big divide between girls and boys fashion.
WE’RE SO GLAD YOU’RE PART OF THE ONLOAN FAMILY. WHAT DOES SUSTAINABILITY MEAN TO YOU?
I’ve always cared about the environment but it wasn’t until I started to work in fashion I became aware of the full extent of the problem. There was a time I really considered whether I wanted to be a part of this industry, but a longtime friend of mine who is now one of our directors and a sustainability expert, said “if you just walk away from this nothing will change, you need to be in it to make a real difference.” I think it’s important to acknowledge every product has an impact and that sustainability is an ongoing journey, not a destination. It requires continual reflection and improvement. Resale and Rental platforms are a step in the right direction, we encourage our customers to use them when available.
QUICK FIRE ROUND● Dress or separates?Separates
● Music or podcast?Music
● Stay in or go out?Go out
● Beach or countryside?Beach
● Painting or photography?Painting
● Pink or orange?Orange
● Silver or gold?Gold
● Flowers or candles?Candles
● Volume or streamlined?Streamlined
● Spots or stripes?Stripes
● Seoul or London?Can’t I have both?!
● Breakfast or lunch?Lunch