Monday, December 15, 2014

University of the Fraser Valley - , Kevin Hunter, Menswear inspired by Korean K-Pop Culture

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen (unless otherwise noted)

I say it time and time again....Want to see the future of fashion? Start attending the fashion grad shows at the one of the many great local design schools we are fortunate to have here in Vancouver. It can be a real eye-opener. This is where the fresh ideas will be coming from - this is the future of the fashion industry.

Nowhere is this as evident as in the menswear collections. I love seeing menswear on the runway whether totally edgy, gender challenging, classic silhouettes with a twist or great takes on developing new trends.  

The University of the Fraser Valley's (UFV) Kevin Hunter's collection caught my eye on several levels.  I liked his use of colour and texture in particular. One look pushed it hard with an all over print, but he pulled the design back to a sleeveless shirt and top of the knee shorts to keep it from being overpowering. On the other end of the spectrum was the all black look where a textural element was brought in with the incorporation of an interesting print pant.

For me, the elements of colour, texture and silhouette were perfectly balanced in the third look. Here a simple,short sleeve tee in a bright colour popped discreetly out from behind a striped black/white vest adding a subtle textural element. Then the look was completed by solid colour pants in a softer fabric with large side pockets and drop crotch to add a twist.  Normally I don't like drop crotch, but it worked well here.

It really was no surprise at the end of the show when Kevin Hunter was awarded the Most Marketable Collection.  I think the individual separates offered have enough breadth to create some really interesting looks paired with closet staples found in most men's closets. The collection overall also offered a great stepping stone for men wanting to break out of that predictable West Coast mold.  
Want to know more?  Enjoy this Q and A.

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Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Langley, B.C., and lived in Aldergrove until I was 3. Then we moved to Abbotsford and we have been living in the same house ever since. 

What were you like when you were young?

I asked my parents this question because I figured they would be able to tell you better than I. The first thing that comes to my mom’s mind is that I was very particular about my clothes and what I wore. I always wanted to put together my own outfits, no matter how nonsensical they were. As a kid, I loved shoes and trying them on. Whether it was my grandpa’s giant oxfords, or my aunt’s pointed-toe pumps, if they made a clunking noise, they were the only important things in the room. Growing up I was pretty shy and reserved though, always feeling like my interests didn’t quite match up with my brothers, cousins and friends.

What were your interests in High School?

In high school I remember trying to find out what I was good at. What was my “thing” that I could pour myself into and excel at. I tried playing Bass guitar (after playing piano for several years); I even tried Break dance and Hip Hop classes. Nothing really captured and held my interest, so I put a lot of my efforts into academics, and found a real interest in my Law 12 class. This then led me to pursuing an academic career in Criminology at the University of the Fraser Valley. That lasted almost 2 years, but I found the classes about Criminal behavior and Criminal law to be very... disturbing. It was very dark subject matter and I just couldn't enjoy it like I used to.

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion? A personal story would be great here.

To be honest, I never saw myself ending up in fashion. I had thought about it very briefly in high school once. I wanted to take a sewing class, but it wasn’t priority over my academic courses, not to mention the whole stigma towards guys in sewing classes was not something I wanted to be a target of.
Why did you choose to study at the University of the Fraser Valley?

I was originally studying Criminology, so since I made connections with the fashion faculty by taking the fashion electives, it was a natural move to progress in my fashion education at UFV. I had also seen the Absolute Style fashion show back in 2011 and was in awe of the creations that were sent down the runway. Up until this point it was only a dream that I would one day be showcasing a collection and specialty market garments such as a bustier, swim suit, coat, and jacket.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you, what was easy for you, are there any high, low or funny moments you can share?

I had never touched a sewing machine before starting the fashion program in 2012. I was so grateful to the program faculty for accepting me into the program and willing to teach me from scratch. The first year was rough, many long days and late nights working on projects, all the while working a part time job to pay for my schooling and supplies. There was a point when I almost wanted to drop out. I felt overwhelmed and that this possibly wasn't the area of study for me. I would compare my projects to the other students and that, I found, was the most destructive way to think. Fashion can be a form of art; everyone has a unique perspective. Therefore you should only judge your work standing alone, and not in comparison to someone else’s. 

We all truly did beautiful work, all unique in our own way. The second year was even more intense than the first. Many 14-16 hour days at the school, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at the cafeteria and Tim Hortons, ordering sushi or pizza to be delivered to us at the school the nights we all stayed late. I would have to leave the school to work my evening shift selling clothes, and then would head back to the school for a few hours before the security guards would kick the other students and I out for the night. Becoming a family with the other students was a highlight of the program for me.

The most amazing part of the program was the year-end fashion show. The sense of accomplishment and joy in seeing my creations walk the runway was indescribable.











What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?

The inspiration behind my grad collection was primarily Korean pop culture. In recent years Korean pop (K-pop) groups and singers have become popular worldwide. I was drawn to how their styles and performances are so eccentric and transformative. I wanted to fuse North American lifestyle clothing with surges of K-pop inspired pieces throughout the collection.

Describe your collection – customer, day-evening-sportswear-separates-casual-highend glamour-stage costuming-punk?

My “It” guy is someone who is nonconformist. He looks for a balance in comfort and unconventional style. The collection is spring/summer casual street wear that fuses tonal blacks with lively colours, and showcases bold prints.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

The palette for the collection includes the colours cobalt, teal, and acid yellow, with tonal blacks making the occasional appearance, and a couple statement prints: the geographic multicoloured print, the zigzag knit, and the graffiti pinstripe. The fabrics include high quality cotton sateen, canvas, french terry, bamboo knit, stretch poplin and ponte de roma.

Do you have a favourite look?

It is so difficult to choose a favorite of the three looks I sent down the runway. The first look, the cowl neck slim fit tee with the pullover vest and drop crotch harem pants are the perfect casual comfort yet stylish look. I can see the pants being a very popular item that reaches beyond my target market. The second look, which has a mix of the graffiti pinstripe canvas pants with the ponte de roma jacket, is such a statement. The fabrics of both the pants and the jacket were the soul inspiration for this look. For the last look, I wanted to create a look that married the previous two, all the while making a statement of its own. That’s why this look is suiting, presented in the most unconventional form. The bold print and unexpected silhouette make this look my feature look for the collection.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

I would like to think I could refresh what North American menswear is. While honouring tradition, introduce new and exciting elements to create a more diverse range of clothing for men.

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for a while, launch your own line, take a break and travel?
I’m not exactly sure where I want to go from here. Currently I am a product manager in a clothing retail store, merchandising. I would like to work my way up the corporate ladder and eventually be a part of the product development and pattern development team. Before that, I may take some time to live and work abroad and experience different cultures. I’m excited for what 2015 and the years to come have in store.

Images by Photo-Schuetz


Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you?

“You can be comfortable without ever compromising glamour.” ~ Donatella Versace. I love Versace and her words are wise. The reason I work clothing retail, the reason I want to design, is so that when someone tries on one of my garments and looks at himself or herself in the mirror, they will smile. They will feel comfortable and attractive, if I can help even a few people to feel that way, then it is all worth it.

To reach Kevin Hunter please email the designer at kevin.hunter@live.ca.

For more information on the Fashion Design program at UFV go to - http://www.ufv.ca/fashion/

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