Korean Fashion Designer Interview: LIE

by Brit Watcher / Coordination Fluxus Agency

Lee Chung Chung, a Central Saint Martin’s alum and son of Korea’s fashion veteran, Lie Sang Bong, began forging his own path in 2013 when he launched, LIE. The label, which stands for “Love, Identity, Ego” appears modern, sporty, and fun in aesthetic. As we arrive to the showroom, Lie’s beautiful and bountiful energy welcomes us into the showroom to learn about his past and where he is planning to go in the future.  A bounce in his step, humor in his words, and here we go…

Photo by Vincent Sung

ABOUT LIE

Chung Chung Lee and Nana Lee, the brother-sister duo behind the brand LIE, are the children of renowned designer parents of the legendary Korean fashion house LIE SANGBONG. Growing up, they were surrounded by creativity, runway shows, and fashion week events that took them around the globe. They formed their own design tastes after graduating from Central Saint Martins and becoming award-winning designers in their own right. They were happy working in the fashion industry independently, but as Chung and Nana settled in Seoul and New York respectively, they sensed a growing desire for more affordable luxury among their peers. That sparked a shared vision to create a line that echoed the elegance and sculptural details of their parents’ label, with a more accessible price point and style for the modern day creative woman. That vision came to life with the launch of LIE.

Chung Chung and Nana’s exquisite taste and laid back demeanor is central to the LIE brand. Defined by a masterful blending of geometric patterns and shapes, each collection manifests their multicultural perspective through a playful yet restrained use of sculptural shapes, proportion, and texture accompanied by intricate details and tailoring.

Since its inception, independent and creative women around the globe have flocked to the brand. Today, LIE has grown over the years to include two free standing stores, multiple pop-up shops throughout Asia and a permanent section in the flagship LIE SANGBONG Concept store in New York’s Meatpacking District. The line is distributed through wholesale accounts across the globe including specialty shops and department stores in Korea, Singapore, China, Turkey, Middle East, Canada, and the United States.

With a team that’s located worldwide, the brand continues to grow and evolve by exploring new possibilities while remembering its roots.

B: Lee I am curious. Tell me about the first fashion show that you ever went to?

L: I saw my fathers fashion show when I was 8 years old in Seoul. He showed me every fashion show when I was young.   He was a big influence on me. His fashion is Fashion is so fantastical. My father is an artist and his shows were always so beautiful, more like an opera with actors, performers, and lavish props. True fantasy. Lie is opposite; we focus on business and not so much on fashion shows.

B: Wow, that is so lovely to be along to work alongside your father from such a young age. When did you start creating garments or the idea of creating garments?

In London when I was studying. Everything in London is stimulating and inspiring for creation.  When I was young there wasn’t a lot of art on display in Seoul. Now there is,,,but years ago not so much and so it was so important for to have those years living in London. I really like to see movies, visit galleries, experience cultural things, good photography, and dive into brilliant paintings for their color combinations. Ahh, My current theme is based around Scarlette, the color and also the woman…I imagine Scarlette, the woman… her moods, her looks.

B: Lee, what was the first garment that you ever made? 

L: You mean since the very beginning? In my entire life?

B: Oui

L: The first garment I made was a very, very simple shirt and it took me a very, very long time (laughing) it was difficult. I did not like this process, it was not my specialty. I started studying fashion business and ended up as a designer later into my studies. It is funny because my sister was the opposite; she started in design and is now into fashion marketing. We swapped positions, we are opposite.

B: So you don’t enjoy sewing?

L: Not so much, in school I sewed my own collections, but my strengths are in the design process. 

B: Favorite hobby as a child?

L: Reading comic books (laughing) I loved comic books, so much that I would hide them under my bed and read because my grandmother and mother would take my books and throw away. In Korea, the parents don’t typically want the their children reading that. My grandmother and mother, especially, didn’t approve of comic book style of reading and so I had to be sneaky. They were so cheap to buy, little small books for 50 cents, the mini versions. So easy to hide and instead of candies, I bought comic books.

B: How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a designer?

L: Around 25, when I was in London. I love London.

B: What was your favorite area of London?

