Please introduce yourself and your brand Adulescent.
Li: My name is Juun Li, and this is Jongyun Park. At first we just wanted to spread our idea of ‘don’t grow up’. That’s the first [idea] we wanted to spread to the masses, and we were thinking of how to spread it. In the process, we thought, ‘Okay, we can make a brand, and we can make that a part of our identity.’
How did the two of meet, and how did you decide to start this brand?
Li: We met while working for a magazine. I was doing photography and he was doing brand managing. At the time I had to go back to university and Jungyoon had some personal work, so we both had to stop working for the magazine around the same time. Actually, we are also attending the same university, and when we met we [kept talking] about this project we wanted to do. We [started planning] it from around January or February and put a lot of thought into it. Then we launched our brand on July 1st of this year.
How did you come up with the name Adulescents, and why did you choose a French name?
Park: Adulescent is because… Well, the main point is the French pronunciation. Adulescent is easily confused with the American pronunciation of adolescent, so I think the French pronunciation is better. Also, the word ‘adulescent’ is a combination of the words adult and adolescent. We also both like fashion, so that’s why we made a fashion brand. But—Our final goal is not [to have] a huge or popular fashion brand, but to spread our message. Our first message is, ‘Don’t grow up; never grow up,’ so we want to represent that through fashion. Fashion is our tool.
What does the message, ‘Don’t grow up; never grow up,’ mean to you? In what ways should we not grow up?
Li: In Korea many people don’t know what they like, because they never [experienced it] in middle school or high school because they were studying for college exams. So, when they get to college they think about what kind of job they should do. Even people who enter university can’t choose their major, because they don’t know what they like—And I was one of them. So I was really thinking that that should change; people should [be able to figure out] what they like, and there should be an environment that lets them do that.
What is the overall style of your brand? How do you think your style represents the idea of youth?
Li: When we first made our shirts we made designs that resembled traps. We try to use that kind of symbolism in our designs. Our style is not very street style, and not simple everyday wear. We are kind of in the middle; however, we [mainly] represent our identity through our interviews and photography. The style [of our brand] is just based on our personal taste.
Park: We [also] put our [brand’s] messages, like ‘don’t grow up; never grow up’ and ‘respect yourself,’ on our products.
How did you transition from photographer to designer?
Li: I think the hardest part is that I don’t have much knowledge about the process of [making clothes]. But our modern society is one that can help facilitate that problem. These days there are so many sources where we can learn and get information. I studied chemical engineering in college, but I started photography in a similar way just by researching on my own. But obviously, the more knowledge you have, the better you can be. So that’s the hardest part.
What is your plan for Adulescent? Where do you see your brand in the next couple of years?
Li: We don’t want to be just a fashion brand. More like a lifestyle brand? Park: We just want to keep spreading our message [by] making clothes and doing interviews. Next year, we can do other things like branding and making movies.
— Editor: So, your brand is more focused on your central message—It’s related to fashion, but not just about fashion.
— Li: Yes, it’s kind of like a magazine. Doing articles, interviews, meeting people, and just doing collaborations with others and not restricting our boundaries. We just want to work with people who represent our idea of Adulescent.
Do you see your brand limited to Korea or are you looking abroad?
Li: It’s first for Korea, because the problem is a lot more serious here than in other countries. But, hopefully we can expand it to [become] a worldwide brand. In other countries as well there are people who represent our idea of ‘adulescents’.
Do you see your target audience as mainly young people in their 20s and 30s?
Li: I think that, even if someone is in their 40s, [if] they are starting something that they want [to do] they could be considered an ‘adulescent’. So, I don’t think that we really have an age [restriction]. Our clothes [may] have an age [restriction], because we have things like hoodies. But, our identity fits with all ages.
What kind of clothes do you currently sell or will sell in the future?
Li: We just finished making our hoodies, and we are planning on putting out new t-shirts for spring. But, we want to focus on other projects to [further] spread our message in Korea.
Do you have a plan for what your next message will be?
Li: We are still thinking about it. But, the second message is, ‘Respect yourself,’ because when you respect yourself you can do whatever you want. When you respect yourself you have this power, and through that you have the confidence to do anything.
Okay, and just because we can—What three things would you bring to a deserted island?
Li: Hmm… My phone, a camera, and a wife.
— Editor’s note: Aww. — Thank you! You can find Adulescent on Instagram: @adulescent_seoul or on the web: www.adulescent.kr. Juun Li and Jongyun Park are also on Instagram at: @juunli and @suuubb
Interview by IFBK