Subin Hahn is a New York based Gender Fluid Wear designer. Taken from traditionally feminine elements, his designs challenge traditional mens and unisex fashion aesthetics, aiming to provide equality in current fashion industry, while embracing his or her own ambiguity and fluidity.
Based on his belief that art is a spiritual activity that conveys one’s faith and belief, he aims to help the wearers bring out their own spirits through his designs, and to provide hope of a better future, by creating an illusion of a world that he wishes to belong with.
Graduated at Parsons School Design in 2018 and with an academic award nomination in ‘social innovation’ won Hugo Boss x Parsons Award in 2017.
THE INTERVIEW with Subin Hahn, Gender Fluid Wear Designer
TPM: When did you first realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
Subin Hahn: I always had interest in dress making and drawing clothes as growing up watching Disney princess. One of my wishes was to have my own yellow dress because Belle’s my favorite princess, so I used to make doll dresses when I was a kid. I didn’t really think fashion design could be a job until my 5th or 6th grade, and my fine art teacher advised that I’ll be doing great in art and design majors, and that’s sort of when I realize I want to be a fashion designer.
TPM: When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?
Subin Hahn: My first design internship was with Zac Posen team in 2016. I worked with them for almost an year and it was great to see the whole design process from research, to sketch and to produce actual samples from the industry. Especially this team worked with both domestic and overseses factories to develop samples, so I was able to learn how to communicate with them, which helped me a lot for my senior thesis production at Parsons.
TPM: What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?
Subin Hahn: I was interning for the summer at Vaquera, after I graduated. It was only for a short term to help out their Spring 2019 season, and it was really good experience to actually make runway samples, since they produce most of samples in house. After then I had an interview opportunity from Marc Jacobs shoes design team, for a design assistant position. Besides my main clothing line, I developed shoe collection as part of an external sponsorship opportunity at Parsons, so I was able to experience sample production with Italian factories where they produce most of luxury brand shoes. I think this helped me to land the position and I feel grateful to be part of the team.
TPM: Define genderless nowadays in five words .
Subin Hahn: Ambiguity, Fluidity, Liberation, Diversity, and Inclusion.
TPM: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
Subin Hahn: I didn’t really have a chance to learn professionally about marketing and business side of fashion, which is very important for young designers to develop their own career/brand in the industry, so I would probably tell myself to explore both design and business of fashion.
TPM: What is one thing you look at the models for your campaigns?
Subin Hahn: I look for the models who have ambiguous and sort of mysterious look that creates fluidity of gender expression. Especially when the brand puts male femininity in the forefront, I tend to look for guys who can bring out this inbetween/androgynous image.
TPM: What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Subin Hahn: It makes very fast and easy access to anyone who uses social media. People can see thousands of fashion images in social media and get information of so many different things. For fashion industry and especially young designers, social media allows more exposures and visibility that can help them grow.
TPM: How do you think you can provide equality in current fashion industry through your designs?
Subin Hahn: Menswear fashion didn’t really have much diverse representations as womenswear in the fashion history. If there weren’t designers who tried adopting menswear into womenswear in mainstream fashion, women would still not have freedom to wear any pants, suits, shirts or any elements taken from men’s fashion. Compared to this, there was little to no designers who did try adopting women’s elements into menswear in the fashion history, and men wearing women’s wear only existed as subcultural level, and never made into mainstream. Since there wasn’t much representation of male femininity, which was considered as something week most of the time, I think it’s time to put this in the forefront of fashion industry to provide more equality.
TPM: What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry?
Subin Hahn: It’s so thrilling to see people wearing my designs that I spent hours to make, especially when I see one design in many different people and how different they look as individuals. My last favorite part is current system of seasons in the industry. I think the cycle is so fast and it puts designers in pressure to create so many new designs in such short amount of time that it make them exhausted. Also the fact that people who works in the manufacturing factories have little to no recognitions in the industry, even though they are the ones who actually make the clothes for designers, is somewhat upsetting to me.
TPM: How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?
Subin Hahn: I want people to be free from all perceptions, appreciate feminine beauty and really embrace diverse gender expressions in my clothing.
TPM: There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season. What do you think a graduate student should have to just starting out and hoping to make it in the industry?
Subin Hahn: Having strong purpose of their designs,
TPM: Can you tell us how you make the difference as a brand in fashion industry?
