Monday, April 5, 2010

'Korea Needs Only One Representative Fashion Show'

Fashion designer Rubina
If the government is serious about globalizing Korean fashion, it should be ready to give more financial support to designers, according to top fashion designer Rubina.

``I believe the government does not support us enough. For designers to have a collection shown overseas, you need at least 100 to 150 million won ($88,600 to $133,000). So in a year, you need at least 300 million won. To do that for 10 years, you can imagine how much money the designer would need. What the government gives us in support now is very minimal compared to what is needed,'' she said in an interview with The Korea Times last week.

Rubina recently presented her fall/winter collection at Seoul Fashion Week, considered the biggest fashion event in Korea. The designer is considering presenting an international collection to generate more awareness of her brand, but admitted it is very difficult.

``If you start doing a collection abroad, you need to do it for at least 10 years. In Korea, there is no system where a sponsor helps you with your overseas collection. You have to do it yourself and you have to know the system... But I do think doing a collection overseas is the only way to let the international market know about your brand,'' she said.

Although a handful of Korean designers have presented international collections, they have yet to make a breakthrough compared to Japanese designers. In the 1980s, Issey Miyake, Takada Kenzo, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto made a splash in the international fashion scene.

Rubina noted it was not because of lack of talent and creativity on the part of Korean designers, but because of a general lack of support. ``The Japanese designers became famous throughout the world because of support from the government and corporations. I wish that could be the case here. I hope Korean designers will eventually have the same kind of support,'' she said.

Aside from financial support, Rubina hoped the government would schedule Seoul Fashion Week a few weeks earlier to attract more international buyers. ``Aside from the fashion collections, there should be an exhibition much bigger than the one right now. It should also include materials, fabrics, textiles and accessories where buyers can look around and do some actual buying, so we can have visible results,'' she said.

Rubina is also one of the founding members and the previous chairman of the Seoul Fashion Artists Association (SFAA). The SFAA, a select group of 12 designers established 20 years ago, started Seoul Collection which was the precursor to Seoul Fashion Week.

Unlike before when there were not many fashion events in Korea, there are now several ― Seoul Fashion Week, Pret-a-Porter Busan and the Daegu Fashion Fair.

Rubina noted there should only be one representative fashion event in Korea. ``If Seoul is concentrating on fashion, then Busan should concentrate on films and Daegu with textiles. There are so many fashion events and a lot of money being invested in those cities now, but no clear results. It just becomes festivities. I think there should be just one single fashion week where the best of the best gather,'' she said.

Looking at Rubina, it's not hard to see that she was once a fashion model, with her statuesque figure and fine bone structure.

``I was a fashion model in Korea for 13 years. After years of modeling, I discovered I had a talent for designing clothing. Fashion models have an age limit ― if you reach a certain age, you can't model anymore. But designing, if you can do it, you can do it as long as you want if you're healthy. So when I found out I had this talent, I decided to become a designer,'' she said.

A designer for 30 years, Rubina has carefully cultivated her brand of utterly feminine, luxury clothing for women. ``I design for very urban, cosmopolitan woman, someone very modern and feminine,'' she said.

This was very much evident in her recently unveiled fall/winter collection, which revolved around the theme ``transtriangle.'' The runway was filled with beautifully cut coats, dresses and pants in gray, black, brown with a splash of pinkish red.

Backed by her decades of experience in the fashion industry, Rubina offered some advice for young designers. ``Designing is a very difficult job. The more effort you put in, the better results you gain... There's always something new, so I always experiment and brainstorm every day of the year. Designing is not just drawing. You also need a sense of art, knowledge about the world economy, a broad perspective and a lot of experience. But most of all, always do the best you can do,'' she said.

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