IISE - Seoul, S. Korea | Skillshare Projects

Terrence Kim

Co-Founder IISE



IISE - Seoul, S. Korea


iise - \ˈē-ˌseˈ\

1. Korean word meaning “Second Generation”

iise is a fashion brand started by two second generation Korean-American brothers that combines urban tastes with traditional Korean influences. We believe that combining elements from the past with inspirations from the present allow for progression into the future. 


It started when my brother and I visited Korea for the first time since our early childhood in late 2011.  Born and raised in New Jersey, we were exposed to our Korean heritage in small doses here and there but mostly through food. Rarely did we see any of the traditional art, design, architecture, or anything other elements of the culture this fascinating country had to offer.

We visited an area known as InsaDong for the first time, a tourist attraction filled with traditional arts, crafts, food, clothing, and even buildings. It was there we saw a Buddhist Monk wearing traditional clothing and rocking an old fabric sack-like bag(things that haven't changed in hundreds of years) walking down a street next to both traditional Korean style homes and also modern, more western style skyscrapers. The sight of seeing something so unchanged from the past juxstaposed with sleek skyscrapers in one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world really blew our minds. We found a small Buddhist apparel store nearby and bought a similar bag and loved the natural feel of the fabric and also how there weren't any buckles but hand knotted straps instead. We had recently also learned about a traditonal Korean organic dyeing method that was also very natural/organic and decided to combine all these experiences into one. And that's when IISE began. 

The duality of our upbringings as second generation Korean Americans and also the experiences we had travelling all over our native country is what inspired us to start this brand. Like most Westerners, we also knew very little about Korea aside from the kpop, korean dramas, and electronics they produce. Even though Korea is one of the world’s largest economic powers, it’s baffling how little is known about their actual culture. The more we travelled, interacted with older generation Koreans, and witnessed amazing traditional culture, the more proud we became of our heritage and felt a strong urge to share these aspects with the rest of the world through our products and story. We officially debuted with our first collection in February 2013. 

Natural Dye Collection

Our fabrics being naturally dyed out in the countryside of Korea

Check out our fabrics being naturally dyed!

After dyeing the fabrics, they are laid out on an open field for them to absorb as much sun as possible allowing the colors to come alive. Because it is so cold, the fabrics freeze while drying and have to be thawed again, before they are re-dyed to produce richer and darker colors. This process of dyeing, drying, and thawing is repeated every 3-4 days for 5 weeks in the winter time in Korea. This is why the fabric gets so expensive, no other fabrics go through such an intensive procedure as organically dyed ones.

Our fabrics dyed, and drying during the winter time. Read about the process below:

We shot our lookbook 1 hour outside of Seoul in a beautiful Hanok style traditional Korean home

We fell in love with this place after shooting the lookbook here

Lookbook location with Korean Jindo Dog

More Behind the scenes from our lookbook location. With Korean Jindo Dog 진돗개

Our Monk Sack (The bag that started it all, directly inspired by that first witnessing of the Buddhist Monk). Ash Black Color: Dyed with Korean persimmon fruit and ash. Indigo Color (Dyed with Korean persimmon fruit, indigo plant, and ash)

Our Daypack 


Other Styles

We combined this organic dyed fabric with the best leathers we can find. Many of the details you can find in our bags are inspired by Buddhist Monk apparel, Tae Kwon Do martial arts belts, and traditional Korean clothing known as Hanbok.

Please check out our Organic Dye Video on Vimeo! We also created the music by sampling traditional korean drums and plucking instruments. 

Our only logo on the outside of the bag are on the straps

A Ja Sal Mun Capsule Collection

A few months after our debut collection, we released a small collection of wallets and cardholders in various colors in June 2013. How we combined the uneven, geometric leather panels on both products was inspired by traditional Korean sliding doors and wooden window frames. 


Card Holders

Packaging (Box, Info Card, and Wax Sealed Hanji paper wrapping)

Please check out our A Sa Sal Mun Capsule Collecton video on Vimeo! Again we produced the music by sampling traditional Korean drums, but this time in a more upbeat, aggressive style.

Although we officially debuted early this year, we will continue to work hard to grow and spread awareness of our story and what we are trying to do. My brother and I have no formal experience in fashion design. I graduated with an English degree from SUNY Binghamton University and he with a Finance degree from Penn State. A lot of what we learned has been from online community forums like Hypebeast, so we are excited and look forward to being part of this Skillshare class with this tight knit group. It is quite challenging to break out from a country like S. Korea so we are hoping to grow internationally, spread authentic Korean culture, and learn and connect with like-minded individuals. We're really excited for this class and this opportunity to meet all of you!

Thanks for checking us out!











Brand pronunciation video: LINK


- Carbon fiber matte black exterior (to match our interior)

- Interior of car lined with hand painted matte black leather (same as what we're using for our next collection!)

- IISE logo emblem

- IISE logo inspired LED Lights

- Dark tinted windows all around

- Simple but w/ great details when you take a second look. Will definitely make a statement when you pull up in one of these!

