Bumsuk Choi: Factory Worker Turned Acclaimed Designer

From The New York Times:

When he first showed his designs in New York eight years ago, Bumsuk Choi and his label, General Idea, were already well known in his native Seoul, South Korea, admired by many and frequently worn by actors and K-pop stars.

New York was a stark change.

“I didn’t know anyone,” Mr. Choi said. “At my first show, there weren’t a lot of people. It made me sad.”

The tepid reception didn’t stop Mr. Choi from returning again and again, slowly building up an audience over time. This season at New York Fashion Week: Men’s, his packed show had attendees crowding into the standing sections, and guests like Milandou Badila, a.k.a. Young Paris, a musician who recently signed with Jay Z, and Jack Griffo, a Nickelodeon star, sitting in the front row.

Mr. Choi, 39, is no stranger to setbacks. Growing up the son of a street vendor (his mom sold rice cakes, his dad “never worked,” he said), he had little exposure to fashion besides his own personal interest in clothes. At 16, he dropped out of high school — a big no-no in South Korea — and went to work at a clothes factory. “Everyone was saying, ‘You’re not going in the right direction,’” he said.

Mr. Choi kept at it, picking up pattern-making and sewing skills at the factory and learning about design while selling fabrics at a wholesale market in Seoul. Eventually, he tried constructing a piece of his own.

Read more at The New York Times.

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