While in NYC a month or so ago, I was grateful to meet up with my friend and amazingly talented, Jin Seo. Over the past 20 plus years, Jin has directed design for many of the world’s top fashion and activewear brands to include Jones New York, RLX Ralph Lauren, Hurley, and most recently, her own label 51INC. She is presently Design Director, Soft Home for Bed Bath and Beyond.
Jin was kind to answer a few questions with regards to her thoughts on the meaning/importance of textiles in her design process. Enjoy!
MG: I am curious as to how often a particular textile/material inspires you to design a product using it.
JS: Always! How and what is designed with interesting materials is very inspirational and part of my creative process, which is very strategic.
MG: In your design process, do you have a product in mind and seek a fabric to construct it with, or do you find a particular fabric and feel the need create something with it?
JS: I usually begin with a concept and then develop a fabric story. First however, it’s critical to understand what’s going to resonate with consumers I am designing for. I design with knits and wovens and need to touch and feel them to make sure they align with the concept. The knits form soft and flexible pieces while woven materials provide structure. I then like to develop or add my signature touch, or what I like to call ‘handwriting’. This could be a unique way of using proportion, or a particular fabric as a point of differentiation.
MG: As a successful designer of activewear and lifestyle apparel for major brands and now soft home products, what are some cross market trends when it comes to textile technology?
JS: There’s a lot of cross over in fashion and home with regards to technology and color. They follow one another. Technical fabrics for temperature and odor control that started in the outdoor/activewear industry are now found in home textiles used for sheets and bedding. Outerwear and active brands look to home for comfort trends.
MG: Speaking of textile performance trends, is there any particular textile/fiber performance characteristic or construction that you would like to see developed? If so what?
JS: I am seeing more protective fabrics used in healthcare applications being creatively used in home and activewear industries.
MG: Do you think consumers today are more knowledgeable and care about the ingredients that go into the products they wear or use in the home?
JS: Years ago I would have said yes, however now with the fast fashion movement consumers do not care as much. If a less expensive garment/product using lesser quality materials feels and looks similar to a more expensive garment/product using more expensive materials, they will go with the cheaper product. I am hoping that millennials, who reportedly care more about our environmental footprint, will pause and decide to invest in higher-quality, long-lasting products.
MG: What do you think makes a great textile supplier?
JS: One who is always asking questions and experimenting! One who collaborates and is holistic in its approach in with all aspects of the design process. A true partner in every respect!
Stay tuned for Material Girl’s next Q & A in February!