Gallatin student and Embodied contributor Laura Jung has teamed up with her sister Seline to create UNIFORM, a clothing line of basics that is effortless and affordable. Comprised of comfortable t-shirts and slick leather jackets, the line offers pieces you'll want to incorporate in your everyday look.
Interview by Devyn Olin
Tell me a bit about yourselves. Laura, what year are you in at school and what are you studying? Seline, what year did you graduate and what did you study?
Seline: I graduated in 2014 with a degree in journalism with a concentration in international relations at Boston University. So basically there’s nothing in my background that suggests I’d start a clothing business, but fashion has always been my side chick.
Laura: I’m currently a junior at Gallatin. I went in wanting to study fashion business, but now I’m focusing on the intersectionality of various art mediums within a global context. When people ask me what my concentration is, I tell them: globalization, consumer culture, and entrepreneurship. UNIFORM is kind of my concentration in the flesh.
What prompted you to start UNIFORM?
S: It was a combination of things, but mostly stemmed from the realization that a lot of items in our daily wardrobe were made and designed in Korea that we never saw anywhere else in the world. Another big reason is the sheer unaffordability of high-quality clothing, both by old and new brands. We know that most women would love to own a leather jacket from, say, Acne, but could never actually buy it. We wanted to find a way to remedy that.
L: I knew from the earliest stages of high school that I wanted to start my own fashion start-up and e-commerce really seemed like the thing for me. Gradually over time, I became aware of various disruptions within the fashion industry, and I wanted to be a part of it.
What is the essence of the brand?
S: UNIFORM’s essence is everyday luxury. With the ideal of every day style turning more and more blogger-editorial, we understand that there are women out there who want their very basic wardrobe pieces to not only look good, but also look expensive. The problem is that exorbitant prices get in the way, and that’s where we come in.
Why the name “UNIFORM”?
L: We like to think that our pieces anchor a woman’s wardrobe to create an everyday uniform that they wear day after day. Although the word ‘uniform’ connotes sameness, we believe one’s uniform can most definitely reflect one’s personal style with the combination of well-designed and high-quality pieces. We want people to feel like our pieces make up their uniform: consistent and reliable, but still allow one’s personal style to show.
Where is everything made and what materials are you using?
S: Everything is proudly made in our motherland, South Korea, and we are using some of the best materials and blends around. We think it’s important that all of our t-shirts are luxurious but casual at the same time. Our materials are all-natural, relatively sustainable, and feel amazing. One of my favorites is the linen-Tencel blend in our ‘Seline’ tee. Our jackets are made of 100% lambskin, which is extra-soft.
L: Throughout the entire manufacturing process from the materials, to the actual products, to the labels, and down to the tags, we’ve found that Koreans are not only extremely dedicated to craftsmanship, but they are also very efficient. We are so lucky to have relationships with the manufacturers we have there.
L: Affordable luxury. Some of the most coveted pieces out there are unfortunately unattainable for our target demographic, so we are pricing all of UNIFORM’s pieces at competitive prices. We are direct-to-consumer, cutting out the markup that so many retailers include.
If you could describe the brand in three words what would they be?
L: Classic, minimal, accessible.
What is it like being sisters and doing “business” with one another?
S: It’s honestly great and preferable in my opinion; it helps that we’re completely different individuals so we fulfill different aspects of the partnership. It’s also immensely helpful that we can fight, disagree and shoot down each other’s opinions without any qualms and it’s never going to be awkward. No wariness of social cues necessary when dealing with your sister!
L: There is really no one else that I’d rather be doing this with because I’m 100% comfortable with expressing all of my thoughts and opinions with Seline. We balance each other out in so many ways.
What are your individual uniforms? And, if you had to build an outfit out of Uniform pieces what tee and jacket would you each pick?
S: I’m loving long-sleeve shirts lately, so my go-to outfit at this time of the year would be our Devyn tee tucked into a pair of high-waisted jeans with white sneakers or black boots. And I’d top it all off with our Cropped Moto jacket or a giant faux-fur coat that makes me look like Sasquatch.
L: I’m not sure if I’m in a bit of a fashion rut or if I’m just a loyal ambassador of UNIFORM, but my go-to outfit lately is a pair of black jeans, a form-fitting black turtleneck, and our Classic Moto jacket to keep me warm. I wear these with my Adidas Superstar sneakers or my black Dr. Marten chelsea boots. Seriously fulfilling the New York stereotype of an all-black outfit...
What is it like being a student entrepreneur? Any hardships? Tips for others?
L: It’s both incredibly exciting and stressful. I love that I have the NYU and Gallatin student community to support me. I feel like I’m surrounded by people who are always interesting, motivated, and entrepreneurial -- It’s very inspiring. Obviously, it’s also very stressful balancing schoolwork with UNIFORM. Before our launch, I was starting my junior year and I have never been more stressed and overwhelmed in my life. I’ve thought about taking time off from school, but it’s too early to gauge that. Being as young as I am now is actually comforting because everything I’m going through now will prepare me for whatever is to come in the future.
To all aspiring entrepreneurs, all I have to say is just go for it to the best of your ability with the resources you have at hand. That’s really what entrepreneurship is all about. Take everything as a learning experience so that even the worst of times will feel beneficial in the long run. If you truly love what you do and are passionate about it, you’ll have fun every step of the way.
What would be your end goal with Uniform?
S: For now, our goal is to continue to sell more beautiful pieces from Korea at price points that women feel they can afford. I can’t wait to continue scouting to see what’s out there that we can offer.
L: I would love to see our products in highly-esteemed stockists in New York, and eventually throughout the country. I also have this vision for UNIFORM to have a wide range of products, as well as be a marketplace for independent designers from around the world who don’t have a platform to sell within the U.S.
Originally published 12/09/15