Go to industry-insider Kate Foley or Leandra Medine’s Instagrams and you’ll be sure to find pieces from Rejina Pyo’s collections. There’s the Greta dress, a timeless confection that’s light and white, with a ruched scoop neck and balloon sleeves, or her Rejina Pyo x Yuul Yie Eyelet peek-a-boo heels making multiple appearances as “it” items this season. But what does it take to go from Central St Martins MA student from Seoul to international fashion favourite in four years?
Pyo has been interested in the concept of brands since she was little. Alongside a natural affinity for fashion, thanks to her designer mother, she was unusually attracted to the magic of brand power.
“When I was a teenager,” she says, “I was fascinated by the power of brands like Prada and BMW. They’re just letters, but they carry such meaning to certain people. That was incredible to me so I had this vague notion that I wanted to have a brand or my name on something in the future. I just didn’t know how I would make it happen.”
That, it turned out, would be through fashion and the woman the brand designs for – herself. Her range appeals to a modern woman who forgoes trends and knows what suits her.
“They’re not showy,” says Pyo of her clientele. “They’re quite understated, effortless, elegant and feminine, but not in a girly way. They appreciate detail. Maybe that’s what I got from Korea. Living in London and being in my 30s, you want to enjoy life – hence the crazy pieces.
“I think it works when you do what you’re good at and what you like. People will respond when you’re being honest to yourself and not trying to do something else.”
As was evidenced by her first New York presentation for her spring/summer 2017 collection at Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s Manhattan store, it was the women who spoke for her, “We literally had really cool girls,” she says. “Not models but friends or street-cast New York girls wearing the pieces. It was in a store that I loved and we had drinks. I loved it because I got to meet and talk to people and this is what my brand represents – real people who have jobs, who work and want to wear my pieces.”
Her pieces certainly get worn. Celebrity dressing requests from London to her hometown, Seoul, fill up her inbox. Editors and style mavens strut to events in head-to-toe Pyo. Instagram is abuzz with her pieces – but the ultimate sign of success came in the form of counterfeiting,
“Because these celebrities are so well known, and coverage is massive,” she says, “whenever they wear something, the next day somebody makes a copy of the same thing and sells it in the market. They literally buy it off Net-a-Porter to copy it and then sell it on online shopping malls.”
But Pyo has reconciled with this evil through understanding, “At first I was really sad about it, but when you get huge exposure it’s like that.”