Have you seen the small store on the B4 floor of the Ewha Campus Complex (ECC) right next to Kyobo book store? The small boutique, which vividly displays uniquely designed clothes and eye catching bags, is E:FEEL, Ewha’s clothing brand, that sells a variety of items ranging from accessories to clothes to bags. E:FEEL is the first designer brand in to be solely owned by a university and designed solely by graduate students and professors.
The history of E:FEEL begins with E:GAM, a bag brand launched by the Research Institute of Fashion Design (RIFD) in November 2005. Then, the RIFD launched E:FEEL, a brand focusing on tops, in 2006, and a t-shirt brand called A120 on March 2008, which focused more on casual outfits.
The early days of the brand did not feature anything like a boutique. The showroom was placed inside the RIFD. Everything was uncertain and experimental at first. The faculty members consulted with possible costumers and decided to target college students in their twenties. After thorough planning, E:FEEL finally marked its spot inside the newly finished ECC.
However, unlike E:FEEL’s initial plan to target women in their twenties, the designs gained more positive reactions from women in their thirties and forties, mostly Ewha faculty members. One of the main reasons why the potential consumer have shifted from those in their twenties to those in their thirties and forties is because of E:FEEL’s high price. A short sleeved t-shirt with the Ewha logo is 10,000 won, a short sleeved t-shirt is 39,000 won, a long sleeved shirt is 59,000 won and other shirts range from 100,000 won to 300,000 won.
“The customers are usually faculty members because of the rather expensive price. But the price is relatively realistic since E:FEEL is not a large scale manufacturing company that can lower the cost per item by producing more clothes,” said Ann La-jeong (Fashion design, 2), who works as an intern at E:FEEL.
What makes E:FEEL truly unique is that graduate students and professors are in full charge of the whole procedure of making clothes, from design to production. The main designs are done by graduate students majoring in fashion design during their project classes. During class, students prepare designs for each season and make prototypes under the guidance of the professors. When the samples are done, the designs are sent to the research institute to be produced.
According to Byun Hye-jung (Fashion Design, 4), who participates in designing and producing procedure of E:FEEL and A120, it was a huge sensation to actually meet consumers with E:FEEL clothes on outside of Ewha, alumnae who demanded E:FEEL to be delivered overseas and E:FEEL fans who take careful notes on the E:FEEL catalogue before they order the clothes.
E:FEEL has received lot of help from experienced Ewha alumna to reach it present place, where its the target consumers are women in their thirties and it has its own outlet and its own systemized process of designing and making clothes. “At first, I thought E:FEEL would not draw a lot of attention, but after I worked as an intern here for a month, I realized that many faculty members enjoy coming to E:FEEL to look at the works of professors and students,” said Ann.
Now, E:FEEL is seeking to spread its influence outside the school. “E:FEEL has only been an experimental shop to allow graduate students to practice and show their designs, but through thorough research and experience, E:FEEL is considering a long-term project to enlarge the brand,” said Kim.
Byun said, “Even though I had two years of experience working as a designer, I have never participated in the production of clothes from beginning to the end like I have at E:FEEL. I could learn to change my design according to feasibility and the demands of consumers. I think designing and learning at E:FEEL will allow students to have a firm base when we make our own brands in the future.” By Nam You-sun
By Nam You-sun