Today, we live in an overabundance of goods in our consumer society. This is especially true in the fashion industry. Fast fashion brands churn out clothes made with cheap materials and persuade quick responses to their products in order to maintain rapid rates of consumption, providing immediate satisfaction at a low cost. However, with only 1% of these clothes being recyclable, the poor quality and low sustainability of fast fashion leads to massive ethical and environmental issues.
Consumption of Heritage challenges this status quo and questions the values of consumers and producers. What are we wearing? What clothes do we make? How and why are we making them? As a Korean fashion designer, Lee Sun tackles these questions through her own heritage.
Since the 1960’s, industrialization and globalization of the Korean fashion industry drove traditional textiles and craft out of its regional place. Due to the diminishing number of local artisans, the few master craftsmen became highly regarded artists. Craft became a fine art, instead of being a part of everyday life. She is interested in bringing back this culture of craft to our consumer society and making it relevant in our modern lifestyle.
The clothes in this collection are made mainly from traditional Korean Hansan mosi fabric and hanji paper. They are designed for specific situations and purposes based on the relationship between the wearer and clothing, consumption and disposability. They also propose alternative methods of production through an analysis of the respective characteristics and qualities of mosi and hanji.
Derived from plants, both mosi and hanji represent the philosophy of ephemerality—life and death. Like a tree with roots deeply anchored in the soil that bring delicate leaves and beautiful flowers above the ground, mosi and hanji also embody consciousness and harmony. This natural balance is realized in the clothing through a layering process, in which the combinations of and interactions between the two materials create a higher level of appreciation for quality, adaptability, and context. It is a dialogue between two principles of Korean craft, and the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, revealing a latent dimensionality in the clothing’s form and function.
Consumption of Heritage is an invitation to reflect on the current state of fashion and to imagine solutions for sustainable craft. By taking inspiration from Korean heritage, she proposes a new paradigm in production and consumption. Just as mosi and hanji represent the cycle of ephemerality, fashion is a material cycle of use and reuse that passes on tradition to a new generation.
Lacquerware inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
2021, United Fashion Festival
MAD, Brussels, Belgium
2020, La Manufacture, A Labour of Love
World Design Capital, Lille, France
2020, Sustainable Innovations
Munich Fabric Start 2020, Munich, Germany
2019, Design Academy Eindhoven Graduation Show
Dutch Design Week 2019, De Campina, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Concept, Design: Sun Lee
Text: June Yoon
Photo: Ronald Smits, Shen Yichen
Film: Sang Hyeon Lee, Shen Yichen