L: I love everything about East London. My studio was on Columbia Road. And I lived in West London.

B: In your studio you have a great team that you have been working with for some time, tell me about inside the work zone.

L: Well, we have two designers and two technicians. And I share team with Lie Sang Bong team, my father and I have separate studios but we share the same sample production studio.  We cannot share because my father collects so many artifacts from travelling and they take up all of the space and is very messy and looks like a garage (laughing). I like to keep things clean. It is not big, but it is our design house.

B: As you are focusing on business and design, you are very busy. How do you balance your life?

L: To be honest I focus on work the most. Unless I am travelling, I meet with friends and party while working early mornings (so I never really rest while I am travelling). When I am in Seoul, I exercise on the weekends; I take a bicycle along the river. Have you seen the river yet?

B: It is massive and so beautiful.

L: (laughing) Also, I really to go eating to nice restaurants and drinking with friends. I don’t have time for myself. Always surrounded.

B: What about cooking. Do you like cooking?

L: NO (laughs) I used to in London a bit. What about you?

B: Pie, I bake pie. What about the fabrics, where do you find them? What do you go for?

L: Korea! Almost everything from Korea, from the DDP area. Sometimes we use specialty fabrics from Italy, but it is rare because Korea has a great selection of good quality fabric. My identity is about mixing fabrics. I use four or five fabrics sometimes in one garment. I choose silhouette first and then combine fabrics within the silhouette.

B: Do you choose fabric before designing or vice-versa?

L: I choose fabric first and then I organize the design after seeing fabrics. Always.

B: And you design by looks or by piece?

L: Piece design and then combine looks later.

B: How do you feel about the fashion industry in regards to commercialism vs. artistry?

L: That is one the hardest things for designers, I am sure you agree?

B: Definitely.

L: For LIE I really want to focus on the commercial side. When I work for my father, it is very artistic and so that side of me becomes satisfied. With LIE I focus on the business aspect of it because I want to make a good brand. This means more basic pieces that are more accessible. My dream is to make a really good brand. It is hard though, this is the big challenge because I still really love the artistic path and it can be confusing sometimes where to draw the line.

B: Who are the lucky targets?

L: The house brand of Lie Sang Bong has thirty-year-old history in Seoul, which allow the original house brand more exclusivity, more of a niche. LIE produces more pieces per style as it is a lower price bracket and has a wider audience. (Early 20’s ranging to late 30’s). “We have a big focus to Mainland China and also we share a flagship store with Lie Sang Bong in the Meatpacking District of New York City, this is exciting”.

ABOUT THE DESIGNER

Chung Chung Lee

Chung Chung Lee was born and raised in Seoul to renowned designer parents who founded the legendary Korean fashion house LIE SANGBONG. Having access to the atelier since the age of six, runways and various fashion week events across the globe since the age of 14, Chung Chung was raised in an environment that fostered creativity and encouraged experimentation, hence his innate inclination toward the arts. Tagging alongside his superstar fashion designer father on his inspiration trips to exotic places such as India and Africa, practicing artistic freedom was a large part of life for Chung.

Commencing his design career in menswear on the famed Savile Row under the guidance of the celebrated menswear designer Oswald Boateng, Chung solidified his tailoring skills, which eventually led to launching a menswear line, A. Hallucination in London. Upon the introduction of his first collection, Chung received critical acclaim by notable fashion magazines such as Vogue UK and GQ UK followed by multiple awards including two consecutive “Winner of Ones to Watch” awards in 2010 and 2011 by Vauxhall Fashion Scout, “Bright Young Things” by Selfridges, and “Menswear Designer” award given by Fashion’s Finest Awards in 2011.

In 2011, Chung partnered with his sister Nana to form the fashion label LIE. Since its launch, LIE has grown to include two free standing stores in Korea, multiple pop-up shops throughout Asia and a permanent section in the flagship LIE SANGBONG Concept store in New York’s Meatpacking District. The line is distributed across the globe including select boutiques, specialty shops and department stores.

Chung continues to build the LIE brand by expanding to new markets globally and online. With LIE’s success, Chung never forgets its roots and weaves this story into the fabric of the brand every day.

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