Doyeon Yoni Yu was born and raised in South Korea before she moved to New York. She was graduated from Parsons School of Design, Fashion Design. After her graduation she had more internship collaborations with Universal Standard, ZAC Zac Posen, 3.1 Phillip Lim and more. An Interview with Doyeon Yoni Yu, the young designer who supports body positivity
Now she launched her own label C’EST D by DOYEON YONI YU, supporting body positivity and size inclusivity. She’s bringing those into her designs and unapologetically designing fashion for all types of bodies. Her creations are to truly celebrate body equality and liberate us all from this fat phobic society.
Her ultimate goal is to empower women to love their bodies and take a stand against size discrimination. Moreover, she provides choices that we’re missing in plus size market.
We are in love with her vision and we had a conversation with Doyeon Yoni Yu about her label.
An Interview with Doyeon Yoni Yu, the young designer who support body positivity
TPM: When did you first realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
I originally wanted to study International Studies and work for UNICEF. So when I applied for colleges, I applied for China Studies. During junior year, I was in the library cramming for finals. This thought really hit me hard: Am I happy? Is this really what I want? I’ve been always creating things in my whole life. I paint, I sew, and I make. And I really wanted to continue doing those my entire life! This is when I first realized that I wanted to become a fashion designer.
TPM: When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?
It was on my freshmen year. A lot of people told me to wait until sophomore year, when I have basic knowledge of fashion and then get an internship. However, I just jumped right into internship on my first year. It was luxury couture studio called Cristina Ottaviano. The most valuable thing that I learnt is that fashion is dedication. While interning there, I observed craftsmanship and how this effects people’s lives in good ways. It brings joy, beauty and appreciation.
TPM: What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?
My first job is at Universal Standard, which is contemporary size inclusive fashion brand. I worked there in Design Development & Technical Design team. I’ve interned there for about a year when I was in junior year in Parsons. At that time, I was questioning about inclusivity in fashion industry. I strongly felt like fashion is pretty limited to certain size range, so I’d like to learn more about expanding size range. This is why I started to intern at Universal Standard, and it continued after graduation.
TPM: Define plus-size concept nowadays in fashion industry in five words.
Rebel, Inclusive, Forward, Fast-changing, Effort.
TPM: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
‘Don’t think, just DO!’ I’d like to quote every single word from Sol LeWitt’s letter to Eva Hesse.
TPM: What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?
When I just started fashion, the biggest mistake was that I cared too much about how others think about my designs. Feedbacks from 3rd views are very important, but at least first two years, I think that is really great time to explore, create whatever I’m inspired by, and challenge myself. I was too scared and insecure about bad feedbacks so I tended to design whatever looks good. But soon I learnt from my mistake that I shouldn’t do that when I just started fashion.
TPM: What is one thing you look at the models for your campaigns?
I look for diversity. I want my models to show how diverse the world is. There are a lot of different people in this world. We cannot be defined in one category, however, our society puts certain norms to us. I want to break them with my models who represent my collection.
TPM: What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Social media plays crucial role in every field these days. Especially in fashion, social media is a tool to communicate with others. Sometimes designers tend to be stuck in their own zone and don’t even realize that it limits their perspective. Social media becomes the linkage between the zone and outside of world so that designs wouldn’t be only for designers, but for us all.
TPM: What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry?
My favorite part of fashion is that fashion is embracing. However, non-favorite part is that fashion is also reluctant to accept. Fashion always seek for new. And it’s very willing to see that new and spread it. On the other hand, fashion also has a tendency to keep what has been there too. People sometimes criticize about change and force it to go back or stay where it has been. It’s fashion’s double-sided knife.
TPM: How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?
I want people to feel empowered when wearing my clothes. There are a lot of people who have been hiding in the back and discriminated by our society for what they are. My clothes are for them to feel like themselves and empower themselves to break free.
TPM: Can you tell us how C’est D by Doyeon Yoni Yu makes the difference as a brand?
It’s going for diversity and inclusivity in fashion.
Our society constantly tells us how we should be and put absurd standard to us. We’re accepting it without any doubt. In fact, beauty has its own standard. It’s not something that society can give you. It’s something that YOU build and create. That is why beauty is based on individuality and personality. I’m sending this message through my brand.
I am unapologetically designing fashion for every body, and ultimately providing same fashion choices and experiences to everybody regardless of anything that stops you. My goal is to empower women to love their bodies and take a stand against fat stigma. Also, to truly celebrate body equality and liberate us all from this fat phobic world. I want to achieve the goal through my designs.
TPM: News on the way regarding your next collection?
I’m currently working on FW collection for upcoming fashion week in February 2019! I’m very excited to show new collection. I’m gonna participate NYFW for sure, and right now thinking about LFW as well. I’m trying to get my collection exposed to wider range of people so that I can spread my brand’s positive energy.
TPM: What do you think is the biggest challenge for a fashion designer?
