Before launching her eponymous line in 2009, designer Jennifer Chun was the senior designer at Brian Reyes and demonstrated her talents at Michael Kors and Derek Lam. The Pratt alumna made her New York Fashion Week debut in 2011 as one of Gen Art’s “Fresh Faces” and has since caught the eye of tastemakers with her structured silhouettes, rich textures and timeless, versatile pieces.
How do you define Jennifer Chun as a brand?
The brand is preppy, but with a casual, effortless tomboy feeling. It’s also about taking statement pieces and layering to build a wardrobe.
Are you doing anything different with your SS13 collection? What was your inspiration?
I think it’s always important to stay consistent but still push yourself each season to balance what you want to do as a designer and make your collection wearable. Without giving away too much about SS13, the inspiration driving my collection was developing a print and relating to a trip to Barcelona. I love using different patterns and fabric combinations and in SS13 you will see more of that in a colorful way.
How do you work or collaborate with a stylist, especially one who works mainly in menswear?
I think it’s important for a designer to keep his/her vision and work with someone who relates to that vision but also brings a different perspective. Working with a stylist that brings a menswear element to my collection is a perfect collaboration for me.
Can you describe your decision to present this collection?
I think it’s important to present at the right time for your own collection. This season feels right to me because I am growing and now ready to challenge myself in other ways.
As a graduate of the Pratt Institute, do you find yourself in a design community that differs from the ones surrounding designers who are not technically or academically trained? What are the obvious differences between designers who are trained and those who are not?
I think every designer has his/her own way of learning the business. I have absolutely no regrets entering this business the way I have. It’s not an easy business, so there have definitely been enormous challenges and people have questioned the way I went about it. I think it’s made me tougher. I studied pre-law first, so going to Pratt really set a foundation for me to learn all the technical aspects. This was important for me because once I started my own company, I didn’t have to hire or rely on someone else to do that part for me. I like knowing what’s going on.
What is the most significant business decision you’ve made that has impacted your collections?
When I first started, I realized you have a lot of people telling you how to run the business and what to design. I think one of the best business decisions I’ve made was defending what I know the brand is and trying something I believe in doing even if the outcome isn’t what I expected. It’s leaning how to balance what you want as a designer with business.
Who do you admire in the industry from a design perspective and from a business perspective?
From a design perspective, I would say Balenciaga. I think Nicolas Ghesquière really does what he wants to and he’s always ahead. I also think the business model of Dries Van Noten is amazing. His clothes are always wearable, have a good fit and the brand has sold well despite not following trends, not having a major accessories line and not doing a pre-fall or resort show.
How do you define your brand’s commercial success?
I genuinely think it’s important to not be contrived and to stay true to your brand and aesthetic. I think my customers see the type of designer that I am.
What is next for Jennifer Chun?
I think it’s to continue evolving, but to also challenge myself with designing more prints and novelties. Every designer has so many ideas and it’s about making it cohesive and doing things within the right timing for your line.