ACUOD By Chanu

Faces Behind the Brand

We have received a very unusual letter with the zipper on it. It turned out to be an invitation to the opening show of a Tokyo Fashion Week. From that very moment we could not stop thinking what does the zipper symbolise. 


Brand ACUOD by CHANU presented its debut collection during the Amazon Tokyo Fashion Week S/S 2017. It was an extravagant combination of fashion, music and dance; Very inspiring with the adequate dose of mystery. Designer Chan Woo Lee with his innovative unisex collection conquered the Amazon Tokyo Fashion Week. We got very intrigued with the unisex idea and other parts of the collection, like masks, zippers and glass chains. So we visited his atelier to understand his designs better (or to dévoile his designs).



What does ACUOD stand for?
The brand name ACUOUD stands for ‘Ace Creation Unisex Original Dress` and it is also a reverse reading of Japanese character 同化 (douka). Douka in Japanese means to assimilate. The opposite word is  異化, which means to dissimilate.  Hence ACUOD represents both meanings. ‘Man/Ladies’, ‘Street/Mode’, ‘Sporty/Formal’, no boundaries. We assimilate all, clothes, ideas, values, and dissimilate them, at the same time. So maybe at some point we stop labelling and separating everything. We overcome our restrictions, open our minds and broaden our horizons.



Where from do you take your inspirations?
Mostly, I am inspired by a hip-hop culture, songs, dance and fashion. I really like 50 cent, Pharrell Williams and G-Dragon (Korean rapper). They cross borders and try new things. That attitude is very stimulating for me and agrees with my idea of life. I want my clothes to connect different cultures, different people. So we all together can start the new era. Era without thinking restrictions.


What kind of impact do you imagine your clothes have on peoples lifestyles?
I want my clothes to enhance the personality. So if someone is very cute I want that person to look cute and if someone is very strong I want my clothes to make that person strong. I want my clothes to make peoples lifestyles easier, thats why functionality and comfort in my designs are very important. For this collection, for example, I used stretchy cotton, so that everyone can move easily in my designs without any restrictions on job they do or places they want to go when wearing them.



Very bold choice of accessories, zippers and glass chains, what do they symbolise?
For me zippers represent connectivity as well as mystery. By closing a zipper we connect two parts. Depending on a zipper type, those parts can be connected very thigh (small zippers) or there can be a space in-between, if the zipper is big. I used small polished metallic zippers (Excella zipper) for the clothes, as clothes are our second skin. However, I used very industrial big zippers (30VA) for the masks that models wore. By hiding a part of models face we create an illusion that they all are the same and only by opening the zipper we reveal the true face/sex, hence the mystery. In my collection I used YKK zippers, as they provide such a broad choice of zippers.

As for the glass chains, it is a product of collaboration with Luce Macchia. Glass chain is a sort of oxymoron or materials play. As chains are supposed to withstand big forces and glass is a very fragile material. So by making chains from the glass we again break the stereotypes.



Can you tell us more about your centre piece, The Dress?
It is my tribute to collars. I have always been admiring the beauty of collars. In fact, collar’s primary function is to protect from the sun, wind etc. but the truth is that collar became sort of lifestyle expression. Depending on what we do in life or how we feel at a given moment we choose for  different collar. It is a detail that decides how our shirt is perceived. Hence, no wonder that collars design have been evolving over the years.

My dress composes out of 350 collars, which design dates from the early 19th century till now. I see it a bit as collar history retrospective. From the earliest at the bottom to the most current design around the neck. Each collar is bottomed to the dress, and it takes about 3 hours to attach them all, if you know the correct way.  The dress was created in 2 months with the help of 24 people.



Photographed by Katsuyoshi Komatsu

Translated by Natsumi

Follow ACUOD by Chanu on Instagram @acuodbychanu