Fashion is an inescapable part of life, even though one may not think too much of it. What you wear is an extension of who you are, an expression of your personality. More than just pieces you wear, it's a lifestyle. And that's the main principle behind Cho Eun Ae's creations for her line, Tibaeg. The emerging label from South Korea, which you can get your hands on in Singapore via SocietyA, was established in 2011 and continues to create a solid following through their contemporary designs punctuated by artistic illustrations and prints. We had a chat with Eun Ae, and here's what we learned about her inspirations and where she sees her brand in the future.
Fill in the blank: I am a designer, an artist, and __________.
A mother. It's hard to manage [having a career and motherhood]. It's an amazing life but I have to try. My life has changed. It's a new challenge for me.
How is Korean fashion different from fashion in other Asian countries?
Korean fashion is focused on the trendy items. It's inspired by the Korean idols and K-pop. It's very lively. The Seoul style is known to many as casual and unisex but there is also a different mood.
You had the chance to showcase your brand in the Colette pop-up K Fashion last year, shortly before Colette in Paris shut their doors. How does it feel showcasing your brand on an international level at the famed Colette?
It was a very meaningful event for me and Tibaeg. It was very nice to see my designs displayed in the window. We collaborated with them on various style, and all the pieces were sold out. There were not a lot of pieces, but they all sold out. It's amazing. Many Parisians now can discover Tibaeg and it's very encouraging. It was a bit hard for me to work when I had my baby, but the opportunity at Colette really encouraged me.
What are the three key ingredients that would make up Tibaeg’s character traits?
Green tea leaves, magnolia and azalea plant. I think that when you blend these together, they will make an interesting tea blend just like the characteristics of Tibaeg.
How is Tibaeg different from other Korean fashion labels?
There are a lot of Korean brands. The new brands are very casual and unisex, very street and punky. They're very simple and basic. But Tibaeg has always been feminine and calm and chic — created for women. We also use prints but they're not punky; they're very soft. It is not boring or old. Tibaeg has a strong identity. I consider the textile and prints selection for Tibaeg to be very important in sharing the brand's identity.
Which South Korean female celebrity would you like to see wear your designs — and why?
Suzy, Eun Jung, Jung In and Shin So Yul. They have already worn Tibaeg.
Left: Jung In; Right: Son Yeo Eun
Name five essentials in your Clozette.
First is a printed t-shirt because each one has its own identity. The print or style of the shirt can already say a lot of things about one's personality, and a t-shirt is an essential item for all. Black pants are also great for coordination. It's easier to match than jeans. You can wear it with sneakers to make it casual. A black sleeveless top is also essential. Eyebrow pencils are very important. You can use it in many ways like as an eyeliner or eyebrow pencil. Blusher is also important because it can make you look lively and more awake.
What’s coming up next for Tibaeg?
I hope to show that Tibaeg is not just a fashion item but a lifestyle. I hope that many people enjoy the whole experience of Tibaeg like the music they can listen to while shopping at our showroom and the tea we serve. I hope to show the mood, the sound and the smell of Tibaeg. We're also focusing on being environmentally conscious so we're working on a collection that uses recycled fabric.
Get more inspiration from other empowering women's stories here.
Channel your inner romantic
Lara Jean is a romantic heroine in a young adult romance novel. This characteristic of hers is what jumpstarted the whole plot. Instead of coming out with her feelings, she prefers to pour them out in heartfelt letters and then stow them away in a hatbox. Until one day, those letters got sent to her crushes and she's forced to confront each of them. Yikes! But beyond kickstarting the story, Lara Jean's proclivity to romance also influences her style. She's fond of laces, florals, quirky details like polka dots and vintage or vintage-inspired pieces.
You may have heard that a movie based on the best-selling book by Jenny Han is about to launch this weekend. But before we finally see Lara Jean come to life (courtesy of actress Lana Condor), it's fun to envision her fashion choices as described in the book trilogy. Here are some tips on how you can steal her style.
Pair sleeved tops with high-waisted skirts
Chloé ribbed cashmere sweater, USD1,450; Alaïa laser-cut knitted mini skirt, USD2,410; Puma Suede Women’s Bow Sneakers, USD80; Chopard Happy Hearts 18-karat rose gold, diamond and mother-of-pearl earrings, USD3,220
In some chapters, you can spot descriptions of what Lara Jean wears and you can get a sense that her go-to style is pairing sleeved tops with mini skirts. And in the cover for the second book, you can see her wearing a dreamy variant of her favourite ensemble. She's all about pastels and quirky details so take note to pick items with bows and eyelets.
Rock overalls or dungarees
FRAME palazzo stretch-denim overalls, USD295; Balenciaga cotton-chambray shirt, USD895; SEE BY CHLOÉ Leather-trimmed suede ankle boots, USD445; Pandora Delicious Popcorn Charm, SGD89/~USD64.65; Pandora Drink To Go charm, SGD69/~USD50.12
Sometimes, we also get glimpses of what Lara Jean is wearing through the commentaries of her little sister Kitty. At one point, she describes Lara's outfit as resembling a farm girl's because she loves to rock overalls or shortalls. She often wears them with floral scoop tops or long-sleeved shirts. There's also a mention of her pairing the style with her older sister's combat boots. And, of course, to spice things up she adds cute little trinkets and charms to her ensemble. At times, she'll maybe add a bow hair tie or a pastel-coloured headband.
Wear vintage or vintage-inspired pieces
Pomelo Fashion polka dot blouse, SGD39/~USD28.33; Madewell denim mini skirt, USD80; Castañer Carina; SGD290/~USD210.64; Anita Ko heart 18-karat rose gold ruby earrings, USD2,650
Lara Jean loves a good vintage bargain. She often scores unique pieces like sunsuits and we're guessing that some of her favourite polka dot-adorned clothes were also from her visits to vintage thrift stores. There was a scene where Lara thought of pairing a nice babydoll polka dot dress with tights but second guessed because it looked childish. So we're imagining that she would have gone for a polka dot top paired with a denim skirt instead. Then choose a pair of whimsically designed shoes to go with it.
Match floral dresses with sweaters
Borgo De Nor Anais printed satin maxi dress, USD925; Miu Miu embellished ribbed cashmere cardigan, USD1,355; Bata Debonair Edition Contemporary wedges single-strapped in white, SGD39.95/~USD29.02
Another one of Lara's go-to ensembles is pairing floral dresses with comfy cardigans. On the cover of the third book, you can see that she has taken a liking for midi spaghetti-strapped dresses. As she matures, so does her style but her dreamy aesthetic still stays with her.
Appreciate the little details and be resourceful
More than any character in the book series, it's Lara who appreciates the little details the most. She puts a lot of thought into her actions, including what she wears and how it will impact her throughout the day. Whether it's a cute pin or an adorable charm from her sisters, she finds a way to incorporate it into her outfit. The trinkets and little details she mixes in her ensemble are the ones that ultimately completes her look and showcases her personality. And she's also very resourceful in picking up unique pieces in thrift stores. So take it from Lara Jean and expand your shopping horizons.
Next, check out how you can steal Cher Horowitz's style in Clueless.