adidas Originals by Ji Won Choi Fashion : Beazley Designs of the Year

Q&A with Ji Won Choi

The Design Museum speaks to Ji Won Choi about her collection for adidas originals, which is nominated in this year's Beazley Designs of the Year. Choi's garments draw on elements from traditional Korean clothing, known as hanbok, that uses exaggerated silhouettes and architectural forms. The clothes feature a striking palette of lilac, red, navy and green to reinvent the brand’s iconic three-stripe motif, whilst her second collection revisits the monochrome colour scheme used in adidas’ first tracksuit.


Q: Tell us about the collection in your own words…

A: The concept of the collection was to reinterpret the iconic adidas tracksuit in five different ways, putting my own spin on it. The clothes are full of saturated colours, movement, and embodies both adidas Originals and my brand’s aesthetics. The iconic three stripes logo of adidas is repeated throughout the collection.

Q: What’s really striking in this collection are the silhouettes; could you tell us more about your use of proportion?

A: When I design, my process starts with me sketching the base of the silhouette directly onto a croqui to figure out a balanced proportion. As a designer, I love working with silhouettes that go off the body to create a shape that is more sculptural. I am drawn to creating looks that doesn’t necessarily depend on a human body to fill out its shape, but can exist on its own.

Q: Take us through your mood-board?

A: My mood board consisted of La Muralla Roja in Spain, traditional Hanbok of Korea, classic adidas tracksuits, and images full of saturated colours.

Q: You managed to secure such a prestigious collaboration a year out of your BFA. How did this come about?

A: adidas reached out to be after seeing my work on Instagram! It was really as simple as that, and it really demonstrates exactly how powerful social media is in this day and age.

Q: What made you want to work with adidas? Do you have any early personal memories of the brand?

A: When adidas first reached out to me for a collaboration, it had been an immediate yes, I didn’t even have to think about it for a second! To have the chance to work with such a global and iconic brand was a chance I couldn’t pass up on. adidas is such an iconic brand that everyone, anywhere in the world knows it and recognises it. I don’t have a specific moment in my life that I discovered adidas, I think it’s such a brand that is just a part of everyone’s lives

Q: If you could bring back one piece of iconic streetwear, what would it be? And what would you firmly keep in the closet?

A: I LOVE the exercise gear from the 80s, colourful leggings under bodysuits I can totally see a variation of that today. I just love fashion from the 80s in general, except for the leg warmers. Leg warmers are one of the worst things to have existed, and they should never come back!

Q: Which look in this collection is most you?

A: Every look in this collection is my baby and they are all very me! If I had to choose one look to save in a fire though, I would save the lavender look, because of how clearly one can see both adidas and my signatures in the look.

Q: The adidas slogan is “impossible is nothing”, what slogan would you choose for your collection?

A: “Go big or go home” has always been my motto, I don’t do subtle and I definitely don’t do minimal!

Q: Why did you decide to create this collection for women?

A: Tracksuits normally are very unisex, but a regular tracksuit is more masculine than it is feminine. I wanted to create a new kind of tracksuits that do have feminine sensibilities and elements in them. This collection consists of feminine tracksuits, but of course men do love and look great in them as well!

Q: What’s the one thing you’d like people to remember about your collection when they leave the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition?

A: I’d like people to remember that clothing is something that is purely functional, and fashion is something that gives us emotion. I hope that my collection brings the wearers and viewers some emotions of joy, excitement, and confidence.

Q: Any advice for a young female designer starting out in fashion?

A: Having a strong point of view and purpose is so important for a brand to cut through all the noise out there. I would also say that in our digital age, we are surrounded by so many talents out in the world, and it’s amazing to have opportunities to collaborate with other artists and designers. I would really use that to my best advantage and influence, and be influenced by people who have different perspectives and aesthetics.

Related exhibition

Beazley Designs of the Year 2019

Discover the most innovative designs across fashion, architecture, digital, transport, product and graphic design from the past 12 months, as nominated by design experts from around the world.