The first Coach Ambassador for South Korea, Yoon Chan-young, talks about the brand’s history, its widespread success since Netflix’s “All of Us Are Dead,” and dressing to express your authentic self.
With every big breakthrough in K-drama series comes a rising international star: Meet Yoon Chan-young from Netflix’s hit ‘All of Us Are Dead’, a zombie apocalypse thriller that’s been proven worldwide. Most recently, the 21-year-old was named Coach’s first brand ambassador for South Korea, joining Jennifer Lopez, Michael B. Jordan, Jeremy Lin and Köki as the face of the global Coach family.
“I was very fascinated at first to hear about Coach’s story,” Chan-young says of the brand. “I could see that there were many different types of items that Coach offers people. So I think it would be really meaningful for me to carry on that legacy and continue to study the fashion brand of Coach.
For Coach’s Spring 2022 collection, the pieces can be summed up in three words: colourful, optimistic and energetic. The line features a range of patterns, from denim to florals and bright, bold hues that tend to pop in the spring and transition smoothly into the summer. With these designs, Chan-young debuts in the brand’s Spring 2022 ready-to-wear campaign, which also includes the Hitch backpack, an accessory that pays homage to Coach’s rich heritage.
Chan-young shares that for him, fashion is a way of telling a story. So it’s fitting that as an actor whose roles vary in demand, Chan-young channels the characters he plays and their personalities through the clothes he wears. For him, fashion is not just about clothes. It’s a way to reveal pieces of himself to the world – a way to tell people how he really feels, without words.
“The clothes and their styles really help portray and express the character,” Chan-young explains. “So I always keep in mind what I’m wearing and try to relate to the character I’m playing in a given role.”
Between celebrating his belated birthday and teaching him the Malay word for “thank you,” we caught up with Chan-young about Coach, fashion nostalgia and his future, and what it takes to be an “Oppa ” Nowadays.
What was your very first experience with Coach?
When I was in elementary school, my mother had a Coach bag. So that’s the first impression I had of Coach. Coach has never been an unknown brand for me. But I would say that my first real meeting with Coach was when I had just finished filming “All of Us Are Dead”. I received a Coach leather bag as a gift – and it was the very first personal Coach item I’ve ever owned.
What’s your favorite Coach piece right now, and why?
There’s this T-shirt that I wore and really like. It’s a black T-shirt with a bunny design on it, and I wore it for a photoshoot for that. [Spring 2022] collection. It’s really cute, and the best part is that it’s also made of organic cotton. So not only does it have a great design, but it’s good for the planet. From the moment I saw it, I thought, “Oh, this is definitely for me!”
Could you tell us about your personal relationship with fashion and how it has transformed throughout your career so far?
Ever since I was in high school, I really like looking at different types of clothes. Then, when I was training to be an actor — of course, I still have to practice — I preferred the more “comfortable” look. ‘Over fit’ outfits and ‘street’ looks were what I liked to wear. But at the same time, when I felt good, I liked to dress up. For example, if I was going to a party, I would wear shirts and ties. I just like looking at different fashion styles and studying them. And that’s something I’d like to continue doing, with Coach in particular, to continue exploring all the different styles.
In what ways does Coach’s brand philosophy align with your personal values? In other words, what do you and Coach have in common?
The goal of the Coach brand is the courage to be real. It definitely lines up with one of my own personal beliefs and values, which is that there’s a certain strength that comes from being authentic – your ‘true’ you, your natural self. So that’s one thing.
Another of Coach’s brand values is to “ask what if”. It really encourages curiosity, and at the same time, it’s a value that promotes diversity. So I think those kinds of Coach beliefs and values are some of the commonalities that I can find with myself in this brand.
You are the first South Korean to be an ambassador for Coach. How do you envision the brand incorporating your culture or personal values into its future?
Coach is a global brand with a long history and heritage. It has luxury items rooted in its own deep tradition, but at the same time it has its trending items, like when it collaborates with other brands to adapt. So I think you can combine the two together, and one of the roles I play is to do just that. I want to combine the two and promote them, so that people from all walks of life, young and old, can enjoy them and learn more about them. I think that the younger generation, like me, can also help promote this diversity with my support. If I can achieve that, I think it would be worth it.
How would you describe your current personal style compared to that of the characters you’ve played so far?
I personally believe that fashion truly represents and expresses one’s lifestyle and emotions. So I think fashion can help me express my “color”. There is this Korean saying that “clothes give you wings”. This means that depending on what you wear, you can look even better as it would help you express yourself. Whether it’s in personal life or with my characters, styling really helps bring out the personalities even more. So I always pay attention and think about what I’m wearing and then use that to connect with the character I’m playing.
You’ve certainly become famous since Netflix’s “All of Us Are Dead.” How do you feel about gaining more recognition and publicity after the worldwide success of the series?
I have received so much attention and love since being able to express myself in this role, and I am very grateful for it. I feel really good about myself. I have also become more confident about the next steps I want to take, and about what I say and do. But at the same time, I feel a greater sense of responsibility. So, I tell myself that in order not to feel pressured with all this, I should try harder and try harder.
Finally, what are the final do’s and don’ts of becoming an “Oppa”?
I think becoming an “Oppa” depends a lot on how you look. What I mean is the way you look on the outside – you have to be really clean and tidy. You should shower frequently and wash your face. Wearing perfume would also be a good idea, but the most important thing in all of this is that you shouldn’t wear this style all the time. It’s only when you meet that special someone. You should save this kind of style for a very special day.