Up Close with FIT’s Michelle Yoon
A graduating senior and winner of the Future of Fashion Childrenswear Critic Award, you’ll want to keep this young designer’s talent on your radar.
Looking for young talent? Meet Michelle Suebin Yoon, a graduating senior of the Fashion Institute of Technology and winner of the 2018 Future of Fashion Childrenswear Critic Award. The 21-year-old Korean-American from New York sat down with Earnshaw’s to discuss her fresh perspective on the children’s market and share her post-graduation goals.
How does it feel to be a 2018 winner? It’s surreal. I knew I put a lot of effort into my garments, as did everyone else, but I never assumed my collection would be chosen. I always admired the other talented students in my class, knowing how design can be entirely subjective. I’m truly grateful to everyone around me and those who helped me become the designer I am today.
During the judging process, what was the most helpful advice you received from the childrenswear critic? My critic taught me the constantly evolving process of design. Design isn’t a stage of perfection—it’s a progression. Without self-editing, I’d never know when to stop touching and adding to my design. I’ve come to realize that there can be just as much beauty in taking away than there is in refining.
Did you always know you wanted to be a designer? I had no idea I would pursue a career in fashion. As a child, I’d use all sorts of resources to create something unexpected. What really drew me to fashion was my fascination with what people wore and observing my mom working at her tailor shop. I’d play around with hem scraps, threads, trims and anything I could get my hands on. It was a fluid transition to pursuing fashion when I entered high school. After taking a few fashion classes, I was sure a career in fashion design would provide me a lifetime of excitement, passion and creative expression.
How did you fall in love with children’s fashion specifically? I find children naturally have freedom of imagination and creativity. It’s such an expressive field and what really inspired me was knowing that children are the future, and I wanted to challenge myself with an ongoing project of finding meaning within clothes—the art of self-expression, not just fashion.
What inspires your designs? I find inspiration everywhere. My culture, experiences and other artists inspire me.
What designers do you admire? My three favorites are Gucci, Delpozo and Marni. They are all eccentric, playful and daring—yet romantic. The innovative designs and silhouettes, including the use of color and pattern, is incredible. I am always fascinated by their interpretation of inspirations.
What’s your favorite children’s brand of late? Wolf & Rita. I love its use of color, abstract prints and designs. The clothes have both personality and comfort. I also respect the brand’s support for the local community and ecological approach to producing clothing.
What’s your dream job? My dream job is being creative director of my own company.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself introducing my brand (i’MuniquE) and starting up my own business. However, if I find a childrenswear brand I love working for, I would be more than happy to pursue this route as well.
What would you like your designs to be known for? Clothing shouldn’t be worn to be thrown out; it should should be worn to be embraced as a part of who one is. My goal is to encourage creativity, individuality, positivity and freedom for the future generation.