Marc Jun is wearing an azure blue shirt that features a front panel and matching cuffs in black with green piping. Then he whips off the panel and cuffs – and ta-da, a classic business shirt!
The 31-year-old designer who is a rising favourite in New Zealand is not into gimmicks. His unisex label invis-Able implies both mystery and practicality, and his new season collection, to be presented at Fashion Exposed Now, certainly delivers – versatile, inventive clothes full of surprises.
Hidden pockets and zips, detachable sleeves, sweaters disguised as jackets – rarely has fashion been so much fun. It comes with a deeply-felt personal philosophy.
“I asked myself: What makes me happy?” says Marc. “I’ve found that many material things and relationships may be satisfying at first, but quickly wear away. Instant gratification as a recipe for happiness is fake and unrealistic.
“My work is inspired by the invisible things in life such as one’s thoughts, feelings and experiences – the things that define who we are. I express this through the unexpected features and hidden details in my garments. It’s like a playful game of hide and seek. Invis-Able makes you happy!”
Born and raised in Seoul, Marc Wonseok Jun was 17 when he moved to New Zealand for tertiary studies that began with a diploma in business studies and became properly focused when he did a BA in fashion design at Otago Polytechnic.
“I started looking for work as soon as I graduated, but was still searching after three months, so I joined a digital print studio. I worked there for two years and then launched my label.”
An unexpected meeting at the 2011 iD Dunedin Fashion Week brought big dividends. Among the hot young international designers featured on the runway was London-based fellow South Korean Byungmun Seo and two hit it off.
“Byungmun invited me to assist him at fashion trade shows in Paris and Milan during the summer of 2012 and it was a really important experience,” says Marc. “He’s become a big name since then.”
The boyish-looking charmer behind invis-Able is showing every sign of following suit. His clothes have won a strong following among the young and surprisingly, not-so-young – “it amazes me how many women in their 40s and 50s buy them” – and their reputation for superior fabrics and craftsmanship is well deserved.
“I oversee production of my ranges in Seoul to ensure quality,” says Marc. “I’d love to have them manufactured in New Zealand, but because of all the detailing, it would be prohibitively expensive.”
Top attractions in the designer’s latest collection which he’ll also be showing at a major Shanghai fair in March, include his super cool bomber jackets – a sensuous version is in velvet – and reversible trenchcoats. Apart from a plaid used for pants, tops and coats, it’s all solids in a mostly dark palette, though pale grey and tan are also used, and shirts in white or blue provide fresh, crisp contrast.
“Growing up in Seoul influenced my use of colours – I tend to wear them in a safe way – so I usually limit my use of brights to fine details,” says Marc Jun.
“There are exceptions, like one of my black trenchcoats which has a yellow contrast. That’s bold for me.”
– Zelda Cawthorne