Amsterdam’s YUME YUME recently launched a capsule collection with cutting edge artist Kate Ahn, offered at the Art’s District Gallery Space Terminal 27 with Ahn’s solo exhibition, “OH NO IM N★KED!”
The collection represents the shared values of Ahn and YUME YUME creative director Eva Korsten, who prioritize a labor of love and self-expression in their creation. Consisting of three signature styles, Kate’s illustrations drape over ‘The Fisherman’ boot, painted with Kate’s collection of ‘Mini Me’s,’ crafting a colorful dimension synonymous with YUME YUME’s style. ‘The Camp’ shoe is designed with Ahn’s ‘Laced’ work, which are cloudy-blue visuals tied with bows of fine blue ribbon. The last of the three shoe designs is the innovative ‘Love Heel,’ a spin-off of YUME YUME’S heart-shaped pump with Kate’s ‘Nudles’ artwork.
YUME YUME also created two one-of-kind designs from their ready-to-wear Autumn Winter 2023 collection, an oversized shirt-dress decorated with the same ‘Mini Me’s’ that cover ‘The Fisherman’ boot and a puffy dress with open back details and a drop waist taffeta skirt accompanied by the ‘Laced’ work.
On her collaboration with YUME YUME, Kate says, “As a young girl, I quickly fell in love with dressing myself, because it was one of the first forms of expression that taught me the confidence to be myself. There is no other feeling when I find the perfect pair of shoes to bring an outfit together. And that feeling is exactly what I felt when I first got a pair of YUME YUME’s. So when Eva asked me to work on this collection with her, words cannot explain how excited I was. Just like my own work, I know that we both want to help create a world where being and expressing yourself is worth it and so liberating.”
Flaunt spoke with YUME YUME’s Eva Korsten about her journey with her own creations, her work with Kate, and how the inspiration she finds in everyday life translates into her own designs.
You co-founded YUME YUME in 2020–what was it like to launch a business during the pandemic, and what have you learned since releasing your first collection?
Because we started during that time, we didn’t have anything to compare it with pre-pandemic. It was Paris Fashion Week just before the lockdown and that’s when Dover Street Market and LNCC in London placed an order – our first international stockists. And from that moment onwards, it grew to the brand that it is today where we work with amazing stores all over the world, we never imagined that everything evolved this way so quickly.
We’re 3 years in, from 2 people to almost 10 people working on building our business. And it has been a steep learning curve so far. There are so many aspects across the business, from sales, brand image, design, production, relationship building, etc. It’s great to see how something we envisioned and felt was missing within the industry is a viable business. We want to take people to our dream world, via footwear as our first category, but the bigger goal is to have a size-inclusive head-to-toe offering.
What are the most important factors that go into the process of your designs?
Creating something unique, that is not seen before and has a surprising factor. Some people might have to get used to our designs – they find it even strange or ugly. I love to surprise people and show them something they are not used to – I think this is a very important aspect because it might challenge people to shift perspective from looking at something strange to seeing originality, not only in our designs but in all life around them.
Who and what are your creative influences, and what does your creative process look like?
Most of our designs come from the world around me. I could get inspired by a random shape I see in the streets or a situation that gives me a certain feeling. For example, our Tyre slide is inspired by a folded bicycle tire that I saw in the streets of Amsterdam. Our Love heel came to life during the lockdown when I had an urge to go dancing and spread love.
What is your first memory connected to your love of style and shoe design?
I was raised by my mom and grandmother. My mom has always been very practical about clothing but we used to create a lot of things ourselves in and around our house, this is where I got my technical eye for construction and creation. My grandmother treats fashion and style the opposite way from my mother and she has the most beautiful closet. From a very young age, we spent a lot of our weekends strolling through the city and looking through all boutiques to find treasures.
How do you define beauty, both in your physical shoe design as well as in everyday life?
For me beauty balances on this very thin line. It has to be not too perfect and a little edge but not go too far into imperfection. I love when something strikes me as an interesting element. Could be a shape, a color, a facial expression – something unique.
Can you tell us about your collaboration with Kate? What is it about her art that speaks to the aesthetic identity of Yume Yume?
I was drawn to work with Kate because of her fierce individuality. To me, her work symbolizes a way of self-expression that celebrates the pure beauty of who you are but at the same time is playful and fun. We aim with YUME YUME to build an open artistic space that attracts creatives from different fields. Together we can keep blurring the lines between art and fashion by pushing our boundaries beyond the ordinary, rethinking everyday life, and co-exploring new concepts.
Kate picked 3 of her favorite styles and used them as a canvas for 3 of her artworks. The Fisherman boot showcases the ‘Mini Me’s’, featuring the artist’s symbolic illustration draped across, bringing a colorful dimension to our classic YUME YUME style. The Camp shoe mid has a blue cloudy patterned ‘Laced’ print overlay with bows made of fine blue ribbon. The Love heel demonstrates the directional spin on our heart-shaped heeled sandals with Kate’s ‘Nudles’ artwork.
How did you decide on Terminal 27 as the space to showcase this as well?
Kate is currently having her first US solo exhibition “OH NO IM N★KED!” in the gallery space of Terminal 27, this gave us the perfect opportunity. We are very excited to be included in one of the rooms to show our special capsule to a wider audience.
Is there a design you’re most proud of, or perhaps was the most difficult to execute, from your most recent collection or collaboration?
We are launching our very first ready-to-wear collection this Fall. This was a new and big challenge for me and our team. We learned a lot during the process. I am so proud of us that we made it happen and showed it during Paris Fashion Week last March. It is one thing to have a nice idea or imagine a design but to actually create a ready-to-wear collection while staying true to our brand’s ethos and message. It brings me joy that we’ll be able to dress people, hopefully, to make them feel beautiful and free. Like our footwear, this collection is size-inclusive, we designed this collection for everyone who feels drawn to it. Our Autumn/Winter 2023 collection ‘Dramatic Poetry’ will be launching on SSENSE and also Margreeth Olsthoorn in Rotterdam, in our home country. I’m so excited to see people wearing our designs – that will be a very special moment!!
Do you have a favorite era of fashion, art, or technology?
I would say a combination of modern contemporary art and architecture with a mix of the romance and drama of the Art Deco era. Combining fashion with art, design, and technology keeps me interested. Fashion does excite me a lot but fusing art and technology keeps me interested – it adds another layer to the process and craft. Purely creating something that can be sold easily would never give me personal satisfaction. I need to be challenged and add feeling in my work, for me looking at and creating art is about a feeling by experiencing the artwork. Finding new techniques challenges me to have a new view on something, to be better, and do better in the future.
If not for yourself, who do you create for? What purpose do you believe artistic creation serves?
The word ‘yume’ means ‘dream’ and ‘vision’ in Japanese and the reason why we chose to name our brand YUME YUME is because we created our brand for the dream builders, the people who dare to imagine and construct their own surroundings rather than purely inhabiting them. We envision that the YUME YUME wearer is a sensible one, a curator if you will, that pays attention to details in the objects they acquire. They use fashion in a conscious way to build their identity and want to stand out from the crowd. They value originality.
What do you do in your downtime to keep yourself inspired?
I can get inspired by anything around me. To take everything in, to get inspired, I need to be able to be present in the moment–see, feel, and experience the things happening around me. Running the operational side of a brand can get in the way of inspiration quickly. I just need to have a lot of sleep. I dream very intensely to process everything.