Organically dyed summer tee


- Organic dyed shirts are more breathable than regular cotton

- BBQ Smoke/Cigarette smoke doesn't stick

- Good for people with skin rash conditions

Fit: Slighly long/slim fit with slight U-Neck for more breathability

Hides on hides! For our next collection we are working with hand painted and organically treated leathers. These look and feel amazing!

First round samples for new styles being made

Hunting for leathers...

Going all over in search of antique Lotus ring hardware..very rare.

No airconditioning in these oldschool streets of Seoul…sourcing materials in 100 degree weather.

Reviewing our notes at the market while searching for lining

Cool Experience: We were told that we could possibly have lotus rings custom made to our specifications by an old blacksmith in a remote part of Seoul. We looked for over an hour in the heat trying to find his "shop" until we found a small alley we could barely fit through with a small door. We would have totally passed this alleyway had we not heard a steady "ting, ting" hammering noise coming from a small entrance. We walked down to the basement and we discovered this old man sitting in the middle of a room, hammering away. The walls of the room were covered in antique hardware he had made, and the entire room was lit by one light bulb...what a sight! 

We will be visiting him again, and this time we'll try and video record the journey..

After a month searching all over Seoul, we finally found antique lotus rings in the color and size we've been looking for! Korea is westernizing so quickly that many of the antique hardware used in traditional architecture and furniture are no longer in production nor being carried by any stores. 

Regram @biiip Ash Black Daypack. If you have any photos you'd like us to post please send them to us or tag @iiseseoul on instagram!

At the Archive Journal launch party!

Update: We haven't revealed too much on our upcoming collection and feel its time to be more transparent on the process and include yall on what we've been working on since the capsule release. 

We've been testing some washed/unwashed hand painted leathers on our Weekender bag. The mid portion was hot soaked and wrinkled but didn't turn out as textured as we wanted. The matte black leather wasn't as dark as we hoped and could use more of a "sheen". Trial and error. We're continuing to experiment with different leathers/textures for our upcoming collection until we find a combination were happy with. Its proved to be just as experimental working with custom leathers as it was with our organic dye collection. We'll continue to post updates of our sampling journey. Stay tuned. 

New patterns, new designs

Location scouting for our next video. If you haven't seem our first two vids you can check them out here:http://iise.myshopify.com/pages/about-us

New version of our daypack is coming out soon! Here's our original Daypack shot by Minami of Halfwaycrook.com

Filmed 17 hours for a 1 minute video...


Full leather daypack. We played around with the textures on each of the leather panels, stay tuned for more detailed pics!


Playing with different textures. This is a preview of one of our new styles in full leather.


Smooth vs textured leather panels. More previews of new styles coming soon!

Most leather patches on backpacks are diamond shapes but ours is the silhouette of an opened traditional Korean fan.

Older Korean ahjusshis very interested in our new footage. Our next video will go through its final editing today and will be released in the next few weeks! If you havent seen our first two videos check outhttp://iise.myshopify.com/pages/about-us

Antique lotus rings were used in traditional Korean doors, windows, and furniture. We are using them to connect our shoulder straps for some of our new styles in the next collection. These look so nice in person..!

Older Korean ahjushi carving black Buffalo leather for our next collection which releases next week. We'll be rolling out previews until then, get ready.

A week or so left until our new collection is ready for purchase! We ship all our orders express and should get to you in 2-3 business days WORLDWIDE! Final date and preview photos will be posted until the release, just in time for the holidays. Stay tuned!

If you didn't get a chance to get our cardholders or wallets, we'll be releasing them both in a lovely textured black Buffalo leather. All our products will be produced in limited quantities!

Almost all ready to go.

Traditional Korean fan silhouettes and buffalo leather strips for production.

The full leather version of our daypack are releasing in less than a week!


Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends/family in the U.S! Another preview shot of one of our newer styles.

This detail on our leather straps was inspired by the collar found on traditional Korean clothing called hanbok. You'll find this on our weekender, briefcase, and daypack styles. Few more days until the release!

Amazing textures on our new cardholders made from jet black Buffalo leather!

Our jet black pouch can fit your 13" laptop or your tablets and other everyday accessories. Because of the random textures on every buffalo hide, each piece in our collection is one of a kind..similar to our Natural Dye Collection. Collection goes live in just one more day!

Our Weekender was the first style to sell out in our Natural Dye Collection. Here is the updated black Buffalo leather version with the antique lotus rings. Again every style is made in extremely limited quantities!

We're working out some stuff on our website but we'll launch within 24 hours, stay tuned!

IISE Fall Winter 2014


Antique lotus flower rings were originally used as door and furniture handles in traditional Korean design. We’ve utilized them to function as our shoulder strap attachments for some of the styles in our new collection. Everything is made from a luxurious black buffalo leather sourced from Argentina. Each piece of leather used has it owns unique texture, cut from different parts of the buffalo hide making every piece one of a kind. All styles are produced in limited quantities.

Buffalo Daypack - Black


Buffalo Minimal Tech - Black


Buffalo Weekender - Black 


Buffalo Briefcase - Black 


Buffalo Tote - Black 


Buffalo Pouch - Black (Fits 13" laptop)


Buffalo Wallet - Black 


Buffalo Card Holder - Black 


Buffalo Lighter Case - Black 


Perfect for holding your laptop or tablet and other accessories. The different textures of each panel make this pouch look awesome in person!


