Julie Byun, Founder/Designer for Hawkster Life
Why did I start HKL
As a child, I made up a brand called “Extasy Jeans” and was constantly playing store with my little siblings. I think I always knew I wanted to create something.. ‘cool’.
Fast forward to 2010.. In my marketing role with various beauty companies, I had the amazing opportunity to attend many seasons of runway shows at NYFW that gave me great insight and appreciation into the fashion world. And living in Manhattan, I am always in view of the city’s vibrant streetstyle, a constant source of creative inspiration. Being at the pulse of fashion whether the people walking into the subway station or at NYFW – it was no longer my goal to sit front row but instead, create something special and have a show one day of my own.
My personal style has always leaned more preppy and boyish than feminine and my love of sports – that likely stems from my Dad’s early career and fame in baseball – also influenced my decision to pursue mens sportswear. The burgundy penny loafers in grade school and my high school obsession with Mens Ralph Lauren polo jackets (I owned one in nearly every color) — SOMETHING to bring swag and individuality to my 12 years in Catholic school girl uniforms for me — were menswear items. In 2013, I attended a WWD-sponsored conference on next generation menswear trends. I heard the likes of Thom Browne, Billy Reid, Gucci and Opening Ceremony – and the conversations only reaffirmed there was an opportunity to extend my creativity to a historically more conservative space that was recently evolving by my personal fave, streetwear. And this is when I decided, it was time for me to create that something cool.
In the next year, I revisited a 90s Japanese anime classic and was inspired by the movie’s protagonist Shinji who is a shy unassuming boy who has the power to save post apocalyptic Japan as a pilot of an Evangelion robot. A Hawkster, essentially. I bought a sewing machine, taught myself how to sew and created my first line of sportswear sweatshirts and jackets inspired by the characters, colors, romance and epic themes from the anime.
My first point of validation came from a NYFW experience when I asked an unassuming but fashionable streetstyler to try on the first jacket I made and he not only obliged, he actually loved it! Even if one person liked my work felt good enough for me. I was ecstatic. How could I bring more art and romance to sportswear? How could I continue to make people feel like they were wearing something cool without going overboard. This is the niche I want to fill. For the classic-minded sports enthusiast, with a streak of creativity. For the Hawksters.
What am I up to now
I am currently preparing the business of starting a fashion brand. There are a ton of bases to cover. In the meantime, please enjoy some of my first handmade concepts, and follow my journey on @hawkster_life. I hope you will support me one day.