Founded in 2018, POST ARCHIVE FACTION’s (PAF) is an experimental brand based in Seoul, South Korea. I had the pleasure of speaking to the Creative Director & Co-Founder Dongjoon Lim. I got to ask him questions that came directly from our community! You can read and listen along to our conversation below:
For those who might not know the brand and its history, what is the idea behind the name Post Archive Faction and what does it mean to you?
POST- means “After”. We can find it from Post-Modern.
ARCHIVE is Archive which means having enough value to be preserved.
& FACTION, I brought it from politics. A group of people from the mainstream. So pretty long name, POST ARCHIVE FACTION. And I prefer to call it PAF because it is easier.
Did you study any form of design in the past?
Yes, I did. I studied industrial design in Seoul for a couple of years. Thankfully I was exposed to talented people and design works inside and outside of school. Some people that I met are now team members or collaborators. We are growing up altogether. And I learned the process of designing and developing products back then. It affected me to approach our garments as products rather than a mood-based approach.
When did you begin conceptualizing your brand, and when did you know it was the right time to start?
I have a short period of time professionally working as a brand designer. Over the time, Maybe… I thought that I could do better than other existing brands in the fashion industry. And somehow, it didn’t take much time for me to decide to start my own. I just started it. I believe there’s no right time to start your own journey.
I think, “The fastest way to learn how to swim is to be inside the water, not on the ground.”
As for the brand’s rapid growth, did you have any preconceived ideas about how you wanted to grow your brand or the methods you used to get your work in the public eye? Or was it a matter of letting the clothes speak for themselves and do the work?
Yes, I prefer to let clothes speak for themselves – our core value is to make real things.
However, I’ve directed the brand to go beyond fashion brand. Garments are one of the media that we could do best. However, eventually, we are trying to make a universe. And to see the new world, we need new garments, objects, furniture, spaces, and stories.
This season is the first collection where you’ve used sheer fabrics, if I’m correct. PAF is synonymous with strong, solid colors. What made you decide to use this fabric and how do you think translucent pieces fit into the PAF uniform/archive as a whole?
You got the point! – One of the features of PAF is strong and solid colors & materials. And we would keep some accent colors for the future collections. And yes, 5.0+ is the first collection that we start exploring sheer fabrics. I appreciate your recognition. I wanted to create new emotions and visuals with the latest collection. Like, we needed vacation from our previous collections, which were usually described as strong and solid. So we designed so-called “Technical Vacation Wear” – soft, mystic and relaxed. The translucent layers expose hidden structures of garments and overlap with human bodies. It sounds so ironic to me because “Technical” and “Vacation” do not usually go together. So it’s hard to visualize the concept. But that’s why 5.0+ was unexpectedly great.
What is your favorite piece of 5.0+, or what item do you find yourself wearing the most?
Technical Jacket Right in Silk fabric. Ironically it’s not technical though. But this Irony gives some newness that I never had before with our previous technical jackets. The silk material dramatically changes the entire mood of the clothing and its original function.
When designing a new product, and especially with a new material which you maybe haven’t used before, how do you know when a specific item is finished? Is it a natural instinct you have as a designer, or does the process involve peer-reviewing with the people you work with?
It’s the result of a combination of both – instinctions and rationalisation. The first moment is usually very personal and instinctive. But I guess this instinct has been cultivated through all of my previous experiences and emotions. But, after my personal impression, I definitely bring it to our team and review it one by one or all together. Then we make decisions to develop details to create final products. Basically it’s the process of persuasions – First myself, then internal team, then our audience, and then the industry.
In the past, you described it as an “Evolving Uniform.” This uniform is divided into the brand’s subsections: Right, Center, and Left, using the known derivation of political ideologies to break up your more conservative design from your more experimental. How do you see the PAF uniform evolving in the future?
When things are evolving, I guess there’s no plan but it fully focuses on adapting to new environments. Purely for survival. So my answer at the moment is – I don’t have a specific plan or image of the future of PAF to be honest. It will be ever-changing or ever-adapting.
I know that certain pieces, for example, the 3.1 cross zip nylon jacket, can be moved from the Center to the Right. In that case, do you see the ‘Center’ of the brand slowly becoming more avant-garde? In terms of experimental versus conservative, if you had to say, where is this Uniform ‘evolving’ to?
We are trying to expand our design capabilities. To do that, we need all three – Right , Center, Left. since they influence each other, allowing us to explore new designs. Experiment or “avant garde” is one of the results. It’s not the final destination of the brand. I can say that defining experiment and conservative is a matter of time. Yesterday’s avant garde becomes conservative in today. Some conservative “timeless” design lives forever and considered differently as time goes by.
Since 3.1 there have been features of exterior taped-seam designs on jackets, and in 4.1+ the styling of layering fleeces with technical trousers predicts a lot of the way people style outdoors and technical clothing today. Have outdoor clothes always been a significant touchstone for your designs or is it one of the many design languages that influence your work?
I love outdoor wear. It is one of the many design languages that influence my work. Because outdoor wear is functional. I like those functioning details beneficial to our life. But of course I also love artistic or classical fashion like suit, dress, etc. which symbolise something beyond function and metaphoric. It gives us some room for imaginations.
Your pieces merge incredibly well with outdoor pieces, like the vintage slip-on Salomons you used in the lookbook of 5.0. In terms of the uniform evolving, in combination with the Outdoors, could you see PAF evolving in that general direction?
Not really. I love “outdoors”. but Like I mentioned earlier, “outdoor” is one of the ingredients that we use for our collections. There are so many things to learn, for example, materials, techniques, and even mentality. And I’m trying to embrace them selectively for new collections.
Could you see PAF expanding its studio practices into things like interior or physical art and sculpture? You have said in the past that you would want to be an architect if you weren’t a designer. What would be the closing thing you could create whilst joining these two interests? For example, what would a PAF sofa or chair look like?
You made a right expectation. Yes we are trying to expand our practice to creating objects, furniture, and spaces. We already designed some of these and you would see them released in the near future.
As for exploring different aesthetics perhaps, could you see yourself taking over a different brand as a creative director in the future if you were offered the opportunity?
Yes Please, call me haha – I’m open to collaboration or directing brands. First come first serve
Are there any brands that you’d like to collaborate with in the future through PAF?
There’s something coming but can’t say more just yet and we are even non-fashion brands like e-sports team. And we loved those experiences. They have their own history, and infrastructure supporting us to move beyond our limit. Both teams grow through the collab and that’s what I always love.
You’ve described your entrance into the fashion industry as like the Korean TV Program called, ‘If You Started the Game, Don’t Stop Till You Become King,’ that you ‘jumped into this industry unprepared’ without any notion of ‘turning back’ as you put it. PAF, since then, has risen to such enormous heights. With the brand’s constantly evolving uniform, can you envision a finale of the uniform, the design reaching its peak and metaphorically becoming ‘King’?
First of all, the official title of the TV show is <From Start Till Clear> – just to be clear. Honestly, I don’t have any specific image of “finale of the uniform.” And there couldn’t be a final form of it as long as we, humans, exist. The word “fashion” represents everything - is relative to its time, people, and so on. However, I have some references in mind as a final form of some categories. Like archetype level of products.
Check out & Shop PAF’s most recent collection on PostArchiveFaction.com