Taking cues from tents and other temporary shelters, South Korean designer Sun Woo Chang has invented a fashion line that allows wearers to take the feeling of “home” wherever they go. Entitled “In Between,” the collection features 13 pieces, most with fabric-covered rings abstractly orbiting different body parts. Best of all, these elements can all be collapsed for easy storage.
The built-in discs suspend around the outfits’ bold-hued and simple silhouettes. A pair of bright red trousers has a stack of halos circling the legs. A single giant hoop angles over the shoulder of a sky-blue shirt. A violet and lilac dress incorporates a corkscrew band that extends to the floor. There’s even a smoky hat that shields the body instead of the head.
The collection’s surreal looks appeal to the Seoul-born designer because of her life-long struggle with social connection. She explains that “When I was in London, I saw homeless people sleeping in their pop-up tents and carrying them as portable homes. I thought that was the lifestyle I had dreamed of, as I somehow felt that I never really belonged to a certain group since childhood. Based on these ideas, I started to create garments as portable homes, like ‘refuge-wear’ from my reality.”
Mimicking tent construction, the clothing rings are made by stretching cloth over poles. The unique shapes are held in place with steel wire encased by PVC tubes. Those tubes are then pushed through stitched fabric tunnels.
All throughout the journey, Chang uses a combination of careful placement and fluid movement, as opposed to rigid, pre-fabricated patterns. The garments come with specialized stowing bags that preserve the shapes.
“I normally just drape onto the body and build up the shape with pattern paper or cardboard. This makes it much more interesting and can create unexpected outcomes, especially once the wire is inserted,” she says in an interview with Dezeen. “I would say it’s more like an engineering method, putting the pieces together, rather than just pattern cutting.”
There are a few looks in the collection that embrace the billowy image of a canvas tent rather than the pop-up variety. In these designs, the material is draped and gathered around the body with zippers and elastic pulls.
Chang first articulated her “portable home” concept in 2018 with a collection produced as part of her BA graduate project at Central Saint Martins in London. Labeled “Portable Refuge Wear,” it featured similar lines and collapsible loops, but in muted tans and blue plaids. The revamped anthology, along with all its vibrant, solid colors, is available for purchase through online retailer APOC, a company that specializes in drawing attention to a “new generation of creatives.” According to the company website, APOC is “devoted to curating and sourcing progressive and consciously-created pieces from artists and fashion designers across the globe.” The firm allows artists to get a foot into the retail industry while remaining authentic and avoiding the commercial hurdles required in more conventional enterprises.
Chang fits the bill for an APOC fashion engineer, producing “artwear” that’s practical but also “experienced and consumed as a work of art.” The APOC platform has helped other emerging makers go viral this year, including Harikrishnan with his inflatable trousers and Ying Ching’s paper furniture assemblage.