April 05 2018
Tom Greyhound had an interview with the designer of Reike Nen to share her thoughts and vision about the brand.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hello! I’m Rei Yoon Hongmi, director of Reike Nen based in Seoul.
Why did you choose the women's shoes as a main item to design?
Actually, I studied women’s clothing when I was in college. But the more I studied about the clothing, I felt I was more attracted to the smaller goods and accessories. I decided to design shoes when I was struck by the Helmut Lang 2005 S/S shoes collection, it was really a new kind of shock to me. Since the universities in Korea didn’t offer the major course of shoes design, I learned it myself to build my portfolio. Well luckily, I got a chance to become a shoe designer.
What aspect of Reike Nen is different from other women’s shoe brands in Korea?
Reike Nen was launched in 2010. At that time, dressy shoes were very popular in Korea. Reike Nen got a lot of attention from the start because we were the first to make shoes in contemporary style and it was quite a new approach and fresh style in those days.
Every season, we spend a lot of time deciding concepts. To express the concepts, we do a lot of work apart from shoes designing. We draw pictures, make films, and hold exhibitions on & off line for a period of time. We want to focus on telling a story about how and why we make these kind of shoes.
“What and how to present” is the part that we consider the most rather than “what to sell”. I think this is the most different aspect of our brand from other shoe brands in Korea.
Do traditional elements of Korea affect Reike Nen’s design?
Well, I’ve never consciously picked the traditional concepts of Korea, but I have to admit that I might’ve gotten influenced by them since I grew up and studied in Korea.
I think the classical elegance and the beauty of curves are the main features of Korean traditional beauty. I’m especially interested in beautiful potteries, ornaments of traditional furniture, paper craftworks. These things always fascinate me.
Every season, the concepts of Reike Nen are really unique, where does this inspiration usually come from? Please tell us briefly about the process - from idea to production.
When I worked as a fashion consultant in the company’s R&D team, I used to work on projects about how to link various topics in different fields of society to the fashion industry. As a designer, I think that kind of process was really interesting. Still, I try to collect interesting articles, films, music and arrange on a monthly basis.
Before we start working on a new season, we have a concept meeting. Each one freely talks about the most impressive and interesting subject at the moment. Then we gradually reify a concept, visualize, and finally start designing. The concept for a new season through this kind of process, influence all our works on photographs, films, and drawings. In this way, we’re able to depict what we’re trying to say much clearly.
Do you tend to change concepts and tones of design by seasons or prefer to maintain one concept consistently?
We try to create new concepts every season. But the balance between lines and curves, the combination of simplicity and craft design, these kinds of things are what I want to keep consistently.
Reike Nen is located at Seongsu area in Seoul, many contemporary brands also settled down this area over recent years, What is the charm of this area?
Many shoe factories and leather merchants have been situated around Seongsu area since 1970. That’s why we can get any materials whenever we need them. Also we can try making shoes in whatever design we have in mind. These are pretty amazing advantages of staying in this area. Seongsu is an old town yet definitely, filled with young and vibrant atmosphere. I think we’re going to stay here as long as possible.
Was our shop, Tom Greyhound the first launch of Reike Nen in European store? Please describe how Reike Nen and TGH were connected at first.
Luckily, we met awesome stores at the first year when we officially entered the global market, and Tom Greyhound is one of them. When I first got an e-mail from Tom Greyhound, I was so thrilled. It was even more impressive because my last job as a fashion consultant was at the same company as Tom Greyhound.
And what is your next step in international markets?
It’s only been less than 1 year since we started going abroad, I think of it as a starting point. We’ve been steadily building and working on our brand for the last 8 years, I believe we can present our shoes to more and more people around the world if we continue to work as usual.
Which clothing brand do you think is the best match for Reike Nen recently?
We love Jacquemus, Jil Sander, Maison Kimhekim, Beaufille, Rejina Pyo, Celine, the collections infused with elegance and a little bit of variation.
As a director of the brand, what do you think is the most needed thing to keep running and developing the brand?
I think brand must have a distinctive story. We will keep telling our story in a clear and consistent way. And of course, nice team work is the most important thing! To make proper decisions at every moment takes a lot of effort. I don’t think that I can do it all by myself without my crew. I’m always grateful that I’m working with awesome people around me!