How Jackson Wang Became Fashion’s Most Sought-After K-Pop Star

Date:18 JANUARY 2021

Not even a pandemic can slow down 26-year-old Jackson Wang. The banana bread efforts made by so many of us pale in comparison to his catalogue of work from the past year, which includes fronting campaigns for Cartier and Armani; releasing two solo singles via his company Team Wang, and an album with GOT7 — the band that propelled him to global stardom thanks to 12 number-one albums on Korea’s Gaon chart. Following his collaborations with Fendi and Adidas, he partnered with the estate of French Impressionist painter Claude Monet on a collection of jackets, vests and T-shirts.

Now, half a year after his debut Team Wang collection (or as he calls them, ‘cookies’) simply named The Original, he’s back with his second offering: The Velvet. The all-black, 11-piece collection comprises jackets and vests, round-neck sweaters, T-shirts, handbags, fishermen’s hats, baseball caps and accessories. “The velvet that personifies the entire collection is a fabric full of strength and emotion, yet soft like skin,” Wang explains.

Rather than shoot the pieces on a model, the campaign features an anonymous figure or “invisible man,” which he says, “symbolises the struggle and introspection that [we] face in the self-understanding and exploring process… to finally transform into one’s true self — a sophisticated man.”

With almost 52 million followers across his multiple social media platforms (Weibo, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook) we don’t expect The Velvet to be sitting on the shelves for very long. We caught up with Wang ahead of the collection’s release on 17 January to hear about his design process and his plans for the year ahead.

How did you arrive at the decision to do an all-black collection? “Black gives me a lot of ideas. When I close my eyes, my imagination is limitless — I do not need any outside voices [when I] am deep in thought. We always use the invisible man [to model the collection] because I don’t want people to limit themselves — know yourself and make your own history.”

From releasing solo singles and an album with GOT7 to designing your Team Wang collections, do you have any advice on how to manage time effectively? “It’s non-stop for me. I work round the clock and it’s something I’m used to. The best advice is to be disciplined. It’s important to stay healthy, and train your mind and body. This includes a proper diet and fitting exercise into your busy schedule, even if it’s stretching at night before you go to sleep.”

Last year, you designed a collection in collaboration with Claude Monet’s estate. What do you love about the artist’s work? “This partnership came at a perfect time. It was right after our Team Wang launch in July. When presented with the opportunity and seeing his artwork, it gave me a lot of inspiration and it was a tribute I wanted to present.

“Through this collaboration, we used Monet’s famous painting Impression, Sunrise because the original was being exhibited in Shanghai — the port of Le Havre is substituted by the Bund [waterfront] of Shanghai. The rising sun implies infinite hope.”

What do you love most about the music and fashion industries? “I love that you can be creative and that there are no boundaries.”

2020 was a year like no other. What were your main takeaways from this time?

“It was a year of patience and being focused. Because of travel restrictions and not being able to do a lot of the things we normally do, we took a step back and focused on the important missions in hand, hence we launched Team Wang Design.”

How do you want people to feel when they wear your clothes? “I want them to feel comfortable, confident. A reminder of our brand slogan, ‘Know Yourself.’”

What can we expect from you this year in fashion, music and beyond? What are your hopes for the future?

“In 2021, we will introduce our Cookies 2 — The Velvet. I will be releasing new music in the coming months, which I can’t wait to share. I hope to keep growing and exploring.”