SAKU New York is a women’s contemporary brand, based in NYC. SAKU showcases garments that seamlessly integrate New York’s chic aesthetics with femininity, adhering to our signature style which we proudly refer to as “Femi-casual.” While being a unique, never-seen-before style, SAKU offers clothes that are ready-to-wear and easily approachable by any one. SAKU’s creative director Lissa Koo has been working in the field for 12 years and have been awarded as a Golden A’ Design Award Winner for Fashion, Apparel and Garment Design Category in 2015. Golden A’ Design Award is a highly prestigious design competition based in Italy known for being the biggest in the world. We sat down with founder Lissa for a quick catch up.
How did Saku begin?
I received my Bachelor's degree in Textile and Clothing and Christian Studies with a minor degree in Business Administration in 2005, at one of the most prestigious universities in Korea, Ewha Woman's. Immediately after completing my undergraduate studies, I worked as a resourceful member of FILA Korea and Eland as a visual merchandiser and a fashion designer. Building off of this work experience, I was able to launch my own online and offline shop, York Avenue, in the busiest streets of fashion in South Korea from 2008 to 2012. In attempts to further enhance my knowledge in fashion production, I moved to New York, where I completed relevant coursework and was awarded the AAS degree for Fashion Design at the New York Parsons School of Design in 2014.
Before devoting my work full-time to Saku, I served as a freelance fashion designer and public relations representative at various internationally well-known brands: Skin Worldwide, Zimba Collection, and Etro. In September of 2015, I finally launched Saku New York.
Throughout my career as a creative director and a founder of Saku New York, I have been operating efficiently at the forefront of production as well as in business administrative initiatives. Aside from working as Saku’s creative director, I have been working in the fashion industry for 12 years. In 2016 I was awarded as the Golden A’ Design Award Winner for Fashion, Apparel and Garment Design Category. Golden A’ Design Award is a highly prestigious design competition based in Italy known for being the biggest in the world. As of recently, I have been striving to build my career as a successful spokesperson. I have written as a fashion columnist for TenAsia, the most relevant Korean entertainment magazine to date, and have been invited as a guest speaker at one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea, Chungnam National University (CNU).
Have you always been interested in fashion?
Yes, I have always been a supporter of all aspects of fashion, including culture, lifestyle, and style.
What have been the highest and lowest points on your journey so far?
My lowest was when I was first starting out with launching my own brand, Saku. Currently living the highest.
What was the inspiration behind your latest collection?
My latest SS18 collection "Enjoying the Feeling of Awkwardness" was inspired by the feeling of "awkwardness." I found it fascinating that the most influential fashion people are able to shine through and showcase their elegance regardless of TPO. Through my collection, I wanted to express this unconditional embodiment of beauty and elegance.
Do you ever struggle to stay inspired?
I personally believe in the power of information, and specifically in the power of networks, which information about the limitless market industry travels through. I always try to stay inspired by surrounding myself with knowledgeable friends and family.
Where is your go-to-meeting spot?
You can find me at the Red Fleece Cafe located near the Flatiron building, New York City. You will most likely catch me enjoying their cinnamon scone with a couple of my friends or in a business meeting.
How would you describe your customer base?
Saku New York targets stylish women in business ranging from early to mid-twenties and thirties. They love to look stylish both in and out of the office and are fearless to try out new looks.
Is there anyone you would love to see wearing your designs?
A couple of bloggers in the industry have caught my eye: Aimee Song, Dani Song, and Susie Lau.
What are the morals you run your brand by?
Saku showcases garments that seamlessly integrate New York’s chic aesthetics with femininity, adhering to our signature style which we proudly refer to as “Femi-casual.” While being a unique, never-seen-before style, Saku offers clothes that are ready-to-wear and easily approachable by any one.
My father has always been the biggest role model in my life and simply sharing a dinner table with him to discuss his typical day provided me with unparalleled insights and encouragement.
What apps keep you sane?
Instagram and Facebook.
If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why?
Our "Lace Trimmed Side Slit Pants." It is my go-to for all occasions. I could wear it out for a Girls Night Out, a business meeting and a date.
"Too-much look" on my very first date.
Is there another designer whose work you particularly admire?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be Your Self!
What drew you to Wolf & Badger?
As an enthusiast of Wolf & Badger and its work as an indispensable tool for the industry, becoming part of Wolf & Badger was a crucial move forward for Saku to gain exposure. I admired how it serves to reflect the modern face of fashion and supports thriving artists also outside of the major fashion capitals.
Where do you see the brand in 5 years?
I am looking in to broadening our brand presence in the market and possibly opening new flagship stores in Los Angeles.