Kim Jones’s 10 People To Meet: Verbal & Yoon
“Tokyo subculture” is how Verbal and Yoon describe the aesthetic of their jewellery line turned fully fledged fashion enterprise, Ambush. Feted by the establishment and the underground alike, they’ve pioneered a label that’s imbued with the rebellious spirit and pick’n’mix approach to fashion synonymous with Tokyo’s subcultures. However, the duo, who met at high school and are now married, never intended to be fashion designers – Verbal was (and still is) a hip-hop artist, while Yoon was a graphic designer. A living, breathing expression of fashion’s intimate relationship with music, Verbal and Yoon are friends with the likes of Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and Skepta, and collaborators with Kim Jones, Sacai, Undercover and K-pop star G-Dragon.
TED STANSFIELD: How do you define yourself
YOON: “I’m a woman who lives in Tokyo, who creates and destroys things.”
VERBAL: “I am an alien. Everywhere. Because I’m a Korean born in Japan and educated in the States. My creativity and my drive behind it derives from my ‘alien- ness’. I see things really differently.”
TS: How would you describe what you do?
Y: “I give birth every half-year, because that’s what designing is like. You conceive a collection and carry it in your head for six months, then you give birth and let it live.” V: “Yeah. Just like babies, creativity comes out of passion.”
TS: How did you meet?
Y: “In school, 20 years ago.”
TS: What quality do you value most about each other?
Y: “He treats everybody equally. It takes a strength in character to do that.”
V: “Her creativity. Her ideas are super- visionary.”
TS: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
V: “That we can work together and be married.”
TS: How would you describe Ambush’s aesthetic?
V: “Tokyo subculture. But I don’t just mean Tokyo, I mean the way the city borrows from a lot of cultures – like punk, skate and hip-hop. Ambush reflects that. We breathe the Tokyo air but our output is a mixture of things.”
Y: “Yeah, I think we’re postmodern. I think that’s our aesthetic.”
TS: Describe your own aesthetics.
Y: “Sexy tomboy.”
V: “Whatever matches my shades.”
TS: Your favourite thing about Kim Jones?
Y: “He’s such a child in how he’s curious about so many things. That energy rubs off. Also, his humility – he hasn’t changed since day one. And I like that he likes animals, because I like animals, too [Laughs.].”
V: “I think he has a beautiful soul. He’s really humble and really curious. When he’s in Japan he’ll find the best flea markets that sell the best denim that we’d never find, even though we live here.”
TS: Who’s your favourite musician right now?
Y: “Lauryn Hill. Her first album changed my life.”
V: “This Japanese band called Yahyel. They’re these up-and-coming kids – their sound is so unique.”
TS: What’s the last song you listened to?
Y: “Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush.”
V: “David Teie. He makes music for cats. Soothing music for irritated cats.”
TS: Style is…
Y: “An extension of yourself… ”
V: “Yeah, being yourself. You can just wear a shabby T-shirt but look cool. James Dean probably wore a $1 T-shirt but looked cool.”
TS: What is the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?
Y: “You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing.”
V: “It’s hard to translate, but ‘giving is winning’.”