Name/Age: YK Hong, 37
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Profession: Artist, Fashion Designer, Photographer, Mac Technician, Writer, Activist
Fashion Line: Grit Gear
How would you describe your fashion sensibility?
YK: I try to keep myself not attached to one artist, because I want to stay inspired by new things constantly. And I also find myself very attracted to colors. I usually find my inspiration from everyday life, like walking down the street.
Recently I found that what people are most inspired by are things they haven’t seen before, but at the same time, things that are organic and that they can identify with… So everything I make comes from things I see all around me.
I’m trying to get people to think really outside of the box. I want people to think differently about everyday objects-- the manhole cover, the piece of scrap metal, things they might not otherwise notice.
What about Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn inspires you creatively?
YK: When I first moved here ten years ago, I realized I was a part of what was changing about Bed-Stuy very quickly. But there are ways to enter a community in an accountable way, so I immediately became a part of a lot of the community efforts that were going on.
I was attracted to Bed-Stuy because it was people of color-based, a family-oriented and very tight-knit community. I went to college in the South, which is where I got a sense of what it really was like to live in a black neighborhood, because I was the only Asian around. They were so flexible and welcoming of other people’s struggles. So that was a big bonding experience for me.
Everyone in my circle knows that I love Brooklyn and am so hardcore about Bed-Stuy. They call me "The Ambassador of Brooklyn," and I think it’s because I love the community so much. The community has supported my art work and my efforts so strongly that I feel like my business has been able to remain strong and grow.
Describe your fashion line:
YK: Grit Gear is about finding the grittiness and the greatness in urban life. It’s about the endurance of the human spirit. Grit Gear is wearable art because the pieces are not simply accessories. Each piece is an artistic endeavor, carefully crafted with detail from leather and hardware.
I think a lot of people are afraid of leather, because they often associate it with motorcycle gangs, S&M or a dominatrix. But I feel that leather is something that brings out people’s adventurous sides. For a lot of people, “adventure” means pushing the boundaries of what it feels like to be afraid.
So I’m trying to change the way people view it. But if you look at the photos on my website, there’s a woman in an evening gown wearing my leather cuffs and leather harness. So I’m trying to make people understand that everything you create is art. You can wear my pieces to a party, or to a barbeque, or you can wear it naked. It should not feel like something that is inaccessible.
Also, I think Fashion Week tends to be very biased towards certain cultures and certain sizes. So I’m hoping to make my event one that features people of different sizes, backgrounds, etc... I want people to come as themselves and enjoy themselves.
When/Where will you be showing?
- To view Grit Gear's full collection, go here.
- For Grit Gear on Facebook, go here.
- To watch the latest video on Grit Gear's spring collection, go here.
To watch a live streaming of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Spring Fashion Week, go here.
Also, YK has launched an indiegogo campaign to raise $8800 for equipment and tools to produce more Grit Gear.To donate to the indiegogo campaign, go here.