Our new video is up! 

IISE’s Fall/Winter 14’ collection draws inspiration from the diverse boroughs of Seoul. The city is home to traditional hanok architecture, sleek skyscrapers, gritty pavements, and the timeless prestige of the more oldschool areas that all embody the essence of IISE. The music was sampled with the sounds of Korean instruments and set to the beat of this restless city.


Buffalo Minimal Tech Pack -the perfect everyday bag. Get your orders in as soon as possible to receive it before the holidays!


Green Tea and IISE. All the ceramics were made by our mother.

Our Buffallo Weekender is one of our most popular styles. Christmas is next week so get your orders in now!


We had a great time with Jeff Staple, Skillshare, and the rest of the top 10 teams yesterday. Ended the day at Katz Deli, a must go place in NYC!

Beautiful textures on the buffalo leather daypack! Shop for yours at http://bit.ly/1g2F1Xi

Check out our friends at @solsolmenswear with our wallet out in South Africa!

This is Bukchon Hanok Village, one of the most popular tourist locations in Seoul. We cleared out this street for 1 minute to film our video by telling everyone it was footage for a travel television show. If you still didn't see our video check it out here: https://vimeo.com/81376448

@notpenk with the IISE Buffalo Weekender! Shop yours at http://bit.ly/IqdDUS

When we filmed in the graffiti tunnels in Sinchon, Seoul. Follow us on instagram! @iiseseoul

Side profile and texture closeup of the IISE Minimal Tech Backpack. Available now in limited quantities at http://ii-se.co/

Ash Black daypack from our Natural Dye collection

Ash Black Daypack. We’ll be re-introducing some pieces from the Natural Dye collection and also adding some new styles…stay tuned!

Natural dyed Korean fabrics

Searching for the perfect buckles amongst thousands of pieces. Working on new stuff!

Our Daypack

New natural dyed fabrics. We are currently sampling lighter colors for Spring/Summer. What other colors would you like to see us use?

DETAIL: Under the "Made In Korea" text are the 4 trigrams of the Korean flag. 건(geon) represents - sky, spring, east, humanity, father, heaven, justice. 리(ri) - sun, autumn, south, justice, daughter, fire, fruition. 감(gam) - moon, winter, north, intelligence, son, water, wisdom. And the final trigram 곤(gon) - earth, summer, west, courtesy, mother, earth, and vitality. These Buffalo leather patches can be found on the inside of all our styles and the exterior of our laptop case! 

Our Buffalo leather Weekender bag withstanding the snow 

Crimson wine natural dyed fabric samples came yesterday. We're currently testing these with the highest quality leathers. More preview pictures coming soon.

Comparing this vegetable tanned goat leather to the buffalo leather on our Minimal Tech. Buffalo daypacks are currently sold out but we'll probably remake them with this textured goat very soon...leather feels awesome.

Stamping logos onto new samples. New styles coming soon!

Buffalo Weekender. We will be releasing these in natural dye soon!

Big lotus rings and baby lotus rings. We'll be combining these antique accessories with natural dyed fabrics and leathers in our next collection. New styles will be introduced as well!

PREVIEW: New natural dyed silk/cotton + leather accessories. Expect all the styles in the next collection to come out in ash black, indigo, wine, and ivory!

Our M2 Indigo backpack in the streets of Laos..beautiful country!

Lotus rings were originally used in traditional Korean door handles or window pulls. We used them to connect our straps on our Weekender and Briefcase styles. Http://ii-se.co/

New colors coming soon for our wallets and cardholders!

Natural indigo laptop case sample. These will also be available in ash black, ivory, and wine in the future.

Sampling new goods

We've just created a mailing list! By singing up you can stay up to date on the latest product releases, free giveaway information, and important updates. As always we make a limited number or product so it's a great way to be one of the first ones to know when new stuff is available before they sell out! Sign up here:


Full goat leather daypacks will be ready real soon. We are making a limited run of these because the Buffalo daypacks sold out so quickly. To be the first to know when it drops, visit http://ii-se.co/and subscribe to our mailing list!

IISE in Archive Journal Issue #1

The whole idea for IISE came about when we visited Korea for the first time since the 4th grade 2 years ago. We saw a Buddhist monk wandering around in front of us wearing a sack like bag with knotted straps and in clothes that haven't changed in hundreds of years. Watching him walk the next to sleek skyscrapers but also traditional korean hanok architecture was amazing and inspiring. We made our first version of the IISE Monk Sack shortly after.

A still from our last video. Still haven't seen it? Check it out here: http://ii-se.co/pages/about-us

Strap detail is inspired by the collar on traditional Korean clothing called Hanbok. You’ll see this on our shoulder straps on our weekenders, briefcases, and daypacks. Oh some new colors too.

Final samples for new natural dye collection will be ready soon!

New business cards

Cherry blossoms are almost at full bloom in Seoul!

Daypack - Black VT Goat

Full vegetable tanned black goat leather now available in limited quantities. 



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