For the past few years, South Korea has been introducing the Western world not only to new styles every season, but also to the hottest fashion talents in the industry with Park Soo-joo and Choi Sora paving the way.
Towering at 186 cm tall, the 20-year-old Kwon Tae-eun can effortlessly pull off any style. His quirky personality, humour and warm smile can easily brighten one’s day. With a good command of English, Tae-eun is ambitious and eager to achieve his goals whether it’s to become a singer or a fashion icon; he is not short of dreams and ideas.
Photo © SONGINTAK
Tae-eun debuted in 2018 at the Seoul Fashion Week and, since then, he has been taking over the domestic market by storm. Scouted by A.Conic, a Seoul based modelling agency that represents the likes of Sung-hoon, Joo Won-dae, Rina, Jeon Se-jin and Daro, Tae-eun also experienced the music world when he participated in Produce X 101 in 2019, a boy group survival show, which put the young man in the spotlight even more. A few months ago, Tae-eun joined the A.Fact project under his agency and Stallion Entertainment; a group that also consists of Won-dae, Sejin, Bawool and Ho-seong.
Even though becoming a model was one of his goals, Tae-eun does not stop dreaming of learning more and becoming a professional in various fields of the entertainment industry. But what are his ambitions, future goals and favourite style? We recently caught up with Tae-eun and chatted about fashion and things he likes to do outside of modelling.
Photo © Bnt International
You will soon turn 21-years-of-age, at such a young age, you have already done a decent amount of work in entertainment, including modelling. Even though you started modelling not long ago, what really prompted you to enter the world of fashion?
As my grades dropped in high school, I really thought about what I loved and what I could do well. One of my usual hobbies was watching fashion shows, so I thought about what it would be like to be a model who wears nice clothes. As I went to a model academy, I developed my dream and met a modelling agency: A.Conic. [That being said], I am still running towards my dream, [whatever it might be].
As you have been modelling for over a year now, do you feel that you are open to all styles, or is there a fashion concept that you feel fits who you are?
I think that a model should fit in any style; I often try to wear various styles without sticking to one. But recently, my fans like my neat style, so I wear it as a dandy style, but it might change again soon.
Modelling requires you to be in top form, what do you do to stay in shape?
Once I lose weight, I am sure to eat less and move more than an average person. I don’t go to the fitness centre, but I walk a lot and climb stairs a lot. Even when I eat, I don’t eat carbohydrates much and I try to eat a lot of protein. And, during fashion shows, I often starve.
Photo © Dazed Korea
Not long ago, you also participated in Produce X 101, a reality television competition show. Has your life changed since the show ended?
Before going on the TV show, I was a new model. So, after appearing on that TV show, many people recognized me and liked me. [TV appearance] gave me an opportunity to become a self-maintained model sooner. And I would like to thank my fans who still support me.
Where do you think your future lies? Fashion, music or is there anything else that you are interested in doing?
I’m still 20 years old and I think there’s a lot to do. Now, I’m in the fashion industry and in a band, but I want to act someday and learn how to design clothes. I want to be a self-maintained model and I’d like to be a professional in every field [possible].
How do you balance your everyday life and work as a model, especially in such a demanding industry?
My life is all about modelling right now. I think the model should be prepared to be called at any time. So when that opportunity comes, I shall [should] be ready at any given time.
Photo © SONGINTAK
What’s your perception of the modelling industry in South Korea?
There is certainly less interest in fashion than in Europe and America. But as time goes by, people seem to be more engaged with it, so it seems like it’s been growing every year. I am looking forward to the Korean fashion industry becoming bigger.
Are there any habits you have before you walk on stage or in front of the camera for a fashion shoot?
I think the left profile of my face looks better and cool. Often, I have a habit of showing the left side of my face when I take pictures. When I do a fashion show, I try to hold my breath and keep my eyes open as much as possible.
You tasted the fashion world as well as the music industry, which part of your job as a model or as an emerging singer do you find most difficult, and which is the most rewarding?
What’s difficult for a model is the change of one’s image frequently to keep up with the trend. It is rewarding when people buy a product that I am a model for or when it stands out because of me. I’m happy when people listen to me when I sing as well.
Photo © Courtesy of the Photographer and A.Conic
Alexander McQueen once said, “Youth culture now really looks back and embraces the past, but keeps it contemporary but not sticking to one particular style.” It seems like younger generations seek inspiration from the past, how do you see your generation when it comes to fashion?
I agree. One of the most popular fashions in Korea is Newtro. It is a combination of NEW and RETRO. I also like fashion which is combined with current fashion through the inspiration of the past. Having said that, looking at past fashion pictures, I think there is a lot of fashion that doesn’t make sense sometimes.
What’s your favourite thing to do on your day off?
I like being at home. Listening to music, watching movies, cooking, etc. Now, I am interested in assembling Lego.
What’s next for you? Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
I will prepare well for the Seoul Fashion Week in October as the one in March has been cancelled due to Coronavirus. I will also work on a new song for A.Fact. In addition, I am thinking of starting a YouTube channel as a hobby, please subscribe to it when it’s up [laughs].
We’d like to thank A.Conic for their assistance with the interview and Kwon Tae-eun who kindly took the time to answer our questions.
Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Julia Litwinowicz
Featured photo © A.Conic
All other photos © Courtesy of the Photographers and A.Conic