South Korean designer Ji Hye Koo founded her contemporary accessories brand Gu_de (pronounced “good”) in 2016, and is slowly but surely racking up an impressive fanbase. Known for its minimal shapes that have a whiff of Seventies charm, the bags speak to a growing number of consumers looking for classic styles that will serve them well into the future. Koo is preparing to launch ready-to-wear next season, so fans will soon be able to wear the label head to toe. Find Gu_de at Net-a-Porter, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.
How did you first realise you wanted to work in fashion?
I loved Barbie dolls as a little girl. I used to make my own doll clothes and bags using old scarves, socks and clothes. I’ve dreamt of becoming a fashion designer since then. I majored in textile design, but realised I preferred bags and shoes, so I completed a bags and shoes design course before graduating.
What was the first roadblock you had to overcome?
There was a specific shape and certain quality that I wanted to achieve through Gu_de, so I had to have many difficult conversations with our manufacturers in order to select the right raw materials in the development stage, then make the samples and ensure the quality is maintained afterwards.
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What was your first job?
I designed various accessories such as bags, shoes, jewellery, watches and socks at So Basic, a brand that was part of a famous fashion company called NIX. I think designing various items at that time formed the foundation of my current career.
When did you first realise your brand was getting a lot of buzz?
Gu_de was very lucky. As soon as it was launched in 2016, there were requests to launch online and offline at famous boutiques in Korea. Even when the brand was not yet well known, I remembered receiving inquiries from various influencers through Instagram. But I really felt its popularity when I attended a London Fashion Week showroom in 2018 and received requests from buyers from leading department stores and boutiques that I had always wanted to launch in.
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