Cult Store: the Seoul tailor reviving Korean suitmaking

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While you go to see Kim Dae-chul a few go well with, you don’t inform him what you need. He tells you what you want.

At Atelier Lerici, the tailoring home he based in 2005 and now runs from a secluded villa on the aspect of Seoul’s Namsan Mountain, Kim suits his shoppers out in handmade fits that he hopes will redefine the waning custom of Korean bespoke tailoring. Slightly than adopting a British or Italian style, Kim’s tailoring observe has his personal model, and focuses on attaining “excellent concord between the go well with and the human physique”. Impressed by the light traces of Korean ceramics, he desires every of Lerici’s fits – created for each women and men – to be subtly distinctive “like a line drawn with out a ruler”. 

Coats and jackets in progress in the workshop
Coats and jackets in progress within the workshop © Taemin Ha
Master tailor Lee Min Yeob at work on a coat
Grasp tailor Lee Min Yeob at work on a coat © Taemin Ha

Contained in the sparsely adorned home, every little thing from the entrance door to the mannequins displaying his tailoring and the wood boardroom desk set on a two-tonne block of granite was designed by Kim. “The objective in my life is to attain magnificence in every little thing I make,” he says.

Every jacket or coat can take as much as 110 hours for one of many atelier’s eight tailors to produce. After consulting with Kim, prospects have three fittings – one after two months, one other after three, and a remaining one after 4, earlier than the consumer receives their go well with. “The ambition is to precise the subconsciousness of the shopper,” says Kim of his aesthetic. “It should emerge with out a hint of deliberate manufacturing or effort”. If on the finish of the method the shopper doesn’t need the go well with, they get a refund. Kim says that of 300 prospects, just one has ever turned a garment down. 

A suit in progress at the atelier
A go well with in progress on the atelier © Taemin Ha
A wool coat in progress 
A wool coat in progress  © Taemin Ha

The 2000s noticed a increase within the nation’s luxurious sector because it got here roaring again from the monetary disaster in Asia within the late Nineties however, says Kim, only a few luxurious merchandise have been rooted in Korean tradition and the nation’s tailors have largely been pushed out of the bespoke enterprise by an inflow of international manufacturers. A former marketeer for the subversive Korean journal Deep Properly (which was banned by the nation’s former dictatorship through the Eighties), Kim hopes the store will assist restore traditions of Korean craftsmanship to the worldwide stage. 

Suits in progress in the workshop; customers are refunded if they don’t want their suit when it is completed
Fits in progress within the workshop; prospects are refunded in the event that they don’t need their go well with when it’s accomplished © Taemin Ha

Right now, Kim’s shoppers are getting youthful, with an rising variety of shoppers of their 20s and 30s, regardless of costs which are greater than double these of most bespoke Korean fits – from Won5mn (about £3,150). Not like their previous cash counterparts, says Kim, these Koreans are extra wedded to expression than to custom. Previous cash “doesn’t like to listen to from me what may go well with them”, Kim concludes. They’ve their very own concepts and calls for. However his imaginative and prescient is evident.

Christian Davies is the FT’s Seoul bureau chief

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