Subin Hahn: My brand is Gender Fluid Wear. It is different from what people have seen from unisex wear in the industry, which is mostly just variations of mens and sportswear aesthetics. My designs heavily rely on traditional femininine elements, and mainly designed for guys who doesn’t want to fit into traditional mens suit, shirts and pants, so they could have equal opportunity to express much wider gender expressions, just as women in the fashion industry. Ultimately I wish there’s no more gender signifiers in clothing so everyone could equally wear that best represent themselves. Now as a starting point, accepting and embracing male femininity is what is needed in order to make changes towards diversity, inclusion and equality.
TPM: News on the way regarding your next collection? When and where this will happen?
Subin Hahn: I am currently developing Fall 2019 collection to showcase next year around February, with some research on how old Hollywood/American media portrayed male images, compared to what is represented in contemporary media. It still has similarities and signature details taken from my latest collection, but it will be a little more commercial in a way and slightly different direction in terms of colors and materials
TPM: Define us SUSTAINABLE FASHION in few words.
Subin Hahn: Sustainable fashion could be partly about environmental friendly production and material sourcing in the industry, and also could be about individual behaviour of consumption and use of clothing and accessories.
TPM: Do you believe in fashion film industry?
Subin Hahn: I love fashion films. I think it creates much more visual spectacles and emotions as they show the movement of garments, and it’s not just about imagery but it requires music in order to have richer visual experience, so it adds more variety as a form of visual art.
TPM: Would you like to submit a fashion film related to Subin Hahn’s mission, in the future, to international fashion film festivals?
Subin Hahn: I actually did submit my recent campaign film I collaborated for my Spring 2019 collection to SHOW Studio film festival. I don’t have updates yet but wish to hear some good news from it soon!
TPM: There is one important person, in your life, who pushes and motivates you to believe in yourself?
Subin Hahn: My mom. She’s very supportive of what I’m doing and motivates me to do so much more. She majored in fine arts and now teaches art in elementary school, so I was influenced a lot in many ways.
TPM: The best experience in school was… ?
Subin Hahn: To meet people from all around the world and share different ideas and showcase them. Parsons has such wide and diverse range of students so it’s always inspiring to even just seeing what other people come up with different ideas and contextualize them within their works. Also many competitions and award opportunities were very motivating for me to produce better works.
TPM: How do you think sustainable can play an important role in fashion industry?
Subin Hahn: By educating people about human impact on the environment caused by the production, the industry will have more responsibillity to reduce the impact, and influence manufactureres and customers to have ethical decisions.
TPM: Describe us Subin Hahn as a person and how your feelings influence the creativity process?
Subin Hahn: Calm, quiet and sensitive but enjoys challenges and experiments. I’m very against traditions and what’s being done in the past, and don’t want to be characterized by my ethnicity, gender and nationality whatsoever. That’s probabbly why I don’t really put any cultural references unless it’s something very personal. I’m influenced a lot by the atmosphere of different environment and lights, and it usually sets the tone of what my designs would be like.
TPM: Would you like to involve other accessories designers in your future projects?
Subin Hahn: Yes, definitely shoes. I currently work in a shoe design team as a design assistant, and shoes are really inevitable part of fashion, and has so much history behind it.
TPM: How much your experience in fashion school helps you in your career?
Subin Hahn: I think I was able to collaborate with many different people and have good connections in the industry through faculty and peers. Professional internship experiences during academic years helped me a lot in my career as well.
TPM: What are your short-term goals?
Subin Hahn: I wish to stay at my current work in New York and have more professional career experience in the industry, as well as keep designing my own collections each season with small productions to sell in the market.
TPM: What designers inspire you and why?
Subin Hahn: I’m more drawn to designers who challenge preexisting values or traditions, whether it’s personal or political issues. Having strong point of views and stories is what makes designers stand out among others.
TPM: How would describe fast fashion nowadays and how this can damage the industry right now?
Subin Hahn: Fast fashion has so much negative effects, not just for the environments, but also people who works for them but it’s also neccessary for people who are not able to afford expensive clothing.
TPM: There is anyone special who would like to meet in person?
Subin Hahn: Walt Disney, if only he was still alive. His creativity, and ability to brand and tell stories of his own imagination is so inspiring to me. I would love to just sit down talk to him for hours in person about how he came up with all of the amazing ideas, all the beautiful artworks and films, and how he managed his own business in the industry.
TPM: What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?
Subin Hahn: Online is much easier to shop and could reach more audiences nowadays, and it’s a really good platform for young, independent desigeners like me to sell collections world wide.