At his recent New York Fashion Week show, Hyden Yoo had his models smoking and shooting pool instead of walking the runway at the Soho House. What do you expect from a designer who financed his foray into fashion with the money he won competing on the TV show Fear Factor? That initial investment and leap of faith paid off for the former consultant with absolutely no formal fashion training (he actually studied biology).
The foundation was simple: design a shorter version of the standard men's button-down so it looked great tucked or untucked. From there, Hyden has developed lines for both men and women focusing on versatility allowing professionals and free spirits to meet comfortably in the stylish middle.
The daring designer recently shared the motivation behind his one-of-a-kind presentation and what comes next for his brand.
The Fashion Spot: Were you nervous about your New York Fashion Week show?
Hyden Yoo: Not really. We were really excited to show, but we had a million other things going on in addition to the presentation. It was more of a challenge to juggle everything. For some reason, I don't get nervous anymore for anything. Also, we had a great team with several fashion weeks under their belts, so everything went relatively smooth.
tFS: Why stage your show so informally and in such a non-traditional manner?
HY: We all thought it would be a cool idea. Something that people will remember which is important for a first presentation. I personally like more movement and more model interaction and it fit more with the theme.
tFS: How long were you working on preparing for the show?
HY: Getting the sample on point was the biggest hurdle. If you don't include that, probably about two weeks before. Again, lots of helping hands that made this possible.
tFS: What's the feedback been like regarding the show?
HY: I think it has been pretty good. I haven't heard anything negative or really even had too much time to read or listen. Maybe I'm such a nice guy that no one wants to talk shit!
tFS: I know you've been hitting the trade shows, but what's the next step after Fashion Week? How do you successfully build off that momentum?
HY: The presentation definitely gave us some momentum. We hope to use that to begin designing next season's collection. Also, in the meantime, we hope that it gives us opportunities to work with retailers we are not working with and to give shoppers more awareness about our brand. I guess next season, we'll have to prepare early and try to top our first presentation.
tFS: The Fall 2011 collection centered on 1950s-era British rockabilly style. Where did your inspiration come from?
HY: It came from the Teddy Boy movement back in the UK. To be more specific, I saw some photos on the Internet of a series of photos by Ken Russell called Teddy Girls. Some amazing portraits.
tFS: With your latest offering, do you feel like your line still appeals to the mainstream or are you starting to cross over to the more daring, fashion-forward side of the road?
HY: At the moment, I have my hands in both cookie jars. That's where I want to be.
tFS: Even though you don't like to put too much focus on what you wear, if you wanted to rock a piece from your latest men's collection what would you choose?
HY: There is a shearling-lined black moleskin parka that's super warm. I'd totally rock that during the cold months.
tFS: What is your favorite look from your current women's collection?
HY: It is the one with a wool cardigan that has hairy angora sleeves draped over a light grey denim shirt, and paired with a five pocket canvas jean with contrast piping.
tFS: Are you at all surprised by your success?
HY: I don't think I'm successful quite yet. I think there's still a long ways to go. I can get back to you after a few more seasons.
tFS: Do you feel pressure to prove yourself because of how you got started in the industry? How do other designers treat you?
HY: Absolutely not. Basically started from zero, so I think I was at a slight disadvantage. It just makes me work harder. Other designers treat me very well because we know how tough this industry is, so nothing but love and respect for one another.
tFS: Favorite designer other than yourself?
HY: Very cliche, but Ralph Lauren. Amazing businessman. He's segmented the market with several different labels. Wholesale channel, retail sales, etc. Great designs. Just solid all around. I really admire what he has created.
tFS: What celebrity would you love to see in your clothes?
HY: Johnny Depp and Kate Moss. Yeah, I know that they are a very common answer for this question, but they are seriously the perfect size and the perfect look for what I'm trying to achieve. They're also super fashionable without trying too hard.
For more on Hyden and his designs, head to hydenyoo.com.