Joo Won-dae, a South Korean model-turned-fashion-designer, is a force to be reckoned with. From catwalks, magazine shoots and hosting shows, to being the creative director and designer of his own clothing line Duck Dive, often worn by K-Pop idols, including Jong-hyun of SHINee, Park Jin-young of GOT7, Jung-kook and Jin of BTS – Won-dae is a young man of many talents; he likes to stand out and to be unlike anyone else.
You might think that Joo Won-dae has been in the fashion business for decades; however, surprisingly, he only gained wider recognition after the 2015 OnStyle’s Devil’s Runaway fashion show. Since then, he has achieved a great deal as a model; he walked the runaway for NOHANT, SLING STONE, D-ANTIDOTE, DOZOH, UL:KIN, Kwak Hyun-joo, to name a few. This year, he also received the Model Container Award at the K-Fashion Awards, again proving that he is a great talent worth paying attention to. As South Korean fashion industry is busy generating a new level of household fame for itself with its incredibly versatile models, Joo Won-dae stands strong among them.
Do you remember the first moment when you felt that your future should lie in the fashion business?
I was actually just an ordinary student and I didn’t know what I wanted to do (laughs). I finished military duty and I was watching a fashion show and then I decided that I would like to be a model and tried to find the way to become one.
Modelling requires to be in a top form, what do you do to stay in shape?
We have 2 seasons in each year and before that season – it’s one of the most sensitive times for many – a lot of models don’t eat much food or drink a lot of water, simply because we have to stay in perfect shape. I’m a little bit lazy when it comes to training or working hard, but I still train every day before bedtime.
Fashion trends change rapidly, no matter the country and style. What are the fashion trends you love the most this year?
This year I really like the que wear (it’s a kind of a style). My favourite brand is Juun J. These days, fashion trends change rapidly, which makes me more excited about wearing new styles of clothes.
Do you feel that you are open to all styles, or is there a concept that you feel fits who you are?
I’m always open to try any of the styles, but I am not always sure if certain styles are suitable for me. Having said that, I personally really like street style.
What’s your perception of the modelling industry in South Korea?
The industry is growing fast; these days, there are also many models in Korea, simply because models have more visible jobs, for example, they don’t only model, they also do acting in TV shows, and the younger generation, after watching those TV shows, want to become models too.
Is there something you feel needs to be changed in the fashion industry in South Korea?
Sadly, there are clients in the fashion industry that do not always want to pay the models for the work they do. I wish that would change as we do work hard.
You have been working as a designer and creative director of Duck Dive brand. You design mainly for men; will you ever challenge yourself to design clothes for women?
I have already started to design clothes for women and maybe, next year, I will start a proper brand for women too!
You are a model, broadcaster and designer – you really keep yourself busy. Which of these three is closer to your heart?
Number one would be my modelling career, I think. But I am aware that I am not getting any younger, and when I am much older, I won’t be able to take modelling jobs anymore, so I work hard on other things and keep myself busy.
Modelling industry has a bad rep when it comes to jealousy and egos that sometimes clash, may it be between models themselves or their agencies. Are you worried you might experience it somewhere along your modelling career?
I try to be honest and well-mannered. I have never caused any issues at my agency, they are truly good people, like angels (laughs). And jealousy and egos can be found everywhere, so I always try to understand people and communicate as much as possible.
Do you ever get shy in front of the camera?
Actually, I get shy in front of the camera sometimes (laughs), but I also try to look cool and try to enjoy what I do at that particular moment.
Which part of your job as a model do you find the most difficult?
I think the most difficult part is to wear winter clothes in the summer or to put on summer clothes in the winter (laughs).
Coco Chanel once said, “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” What, in your opinion, makes you different from the other models around you?
I always try to look different to other people, but – in all honesty – I don’t know (laughs). I consistently search for my own style and try to be a fashion reader. Fashion has no answer, you have to make it your own.
You recently had your 1st big fan meeting in Malaysia and you will be attending another one in Abu Dhabi in October. How’s was that experience for you? Was the attention overwhelming?
It was an amazing experience for me, it energized me – I don’t know how to properly explain that feeling. However, during the last showcase, I was somewhat sad… of course, there were many people there and I also had that feeling of happiness, but at the same time, there was sadness. No clue why.… But I will make sure to make people happy when I am in Abu Dhabi in October.
Within a short period of time, you have already accomplished a lot as a model. What do you wish to accomplish next?
I would like to have my own talk show on TV, that would be my ultimate project! Where I and the audience could talk or sometimes sing.
Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Sanja Struna
We’d like to thank A.Conic for their assistance in the interview and to Joo Won-dae who kindly took the time to answer our questions.
Photos with BNT INTERNATIONAL’s logo © BNT INTERNATIONAL and courtesy of its photographer.
Featured photo © A.Conic and courtesy of its photographer
All other photos © A.Conic