The biggest challenge is to figure out how to convince my designs to our society and the audiences. During countless of brand presentations, I had a hard time to convince people that fashion is not about ‘making you look skinnier’. A lot of feedbacks include that my collections might make plus-size customers look bigger, not smaller. This is huge prejudice that most of us have in fashion. In fact, we’re not even given the opportunity to see various design choices among certain size ranges because of that thought. This limits creativity. Fashion is about looking amazing. And, it doesn’t have to mean ‘looking skinnier’ necessarily.
TPM: There is one important person, in your life, who pushes and motivates you to believe in yourself?
My thesis professor and mentor, Fiona Dieffenbacher is really important in my designer’s life. When I was only thinking of my direction for size inclusive and hesitating to go for it, she really supported me and motivated me to take real actions. She always gives me bravery to take next steps and think forward. Without her, I can’t stand where I am. Whenever I’m discouraged or don’t know what to do, she gives me endless belief that I can do it. I’m really grateful that I met her while I was at school.
TPM: How do you think a big brand should motivate their collaborators and team members?
In big brands, team members easily lose motivations. They think that they’re playing little part of the company and consider themselves not important. It’s really important to constantly show appreciation to members and collaborators because they’re the ones who make the brand big. Appreciation can be anything: Holidays, gifting, promotion, wage raise, etc. However, most of brands forget the fact and it leads to losing amazing talents.
TPM: How do you think sustainable can play an important role in fashion industry?
Fashion has been questioned about sustainability for a long time. There are documentary films that reports how fashion is not sustainable. Fashion takes huge parts in our daily lives. We everyday consume and wear clothes. It’s a necessity item. If we can minimize our waste and become more sustainable even little bit, it will help a lot. However, even though sustainable fashion is important, there is no big movement in educational institutions. Maybe one class or one project. If we really want to promote sustainable fashion in further future, we should start doing better from educating students because that is the really first step.
TPM: Describe us Doyeon Yoni Yu as a person and how your feelings influence the creativity process?
Me as a person, sometimes I’m very positive and motivated, however, sometimes I’m very negative and helpless. I think this is not only me, a lot of people are going through the same thing like me. We are humans. We can’t always be happy and positive. There are some times that you’re upset and thinking negatively. That is not wrong, that is natural. At first, it’s hard to accept that I can sometimes have negative thoughts about myself. The more important thing is to make sure I have a power to recover from those negative feelings and thoughts. So I put encouragement message to my creative process while making a collection. Also, I give empowerment to get over with negativity about oneself.
TPM: Would you like to involve other accessories designers in your future projects?
Yes, sure! Especially, I’d really like to collaborate with jewelry designers. I haven’t done any jewelries so far and this is the field that I’d like to include in my collection. My collection includes various shapes and lines which would look interesting when interpreted into jewelry. Please contact me if you’re interested!
TPM: What do you think is the main mission of the CO-BRANDING concept ?
The ultimate goal of co-branding is to maximize each other’s influence to the customers. Co-branding should boost both of parties’ designs and bring out the most effective result at the end. So I think the best co-branding strategy is to find a brand which has skills or personalities that I don’t have.
TPM: How fashion PR agencies can help more the brands and what skills a good fashion PR should have in your opinion?
It’s really hard for emerging designers to get exposed to audiences. We don’t have much resources or connections so we are easily frustrated by the thought that we can’t reach to people with our designs. The priority for fashion PR agencies is to get designers exposed to various types of media: Digital magazines, runway shows, articles, editorials, etc. In my opinion, good fashion PR should have the access to various types of influential audiences, like editors, photographers, influencers, models, etc.
TPM: What designers inspire you and why?
I get inspired by designers who really try to break and change people’s perspective. Designers who always challenge society’s norms and take brave steps really inspire me. For example, I’m really inspired by Chromat and Cristian Siriano. Chromat, their runways show that fashion is for all people in this world. Their aesthetic really pushes to change existing norms. Also, Cristian Siriano, he really brings size inclusivity in high fashion, which people wouldn’t think of. We mostly think that it’s hard for bigger sizes to be luxury and high end fashion, however, he smashes that idea.
TPM: There is anyone special who would like to meet in person?
Yes! I’d like to meet the founder of Chromat, Becca. Chromat’s whole aesthetic really inspired me and it’s really brave. Sometimes, I’m discouraged by how hard to change people’s perspective. I’d like to hear how she handles when she’s discouraged and how she pushes through her brand motto. Also, I want to hear more about Chromat’s future plans, directions, and ultimate goals.
TPM: What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?
Online market is huge. Also, it’s very approachable since everybody can access to it. So I’d like to use the opportunity to reach broader range of customers online. Most of people who has contacted me about purchase, they all asked me about online purchase, not boutique. I think it really shows how people easily react to online market. My SS19 collection is available online on https://flyingsolo.nyc/collections/shop-designers