Goom Heo is The Emerging Menswear Designer Crafting A New Kind of Sexy
When designing their final collection at Central Saint Martins, where does one find initial sources of inspiration? Forgotten nights clubbing in the depths of East London? Maybe the visual codes of mundane hometown style as an apt starting point? Or perhaps potbellies and rubbish on the side of the street? The latter are the sort of obscure images that occupy the mood boards of Central Saint Martins menswear student Goom Heo, whose MA collection nabbed her the L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award at the big CSM MA Fashion show during London Fashion Week, as chosen by the Machine-A founder and our good friend Stavros Karelis.
Hailing from South Korea, Goom lived stateside, in Springfield, Illinois before coming to London to kickstart her design career at the prestigious art college. “I didn’t know I was interested in fashion at that time. I was in high school playing in a football team,” she explains. “I love both living in Springfield and London. London gives me creative energy and my friends who inspire me are here.”
Approaching the end of her time at CSM, she looked towards a wider picture. “The starting point of my MA collection was asking myself a question: why can’t people dress up crazy or immensely weird and still be treated or considered normal,” Goom says. “I think of people who would wear my clothes and want them to still to be treated and considered normal, not odd or funny.”
At the CSM final show in February, the bulky proportions of her BA collection were deflated in favour of body-hugging leotards, appliquéd with jet black codpieces that gleefully toy with the male form. “I had to put something inside of the garment to cover the genital area as those pieces were too tight” Goom admits. “I thought ‘why not to put them outside rather than hiding under the garments?’”. A jester-like silhouette, with a sci-fi twinge, can be seen through technicoloured Palio scarves lining the leg and arms, complemented by thigh-high mohair socks and square-toed ankle boots. Wispy layers of chiffon wrapped around the torso form translucent capes that danced as the models sauntered down the catwalk. Tailored to gather at the centre of the chest, forming deconstructed motifs, layered over knitted body suits, royal blue clown collars and visible underwear. Super sexy if you ask us.
Goom specialised in womenswear for the first three years of her time at Central Saint Martins, ahead of a sporadic change onto menswear. “Before I started my final year of BA, I was already quite bored about it even before I started,” she admits. “So I knew doing menswear for my final collection would be something new to me and something excited as I’ve never done it before”. An array of disproportionate stocky fits that made up her BA collection won Goom the L’Oréal Professionnel Talent Award back in 2017. Blown up outerwear, brash in both wool and satin, walked alongside an assembly of second hand t-shirts sewn and piled together. It was as chaotic as it was brilliant.
Despite a drastic shift in proportions, Goom’s approach to making clothes hasn’t altered too much transitioning from her BA to MA, “I’ve learned to have a different perspective on my work so it made me be more precise, I wanted my garments to look exactly how I wanted them to be when I was presenting to people who see my work”, she says. There’s something pleasingly off, yet awkwardly sexy with Goom’s designs – in a Martine Rose type of way. The houndstooth printed black long-sleeves, teamed with teeny-tiny neoprene shorts that she debuted, are off-kilter, yet subtly erotic. Leaving the doors of CSM for good, what does Goom have planned next? “I’d love to start my own brand,” she says. But don’t knock the possibility of seeing the designer head to an established house, as she explains over email, “I’m also open to working for someone as long as it allows me to be creative and do something fun”.
“Heo brings that multicultural conscious to her approach in designing. She is a brand ready to enter the world of retail” says Stavros Karelis, the Machine-A founder who awarded Goom with the grand prize back in February. “Her garments are designed to challenge convention, they floated through the space inviting people to wear them. Her brand will do extremely well in the future to come, as her vision is strong, and creates that new form of menswear which has little to do with gender but a lot to say in terms of shape, construction and making”. Her work is playful, yet divorced from the feeling of looking daft. And it’s bound to fly off the Machine-A rails as soon as it hits the store. Goom Heo – whatever you decide to do next, we’re watching you.
Look book photographs by Zhuo Chen.
Photo by Jason-Lloyd Evans