The “ready-to-wear,” “ready-to-smoke” clothing brand, Sundae School, has taken on a new identity with the launch of its new collection, titled Ddul-sunbi, which roughly translates to “weed scholar.” The smokewear brand, which aims to bring higher education to address misconceptions about cannabis culture, imagines traditional Korean scholars using cannabis to explore new intellectual highs, a seemingly impossible bridge between two worlds that never previously crossed paths.
The SS19 collection, which ran on Men’s New York Fashion Week’s this summer, features earthy color palettes on traditional Korean hanboks. The hanboks, of course, come with the necessary Sundae School twist of appendages for keeping lighters, papers, and more.
The introduction of academia to the world of cannabis is not just a temporary fix for Sundae School. It’s part of a larger rebranding initiative, spearheaded by designer Minryung Son, who has experience working with notable clients such as Sotheby’s and Fondazione Prada – an institution for contemporary arts and culture based in Milan.
For Son, the objective was clear: to bring a new visual direction that would solidify Sundae School’s mission of irreverence and higher education. “For me, the new brand identity brings a mixture of boldness and playfulness, with a touch of Asian motifs, which emphasizes Sundae School’s core mission while also presenting a clear promotion of their brand,” says Son.
The new brand takes cues from traditional academic elements such as grid paper and science beakers, but brings an “irreverent” twist with spliffs and other popular elements from cannabis culture. The new brand continues to pay homage to its Korean roots, with the use of traditional ornamental patterns and the tiger – a sacred creature of good fortune in the country.
Sundae School has taken on a bolder stance with its rebranding. Previous collections had kept the pot references to a minimum, subtly designing a small loop inside a cap to fit a pencil or a spliff, for instance. Now, Sundae School’s mission stands out much more clearly, with a new mark which incorporates the Korean character for weed in a traditional flower, and apparel that prominently displays cannabis-influenced puns, though in a tasteful way suitable for everyday wear
While Son focused on designing the new identity, Kim worked on Sundae School’s new website, translating Son’s work for the online shopping experience. The new website brings look books, as well as a variety of media and other resources for new and returning customers, creating an experience designed to not only sell, but also to educate others on cannabis culture.
“Sundae School’s online store is its first impression for many customers, and also the company’s only storefront,” said Kim. “We knew we wanted to build the website to create an experience that would go beyond just traditional online stores.”
The newly created image of a weed scholar advances Sundae School’s mission of inspiring proper education about recreational weed and rejecting stereotypes about the age-old herb. With time, the smokewear’s new collection and identity may fulfill the brand’s ultimate goal of eliminating judgment against the currently all-too-taboo subject of cannabis culture in Korea.