KI LEE, Korean sustainable fashion brand, handbags

KI LEE

A sustainable Korean fashion brand

KI LEE is an accessories brand based in Seoul that creates sculptural designs using innovative sustainable materials. As vessels embodying the link between minimalistic forms and innovative eco-friendly material, KI LEE products seek to reconnect the consumers with fantastical imaginations of the future and foster a sense of hopeful agency in shaping the world to come.

 

ABOUT THE DESIGNER / ARTISTIC BACKGROUND

My vision and mission as a designer are informed by two important realizations I had as an artist. The first one came about during my time as an exchange student at Central Saint Martins where I befriended many fashion design students at the school’s old Charing Cross campus. From discussing our works, I began to wonder what it was that made fine art and fashion design so different that kept the products of one within the confines of gallery walls, while those of the other served their roles in the everyday lives of individuals. As a sculptor, I would be incredibly lucky if I got to showcase my works to the world through exhibitions, and even luckier if I were able to sell my works to a collector who would then store it in a secure, private location. The products of design, on the other hand, could be bought and incorporated into people’s lives. 

The second realization came from the wise words of my painter friend whom I met at an artist residency. He jokingly told me, “like many artists and theorists have said, anything can be art and anyone can be an artist. But there are good arts and bad arts.” To me, the “goodness” of art has always lied in its ability to change its audience’s perspective of and relationship with the rest of the world.

Two years later, I found a happy marriage of these two realizations in leather bags, which I learned to make at a local leather atelier in Seoul. I wanted for my bags, which I considered sculptures with handles that can hold something inside, to reconnect their users to the ever-present yet easily overlooked artistic undercurrents of everyday life. 

 

SUSTAINABILITY

KI LEE’s commitment to sustainable and responsible design began out of necessity as the business grew. Since the brand’s 2017 launch as an order-made handmade leather brand, intelligent use of material and waste management have always been key to the brand’s business model and philosophy.

As business and production volume grew over the years, the brand transitioned from the handmade model to a larger production model, focusing on product development while working in partnership with local manufacturers. After one season of working in this new model, however, it became clear that the brand could no longer maintain its intelligent use of leather–a highly resource-intense material–or have a tight control over waste management.

In order to mitigate the negative environmental impacts inherent to larger-scale production and stay true to the brand’s philosophy of intelligent design, KI LEE carried out a comprehensive renewal, committing to finding and using innovative materials that could substitute leather.

KI LEE

KI LEE

Founder: Ki Chan Lee

Seoul-based accessories brand with a commitment to intelligent designs and sustainable materials.

KI LEE

Seoul Fashion Creative Studio Room A05

22 Majang-ro, Jung-gu

Seoul, South Korea

Hours
Monday–Friday
10am–6pm

Phone
+82 70 7847 5117

Website
https://kileekorea.com

 

Rent KI LEE handbags

KI LEE // Fair Fashionista