TROA introduces traditional Korean paper artistry transforming mulberry bark into luxury jeans.
TROA is a fashion house started in 1966 in Seoul, South Korea. Troa Cho started out by selling needles door-to-door and teaching herself to sew, but eventually transformed her company and her brand into a fashion powerhouse in Seoul.
Her son, Han Song, was a political science major at NYU, and had no intention of entering the clothing industry. However, he was always a thoughtful and philosophical student with a passion for music and art. His mother started to study his "doodles," recognized a true raw talent, and showed him how to transform his art into fashion. Song established his own name as a highly celebrated couture designer (he was featured in Elle, Interview and W, to name a few). He was highly regarded for his details and lines that flatter women's figures. He was named Fashion Designer of the Year by the Seoul Fashion Council and designed the national uniforms for the Asia Games.
But in 2004, a category-changing concept began to take shape. Song started experimenting with a traditional Korean fabric, hanjisa, and centuries-old natural dyeing techniques. He appreciated that the fabric and process were ecofriendly, but also loved how the fabric was able to hold the natural dyes so beautifully. He did experiment with other ecofriendly fabrics like hemp, but nothing could come close to the look, texture and softness of the hanjisa. Over 8 years, he developed a soft and luxurious fabric with the hanjisa and natural dyes and created a denim like no other. And now, Song is considered the world's leading expert in hanjisa. He has even created an entire collection that he showed at Paris Fashion Week, where he was able to make hanjisa look like silk and leather.
But in 2012, he decided to enter the global denim market. One of the most established and cluttered categories in fashion, premium denim, has been infiltrated by brands from all over the world. It was a huge risk for Han to even attempt to enter. However, he was confident that his hanjisa fabric could turn the category upside down. The colors and textures stand out from the others. They are soft and light, but yet insulate in cold temperatures and wick away moisture in heat. Women wear jeans every day and with TROA, they can finally have only natural fibers and natural dyes hugging their skin. Denim companies across the board are making efforts to reduce the water footprint of their jeans (one traditional pair of denim can use 500-1000 gallons of water per pair). However, no one can come even close to TROA's hanjisa fabric, using less than 1% of that per pair. They are even naturally anti-microbial, requiring fewer washings.
In Fall 2013, TROA debuted jeans, exclusively at Barneys New York in the U.S. and in Japan, and Colette in Paris. TROA's first two seasons introduced the fabric and colors to the world, in somewhat basic denim fits, including skinny, cigarette and bootcut. However, the most popular Crosby, TROA's version of the moto jeans, do highlight Song's attention to detail and his beautiful lines. Beginning in Fall 2014, Han will start to incorporate more of his own design aesthetic with his highly regarded attention to detail and his futuristic and ultra-flattering lines that are architectural yet feminine. Song has always been inspired by the future with clean, but soft lines. He loves that he is blending his futuristic vision with some of the oldest traditions in Korea - hanjisa and natural dyeing. Celebrities and fashion icons have started to take notice. And with the ever versatile "miracle fabric" combined with the deeply thoughtful and meticulous hand of designer, Han Song, the possibilities are endless.