thisisneverthat for HHV
thisisneverthat Is Channeling Global Street Culture, But Putting Korea on the Map
Words: Chris Danforth
Over the last half-decade, the world has collectively been awakened to the quality of South Korea’s creative output, whether that takes the form of K-Pop groups like BTS or BlackPink, award-winning films like Parasite, the country’s unique and utterly delicious cuisine, or fashion brands such as ADERERROR, Gentle Monster, and Anderson Bell.
One such name to have emerged from South Korea is thisisneverthat.
The brand’s technical-leaning designs are best known for infusing performance textiles like Pertex and GORE-TEX, helping thisisneverthat to gain favor with the G.O.R.P. community. In fact, thisisneverthat was one of a small number of brands to be approved for a GORE-TEX license, which came to fruition between 2019 and 2021, via a capsule collection of GORE-TEX INFINIUM and WINDSTOPPER designs. The label offsets its technical offerings with more Americana-centric classics like hoodies, varsity jackets, and even collaborations with cult jam band Grateful Dead, while classic logo T-shirts are also a staple of the brand’s offerings.
Thisisneverthat was established in Seoul, South Korea in 2009, by three co-founders Nadan Cho, Jonkyu Choi, and Inwook Park. Having lived outside of Seoul, residing in cities like London and New York, the brand’s co-founders were naturally drawn to creating an aesthetic that represents global streetwear aesthetics, and a design sense that is truly multicultural, rather than simply channeling a look and feel that would be defined by being from Seoul, or even from Asia. This is also reflected in the brand’s visuals and editorials, which are often set around the world in cities like London and San Francisco, and inspired by vintage magazine editorials from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
In fact, that brand’s co-founders have echoed a sentiment that has been shared by other clothing designers who simply see their brand as a platform for expression. Art, music, and underground cultures from around the world all make their way into thisisneverthat’s ethos, creating a brand that is a mixture of streetwear, workwear, and techwear.
Speaking with Fucking Young , Nadan Cho revealed the meaning behind the brand’s name by noting, “In the early beginning everything I wanted was to create garments I would like to wear but later on, the identity of Thisisneverthat has evolved into a more complex idea. For me, the name denotes a transformation; the transformation of raw ideas into physical form and materials in an unconventional way.”
In the last 14 years since the brand was established, thisisneverthat has also made a footprint in the sneaker space, by collaborating with names like PUMA, Vans, Hoka, and New Balance. In 2002, thisisneverthat turned its attention to a pack of New Balance sneakers, including the techy 1906R and 2002R. Perhaps thisisneverthat’s most favoured sneaker collaboration, the partnership’s canny cross-breeding of technical runners and versatile but unique colorways also helped lift the profile of New Balance as well. Having worked with many of the world’s biggest footwear brands, thisisneverthat has proven beyond a doubt that it deserves its place in the footwear world.
Thisisneverthat exists at the forefront of a new generation of creativity coming from South Korea. Fuelled by a booming tech and automotive industry including Samsung and Kia, the country’s prosperity has allowed for a new wave of musicians, designers, and creatives who have a keen eye for trends, and who are making an outsized impact, relative to the country’s size. Ultimately, thisisneverthat is opening doors for other Korean creatives as well, and helping to inspire future generations of Korean designers.
The latest SS23 collection fromthisisneverthat is available from HHV now.
Visuals: Roberto Brundo