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HBX Female Series: Seohyun Cho of s/e/o

If you’re an avid follower of the Korean fashion and beauty space on YouTube and Instagram, chances are you’ve come across s/e/o. Consistently gaining an increasing following, the rising label is now expanding beyond South Korea, launching for the very first time on HBXWM. In the inaugural installment of HBXWM’s Female Series – where we explore the minds of exciting talent in the creative space – we speak to Seohyun Cho, the founder of s/e/o, to chat about the beginnings of her label, recent hobbies and more. Continue reading for our interview with the creative, and shop the latest s/e/o collection now.

“Not setting any boundaries serves as the basis to describe the s/e/o aesthetic,” Cho describes her label, which she has built since 2019 in partnership with graphic designer Miok. Over past seasons, the brand has become loved more and more for its unique and androgynous style highlighted with statement prints and loose silhouettes. Standout styles from s/e/o’s latest collection that embody this aesthetic are the Good Humor line, which features a black-and-white checkerboard print, and the baggy Pintuck Pants in versatile gray and ivory shades.

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Can you briefly share how s/e/o began? Where were you in your career when you first launched the brand?

I graduated from college majoring in fashion design around the time the brand was launching. I realized early on that I am someone who needs to accomplish things that I desire. Same with fashion, I have always been driven to wear the clothes I want to wear.

What’s the meaning behind the name, s/e/o?

It’s my middle name. I don’t prefer to give special meanings to things. I did, of course, consider different names before coming down to this one. Ultimately I decided to go with my middle name as this is what I personally preferred. I decided to spell it out as S.E.O rather than pronouncing the word itself and added the slashes in between for a visual distinction of the letters.

We would like to know more about the people behind the brand, the ones that create s/e/o?

I do get a lot of support and help from those around me but the main driving force of the brand would be myself and Miok. We both get involved in the design part of the work but she focuses more on the graphic side of the designs. I normally work on the operational part of the business. Our label is currently expanding with growing partners and accounts. We have recently been considering adding more members to the family.

How would you describe the s/e/o aesthetic? What defines the “s/e/o girl?”

Not setting any boundaries serves as the basis to describe the s/e/o aesthetic. We wish to break those restrictions on what a “woman” should be like. We acknowledge women to express freely and interpret their version of beauty in their styles. A woman who does not hesitate to convey their style, and even further, who expresses concerns on the issues of the present times, is the ideal s/e/o girl we imagine. We hope that the clothes these confident women wear are from s/e/o.

It seems that s/e/o provides a variety of tools for the wearer to express their style.

We wish to express our intentions clearly in a variety of areas from graphics and silhouettes to sizing and more. For example, we wanted to select a size that the norm will not usually take for an oversized jacket. We couldn’t give in to convenience and change the vibe or texture we wanted to express. The same goes for the graphics that we work on. We would not be successful in differentiating ourselves if we were to give in to many obstacles when designing our clothes. This is what gives us that competitive advantage and lets our consumers realize the innovative aspect of our brand.

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So you create the s/e/o aesthetic and Miok creates the tools for the aesthetic?

Miok always thinks out of the box. She comes up with ideas that I would have never thought of. Not all of these ideas are translated into designs, but I think this process is really important. Most of our designs start from Miok’s imagination. I would then come up with ways to incorporate these thoughts into designs. I think we are great partners in this sense and that’s what constructs the image of s/e/o.

As a rising brand, what is one thing that you always keep in mind when building a collection?

We are trying to create a collection that satisfies both the discreet structural details as well as the addition of graphics in the designs. Our garments are completed with exaggerated silhouettes and unusual cuts that are comfortable to wear. Although we are not a graphic-focused brand, we want to add enough visual aspects to create the best of both worlds in our collection. The intentional and conscious effort for visual elements such as photography, typography, logos and patterns is an important point that makes s/e/o what it is.

This is slightly off-topic, but we have always been aware of the environmental impacts of our work. We always bear in mind the issues evolved in the waste we produce from the work. To take steps to sustainability, we have recently changed all our packaging tools to recycled and environmentally friendly materials. We are aware and committed to exploring ways to use alternative materials for the environment.

Let’s talk about the brand’s latest lineup. What was the key theme this season, and what inspired you to create these designs?

The main theme for this season was “HUMOR.” I once came across this quote from an interview: “Humor sustains you the same way art does.” I created the collection based on this statement. Due to COVID-related restrictions, we took into consideration that a lot of us are staying at home and created stylish-comfy pieces like the Loose Pintuck Pants, the Good Humor Dress and some sweatpants.

What are your three favorite pieces from the collection and why?

It would be the Double Layered Shirt, Loose Pintuck Pants and the Good Humor Printed Series. We put so much effort into building these styles. The shirt, for example, is a clear representation of what our brand desires to create. The different aspects in the design allow the wearer to freely style the garment in different ways.

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What does your typical working day look like? What about your day off?

I try to go to yoga classes after work on a daily basis. I have been practicing Ashtanga for a year and a half now. The 1.5-hour sessions refresh and calm my mind and body.

On a typical day off, I’ll stay home or meet up with friends. I used to love going out in the past, but with the changing lifestyle due to the pandemic, I’ve been staying home a lot more. Designing requires lots of energy so I try to reenergize by practicing yoga or simply relaxing at home.

What makes Seoul such a fascinating city to live in?

Seoul is filled with new things. I could never get used to this place. Koreans absorb and adapt to new trends very quickly so you’ll spot a ton of new shops, restaurants and cafés open up to fulfill those demands. I usually prefer calmness and familiarity, but this rapidly-changing aspect of Seoul makes it very interesting. The biggest advantage of living here would be the Han River, as it’s the perfect place for a change in scenery depending on the time of the day, weather or season.

Have you picked up any new interests or hobbies recently?

I’ve been trying out pottery. Making objects closely related to my life, adding images or colors and heating to shape is quite an enjoyment. On days with nicer weather, I enjoy traveling to the suburbs to explore nature.

What is the first thing you’d like to do once the pandemic is over, and why?

Travel! I’m sure everyone would probably feel the same. Traveling helps with reenergizing my body and mind. There is just something very special about traveling that I can’t experience on a normal day.

With s/e/o being one of the most exciting rising labels in the Korean fashion scene, are there any new categories or themes that you’re looking to explore in the future?

We’ve come this far thanks to all of the love and support we’ve been receiving. We’re focused on developing and improving our collections. Fashion is not only limited to apparel, so we’re looking to collaborate with different personalities across various fields in the future. We already have some names in mind, but more details to come later.