South Korean designer Park Seung Gun is pushing gender boundaries with his quirky label, writes Annie Gotterson
Park Seung Gun of ready-to-wear label pushBUTTON doesn't want to draw a line between men's and women's fashion.
"In my collection all pieces can be worn by a woman or a man," the South Korean designer says of his autumn-winter 2012 instalment. "I don't see it as two separate lines."
Considering the collection includes gold skirts and several high-cut leotards, it's a bold and provocative suggestion. But Park says it's right on trend: "This is the next big trend in men's fashion."
"Men today are more free to create their own fashion. There are clothes that are boyfriend-fit for women, so I wanted to design a twist on that with men's clothes that are slim-fitting and cute, a girlfriend-fit for men."
But that doesn't mean the clothes aren't wearable. A few pieces, such as a loose fitting, printed kimono-style jacket, a snug pink cardigan, and a pair of tight pants that finish just above the ankle are a more obvious nod to womenswear, but in general, the men's collection isn't overtly feminine.
Boxy jackets and slim-cut trousers feature throughout the collection, as do prints, all of which were designed by Park who says he loves unique fabrics. Taking inspiration from movies, music and pop culture, Park wants the collection to be young yet elegant. But it's also meant to be funny.
"The men's collection is about men who are dependent on women," he says. "They don't make money or work. They just care about beauty and fashion. It's a very funny and sexual concept. In my collections I want women to have more power and success than men."
Comprised of 10 looks, the men's collection is only Park's second stab at menswear since launching pushBUTTON in 2003. His womenswear, on the other hand, was an instant success. Describing his aesthetic as "very contemporary and fun," Park says pushBUTTON is a favourite of South Korean celebrities such as singer Lee Hyo-ri and actress Kong Hyo-jin.
Born in Seoul, Park was always drawn to fashion and cites Jean Paul Gaultier and Dolce & Gabbana as influences in his early years. After finishing high school he enrolled in a fashion design course at Shibae Fashion School in Seoul, but dropped out before completing his first year to pursue a career as a pop singer.
A year or so later he switched paths again, resurfacing as a model for a Korean shoe brand. He continued to model for four years, but was not content to stay in front of the camera. Before long, he was styling and directing many of the shoots he modelled in. From there it was an easy transition back to fashion, and the designer was soon creating garments of his own.
After the almost overnight success of pushBUTTON, Park continued to expand his brand and has since launched the Play by Pushbutton and Dressmonster labels. He has also collaborated with other companies including Cheil Industries Inc, 10 Corso Como and Puma in projects that range from shoe design to sculptural installations.
"I want to continue doing this until I'm 55 or 60, then I want to focus on more avant-garde and artistic fashion, rather than the ready-to-wear my brand is doing now."
pushBUTTON AW/2012 is available at Harvey Nichols.
Above and top right: looks from Park's pushBUTTON collection