QUT leads Australia/Korea fashion fusion

QUT design students develop international business skills and encourage bilateral relationships in the 2018 Australia-Korea Foundation Emerging Designer Program.

K-Pop, psychedelia, stylish streetwear, ethical production, mixed media and experimental sensuality – all themes that underscored the imaginative, cutting edge work of four young fashion designers chosen to participate in the recent Australia-Korea Emerging Designers Exchange Program.

The ground-breaking program was launched in 2017 and is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Korea Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. A collaboration between QUT and the Seoul National University, it promotes designer innovation, cross cultural inspirations and international competitiveness.

The 2018 winners

Melbourne-based Nixi Killick has clients including Lady Gaga and Kimbra. They are among a growing band of international fans of her NXK brand which she describes as a vibrant mix of psychedelic artwork and sculptured techno-induced wearable’s.

NXK is an independent label which aims to establish a global ‘Colourtribe.’ Underpinning her explosive and sometimes bizarre designs is Killick’s strong commitment to unique products, ethical production and quality.

Hannah Kim founded Haluminous, her Sydney-based womenswear and accessories brand in 2016. Through the label she has created a new category of cool, edgy yet romantic street couture, fusing experimental textiles, art, and fashion, whilst staying true to her passion for elaborate craftsmanship and delicate details.

Hwansung Park is a K-Fashion designer. His D-ANTIDOTE designs are prized by K-Pop stars and many others worldwide. His label crosses over between menswear and womenswear, due to gender fluid styling. His goal is to use his designs to find points of contact between the trends and characters of London and Seoul.

Eunhye Jo has been presenting women’s collections under the label BOURIE since 2014, all designed, developed and made in Seoul. Bourie is derived by the way of atelier for experimental and sensual tailoring. Jo exposes conceptual artistic subject matters through fabric, photography, film, and artwork.

Coinciding with Australia Fashion Week, this year’s exchange follows on from the success of last year’s program.

The winners enjoyed a week in Seoul, South Korea in March and most recently in Brisbane and Sydney. In Australia, they visited trade events, investigated the local fashion industry, attended workshops, were hosted by the Korean Consul General Mr Sangsoo Yoon in a private event, were advised by industry mentors, toured retail stores, gave presentations to QUT design students and had the opportunity to collaborate with each other.

Australia-Korea Emerging Designer Exchange Program 2018 photoshoot

A collaborative photoshoot was a part of the Australia-Korea Emerging Designer Exchange Program 2018.

QUT Creative Industries lecturer and leader of the exchange program Melanie Finger said a key aim of the program was to develop international business skills and connections for the designers.

“The Korean fashion market is worth $60 billion so Australian designers have many opportunities there. At the same time, Korean designers are equally keen to make their mark in Australia,” she said.

“Fashion is serious business in Korea and Australia. This program is an opportunity for emerging designers from both countries to collaborate and grow their brand. Our sales model is very different to that experienced by Korean designers while they have the advantage of being able to source and manufacture their designs locally.”

The many highlights of the Australian leg of the program included participation in an ‘Australian Fashion’ panel with industry luminaries including Lydia Pearson (from Easton Pearson) and Palmina Martin (from street brand Black Milk) who shared their experiences and advice, a visit to the Billabong head office on the Gold Coast and in depth look at Australian Design and lifestyle.

Australia Korea Emerging Designer Exchange Program 2018 Participants

Australia Korea Emerging Designer Exchange Program 2018 participants visit the Gold Coast.

In Sydney they visited the Opera House, took in a Woolmark presentation at The Rocks where they learnt about the licensing requirements involved in obtaining the prestigious Woolmark logo on their garments, toured Museum of Contemporary Art and had front row seats to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia shows by the likes Akira and Camilla.

“In Sydney our winners were also able to attend the industry trade talks at Carriageworks which gave them an extraordinary insight into the business,” said Ms Finger.

“The first session showed then the value of what goes on behind the scenes at Fashion Week, including insights for first time exhibitors – something they all aspire to be.

“They also enjoyed hearing Akira share insights into his brand, followed by the team behind Australia’s biggest online fashion platform ‘the Iconic’ who delved into design thinking and their uniquely successful business strategy.

“Another Sydney highlight for Nixi, Hannah, Hwansung and Eunhye was working on a photo shoot together – they hired a photographer and model and styled a shoot combining their collections, on the local Sydney streets. It was a wonderful example of a cross-cultural experience managing four different opinions and goals.

“The collaborative photoshoot is an example of how programs such as the Australia-Korea Foundation Emerging Designer program encourage bilateral relationships and help the two countries understand more about each other’s industry,” said Ms Finger.

Australia-Korea Emerging Designer Exchange Program 2018 photoshoot, behind-the-camera

Australia-Korea Emerging Designer Exchange Program 2018 participants work on a collaborative photoshoot.

Follow the program on INSTAGRAM: #akf_emerge