Under the Radar is Highsnobiety’s weekly celebration of upcoming talent. Each week, we’re spotlighting a underground brand that’s bringing something new to the worlds of streetwear and fashion.
Sundae School is a New York/Seoul-based smokewear brand challenging stereotypes of both stoners and Asian-Americans with its cozy streetwear for a cannabis-inclined audience.
Founder Dae Lim sees Sundae School as a way to highlight the changing dynamics of the cannabis industry as well as a means to amplify the marginalized voices in the community. "We call our customers 'honour rollers' because it's really to push for a higher education", says Dae, "spreading awareness about all the information out there about burn culture and really to just be a better person through enjoying the weed."
Dae explains smokewear as "a uniform for your recreational marijuana consumption". Sundae School has two lines, the first, called 'Uniform', is focused on streetwear staples of hoodies, caps, bucket hats and graphic tees. "We like to think of a T-shirt as a billboard that you wear" says Dae. These tees are tongue-in-cheek, i.e. "SMOKING CHILLS" on the back of a sweatshirt, and the BIC lighter logo redesigned to read 'LIT' on a white 6-panel cap (also with a strap for holding joints at the side).
The second line, "Collection", is more fashion-focused, re-contextualizing South Korean garments into unique, street-style-ready fits. For example, the pinbok top from their second drop, a luxurious denim pinstripe top with "LIGHT UP" & "ROLL UP" stitches on the sleeves was inspired by the Korean Hanbok.
"It allows the amalgamation of that traditional Korean silhouettes but interpreted in a whimsical manor, with cool tech-inspired materials and Western tailoring techniques that we introduce together" says Dae.
As Dae explains, the MO for Sundae School extends beyond just upgrading the dated " lazy bum-fuck surfer" aesthetic of stoners. Sundae School is elevating the voices and talents of Asian-Americans and in particular, what Dae refers to as a largely invisible, "yellow counterculture". "For us, everything is kind of whimsical and not so serious" he says, "but we do want to incite conversation about serious topics but not in a serious manner."
"I am that typical calculator hitting, glass-wearing, Asian dude, but I also smoke weed", says Dae, "we really wanted to express our take on Cannabis Culture as Asian-American's. Our designs are really rooted in Korean traditional culture, but also it really celebrates the American trope-cache that we grew up with."
Dae reflects on the snowballing effect of young Koreans who are finding liberation in disrupting the status quo right now. "In Seoul, because of Eastern, Confucius ideals, a lot of the times, youth culture and a lot of counter culture is deemed very taboo. Freedom of expression is not as guaranteed and is not as celebrated as it is in America or the other Western Worlds."
It's easy to see how Seoul's energy can be inspiring, the nascent youth movements are comparable to some of the countercultural revolutions that took over the US in the ‘60s. The main difference is this time there's the internet to allow these disruptions to reverberate globally, "the counter-culture and the youth culture in Korea is very raw and it's proliferating, especially now, and it's almost more exciting than other cities because its so new. It's only a decade old or so."
As Dae mentions, a significant amount of businesses emerging, and indeed flourishing from recent cannabis ventures are overwhelmingly male, and white. "It's really basically run by white men, whether it's their investors or whether it's the founders right now" says Dae, "We are people of color, our shade is yellow, but we wanted to showcase our experiences of how we design and function for the different cannabis all around the world."
On this note, Dae mentions that Sundae School will be releasing its own branded cannabis products in the very near future , "we are working really hard to test the different profiles and give a yellow flavor to the cannabis industry."
4/20 just happens to be Sundae School's one year anniversary and they're celebrating with a pop-up gallery to release the new GPA.420 merch as seen above, "it's a way of saying thank you to everyone for keeping the business afloat and to showcase and bring together the community in the city."
The gallery will highlight the work of female asian artists with Asian-American DJs and Asian-American drag performers, "it's going to be a night where we celebrate yellow counter culture with a lot of green horticulture as we will be hotboxing the gallery". If you're in East Williamsburg you can find more information about how to attend here. You can also catch them presenting at New York Fashion Week later this year.
In other cannabis news, check out Highsnobiety's new documentary High End, which looks at how Luxury weed products are changing in 2018.