K-pop past has helped my fashion label, says former Girls' Generation member Jessica Jung

After leaving Girls' Generation, Jessica Jung will focus on her fashion label and take on other show business projects

American-born fashion entrepreneur Jessica Jung wore an outfit from her new label at the press conference.
American-born fashion entrepreneur Jessica Jung wore an outfit from her new label at the press conference.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

Singer-turned-fashion entrepreneur Jessica Jung cannot deny that her nearly decade-long K-pop past is an advantage for her budding fashion label Blanc & Eclare.

"I have been working in this industry for a long time so people know my name, they know me.

"I think it's easier for people to accept the fact that I have a brand and they know I have a brand now. Of course, that's a huge advantage," Jung, 26, told Life in an interview on Thursday.

She was in town to promote the brand, which is available at multi- label fashion store Salon by Surrender at Marina Bay Sands.

As much as she would like to distance herself from her ex-pop group Girls' Generation - her management tried to muzzle all mention of Girls' Generation for this interview - her star power was apparent. More than 100 fans waited outside the store that day to catch a glimpse of Jung, creative director of Blanc & Eclare, which she started last August.

Some fans Life talked to admitted that they were fans of Girls' Generation, the hugely popular K-pop group that Jung was with until last year. They had no qualms spending $350 and more at the store for a chance to meet her at a signing session. Blanc & Eclare items range from $150 for a simple T-shirt to $430 for a pair of sunglasses.

Jung officially parted ways this month with SM Entertainment, the agency behind Girls' Generation. Last year, she was ousted from the group, allegedly for making the band play second fiddle to her fashion ambitions.

Having closed that chapter in her life, she says "one learns lessons all the time" and adds: "I said it before in an interview, I kind of learn to let go and understand."

She intends to carry on her entertainment career and "juggle it right" . "I've been doing it half of my life. Entertainment is definitely something I would keep pursuing. I'm not like saying 'Oh I am a designer now'. It's not like that," says the American-born Korean, who is now based in South Korea.

"I'm going to balance things out and slowly work my way. Now that I need to be a solo artist, I'm very selective of what I do."

One of her latest show business events was physically challenging - she is seen swimming in the trailer of an episode of the Chinese sports reality show Yes! Coach.

She says: "I've never really swum in front of fans or in front of the camera, for crying out loud. So it was kind of a challenge.

"I do like swimming. I'm not really that good at it. That's what made the show kind of fun. I'm not really that good, but I'm trying."

There is a dramatic moment in the trailer when she is saved in the pool by her coach, Chinese Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang.

Recounting the tense moment, she says: "I had cramps in my leg and I drank a lot of water. I'm not a professional swimmer so it was hard to go from one end to another."

She has been a guest star on food travelogue Chef Nic, hosted by Hong Kong actor Nicholas Tse. On her social media account on Weibo, she posted a photo with Tse, accompanied with the caption: "You can really cook, Chef Nic!"

"He cooked for us, we cooked together and it was a nice experience in Hangzhou. We had traditional food," says Jung, who enjoys cooking Korean food in her free time.

Judging from her recent project choices, it seems that she will be spending much time in China in future because of the huge market there.

She plans on taking Mandarin lessons. "I am learning a little bit. But I need to pick up more. It's really hard," she says.

Even when she dons the hat of an entertainer, her fashion label is very much a part of her life.

She wore Blanc & Eclare jeans - which she says are "comfy" and have an "awesome" fit - on the variety shows Yes! Coach and Chef Nic.

Although the svelte Jung is the best model for her own apparel line, she says that wearing her outfits is "not exactly" to promote her brand.

"If you have a pair of pants that you made and a pair from a different brand, which one would you wear? The choice just comes naturally. I did make my clothes for my own taste."

Indeed, she adds that her own style is reflected in her brand. "Our brand has a classic aesthetic to it - it has a modern classic twist. I think we might stand out with the little details and not overdo it.

"It's kind of my style. I like that kind of clothes. I wish girls like me will enjoy the products. You can wear it every day without being too fancy, not standing out too much."

Regarding her upcoming plans, she was tight-lipped, saying only: " I have time to do what I want to do. I think it's about time to pursue what I really want and really like. I can't complain at the moment. I'm very happy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2015, with the headline 'The day coach saved K-pop star in the pool'. Print Edition | Subscribe