Calling a designer’s clothes wearable can sound like a backhanded compliment, particularly in London’s flamboyant fashion world where the Mad Hatter aesthetic is regularly trotted down the catwalk. The sane, but extremely interesting, designs of Rejina Pyo sane probably deserve a more exciting description. The no-brand micro producers behind Korean street fashion’s rise “Oh, don’t worry – I like that word,” says Pyo when we meet her in London. “My aim has always been to offer something that is timeless, relevant and comfortable, that has a great shape and lasts for years. I would like to grow all this slowly; I don’t want to be the hottest brand this season and then disappear.” If that is the case, then things haven’t gone entirely to plan. Seemingly overnight, Regina Pyo went from one of those niche, under-the-radar labels that only the British fashion crowd have heard of to a regular fixture in international magazines and being sold through Net-a-Porter, Lane Crawford and Selfridges. Born and raised in South Korea, Pyo knew she wanted to be a fashion designer from her school days. After finishing school she moved from Seoul to London to study at Central Saint Martins under the inimitable Louise Wilson, who launched a thousand design careers before her death in 2014. Pyo’s graduate show was widely praised by critics and she was quickly snapped up to be Serbian fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic’s first assistant. She worked with her for three years before setting up her namesake label in 2014. “I loved Europe from the moment I arrived,” Pyo says. “The history and freedom … And now I have made it home. London has so many different styles that it is hard to be defined in one way here – it has new-gen designers, wacky over-the-top designers, pared-back ones, and you get to be anything you want.” Pyo’s popularity with influencers such as Camille Charriere, Pandora Sykes and Leandra Medine quickly cemented her fame ahead of her first catwalk show in 2018 at London Fashion Week. It proved a major critical hit. Since then her oversized dresses, voluminous blouses and quirky heels have become some of the most talked about items in the industry. Pyo lives in London’s trendy Queen’s Park area with her husband Jordan Bourke, an Irish chef and author, and their baby son. The photogenic couple have been welcomed into London’s “it crowd”, even finding the time to jointly publish a book on Korean cooking while tending to their increasingly dazzling careers and growing family. “I have a lot here in London now, so I won’t move back to Korea, although I see coming from there as a huge privilege,” Pyo says. “The Asian market is very big, and I understand the culture differences between there and here – for example you can wear jeans to a wedding in Korea, but never in London. I don’t want my brand to be limited just to Europe simply because I live here.” From the beginning there has been a thoughtfulness to Pyo’s designs that appeals to women around the globe. That thoughtfulness extends into other areas; aware of the huge negative effect the fashion industry has on the planet, she adopts an environmentally conscious approach to production. “The environment and the way we treat it is something that really bothers me deep inside,” she says. “I am part of the most environmentally harming industry, and that upsets me a lot, so I am trying to do everything I can to lower our carbon footprint. I’m trying to use the least polluting materials and eliminate rayon and any single-use plastic. We’re going to publish our strategy and ensure every manufacturer we work with has a similar outlook.” Model with Down’s syndrome shifts the fashion spotlight This environmental approach has been central to her upcoming autumn-winter collection, which is showing at London Fashion Week today. Her inspiration was durable garments, from the snow suits that are used on Mount Everest to clothing that is given to refugees by the Red Cross. “The idea that you have to buy something new each season because of a trend makes me feel tired,” she says. “I was born in the ’80s, so not that long after the [Korean] War, and there was no wastefulness then – I remember my mother sewing patches on everything I wore. But nowadays we produce clothes so cheaply that supply overrules demand. I want us to get back to the spirit of seeing clothing as an investment that you give to your daughter.” As if she couldn’t get any more zeitgeist, Pyo is also a champion of diversity. In one of her casting calls, she asked for “confident, unique and inspiring women of ALL ethnicities and ALL ages”. So it is no surprise to hear she has been closely following Korea’s burgeoning feminist movement and its online campaign, #escapethecorset, which refers to the impossibly high physical standards places on women there. “I’m really proud of them,” Pyo says. “Korea has been a very macho, conservative society for a long time – it was quite backwards, with men in charge and this huge pressure on women to look like a celebrity. For what? We aren’t just creatures for men to comment on. We should get to decide how we want to look.” View this post on Instagram Thanks again for the nomination for British Emerging Talent in Womenswear @britishfashioncouncil Thank you my amazing team #fashionawards @rejinapyo_jina wearing #rejinapyo resort19 #RejinaPyoPeytonJacket #RejinaPyoEddieTrousers #RejinaPyoOliviaBag #RejinaPyoConieHeel A post shared by R E J I N A P Y O (@rejinapyo) on Dec 12, 2018 at 1:08am PST <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> As someone who is a fierce proponent of gender equality, Pyo has recently had to confront the fact that the relentless nature of the fashion calendar can also be at odds with having a baby. “It is an amazing thing to give birth, but I had no idea how powerful the hormones would be,” she says. “I also didn’t get maternity leave properly and so I felt this incredible guilt whenever I was away from my son. It is horrible, and I think we need to acknowledge how brave women are in these situations.” View this post on Instagram Thank you so much to @tankmagazine @carolineissa for featuring me in their fall issue with Luka #Photographer @ulrikerindermann #Stylist @grace____alexander wearing the #RejinaPyoKerryBlouse and the #RPxAKTeteaTeteEarring in collaboration with @anissakermiche A post shared by R E J I N A P Y O (@rejinapyo) on Oct 18, 2018 at 7:29am PDT <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> This inclusive, empathetic outlook on life has infiltrated her clothing, which, as well as being sustainable, now includes a unisex line. This collection should appeal to a wide range of fashion lovers: from customers who don’t want to be defined by gender stereotypes to people of both sexes who hanker for a well-cut jumper or a shirt with a bit of pizazz.