Faded Glory (ViewPoint Colour)
Photo credit: Marc Hibbert
Although many designers are seeking slower collaborators in the natural world rather than turning to man or machine, few exercise the same degree of patience that Jiyong Kim’s approach to colour demands. Katie Treggiden meets the designer waiting months for the sun to fade his menswear collection.
While Jiyong Kim’s colleagues at Central Saint Martin’s were busying themselves experimenting with dyes and colourants for their graduate menswear collections, he was patiently waiting for parcels from his mother in South Korea. Having made the decision not to use any chemicals in the processing of his fabrics, Kim started his collection a year early, allowing him to utilise the very slow process of natural fading at the hands of his unlikely collaborators – the sun, the wind, the rain – and, of course, his mother, who oversaw the process in her back garden, sending him photographic updates and shipping pieces to London via DHL once he deemed the process complete. ‘I was very stubborn as I tried to be faithful to the concept of natural fading,’ he says. ‘Instead of using dyes, I experimented with putting fabrics out in a field where they would be exposed to all of nature’s conditions – sun, moon, wind and even rain. It was fascinating to watch the colours change. The result looks as if the fabrics are printed – but actually they were all faded, using a method of pleating and knotting, that creates shapes of its own.’
Motivated by the waste and pollution caused at every stage of fashion design, Kim not only ruled out working with chemical dyes, but also new fabric, sourcing instead antique materials from flea markets and vintage shops in Paris. ‘I have collected vintage clothing for most of my life,’ he says. ‘In fact, the inspiration for this collection came from different fading patterns caused by storage or display.’ Exploring the effect of the sun even further, he researched the ways in which people in hot countries use fabric to prevent sunburn and, inspired by Indian saris, used draping techniques without unnecessary seams to create natural silhouettes that emphasised the natural fading, while also reducing waste.
By drawing our attention to the potential for beauty in what many consider damage, Kim is questioning the cycles of waste to which so many of us unconsciously contribute. ‘I aimed to make a menswear collection that might nudge the fashion industry closer to sustainability,’ he says. His is a new idea, but a simple one. Perhaps fashion can avoid burning out, if it can only perfect the art of fading gracefully.
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Read more about Jiyong Kim here.
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