H&M x Rokh: Power Dressing Gets a Playful Makeover

In their latest designer collaboration, H&M teams up with rising Korean label Rokh to deliver a collection that reinterprets classic tailoring with a contemporary twist. The collection features deconstructed elements and customizable details, empowering wearers to express personal style. Here, Rok Hwang, Creative Director at Rokh, discusses the inspiration for the collection and his design process with H&M’s Head of Design Womenswear and Creative Advisor, Ann-Sofie Johansson. Together, they reveal the hero pieces that capture the essence of this unique partnership and the focus on quality and wearability that’s core to H&M’s vision.

Ann-Sofie Johansson & Rok Hwang

Rok Hwang, Creative Director at Rokh

Can you talk about the inspiration behind your collaboration with H&M?

“Well, I always take inspiration from the world around me—there’s a very timeless, versatile side to my clothing that is inspired by real-life situations—and I’ve always found workplaces very inspiring in particular. Looking at the women working around me, everyone was always working really hard, from my mother to Phoebe Philo when I worked for her at Céline. For me, the aspirational woman is always a working woman, engaging life in full force. The collection with H&M has this attitude, but it also brings together some of my best-known designs, such as the double-trench for women and the multi-button trench for men, the belts which add an edge to any look, and the corsetry pieces. Each piece can be worn in multiple ways, they’re designed to slot into the existing wardrobe.”

What was the design process for the collaboration? Where did you draw inspiration from?

“We had an initial Zoom meeting with the H&M team to discuss how we could deliver Rokh to the world last year. What was rather special about this collaboration is that H&M wanted it to be really true to my aesthetic and the codes of Rokh. I designed the collection in different cities, then communicated with H&M, we would speak about the details, then I would go to the Stockholm atelier to engage with the fittings personally. We visited Stockholm quite a few times as this collection was coming together as I like a hands-on approach. I worked really closely with the pattern cutters, accessories and design teams to make sure each piece was perfect. I focussed a lot in this collection on high-quality materials and fabrications that will wear well and last for a long time. I’m specific about the fabrics that I use, and H&M really did a lot of research to make that happen. They’re such nice fabrics – including organic cotton, RWS-certified wool, chrome-free leather, recycled polyester—and I’m very happy with how they turned out. And during the process, it was almost self-realisation, decoding what I had done in the past. I was looking into my own archive and falling in love again with the details I had created in the past.”

      Your pieces are often described as conceptual and wearable. How do you strike this balance?

      “I think it’s all in the cut. I drape things, I like to cut things on the human body. And I like to really engage with fabrics. That’s something I feel very strongly and personally about it—the way I touch the material, and drape, that hand touch will be delivered in the final product. We pay so much attention to fabrics, cut and details. And I also feel that my designs are very versatile, so I hope that they will suit lots of different body shapes and personalities.”

      What are some of the hero pieces in the collection that best represent the design collaboration between you and H&M?

      “This collection is really true to the Rokh codes, iconic looks and signatures. The double trench is a key design for us, it really stands for Rokh from our earliest days of development and is our most recognizable piece. What I love about it is that it can be quite radical but it’s actually really timeless—just like the button trench for men, it can be customized according to your own personal style. There are other repeating themes—corsetry, dresses with hook-and-eye hems that can be adjusted, double-wrap belts – but the trench coats are the key pieces.”

      Is there a piece or pieces in the collection that was particularly rewarding to design? Or see the end result of?

      “I personally got very excited by the file bags! I am very organized and I can’t wait to have them in my studio to help organize all the collection notes.”

      Ann-Sofie Johansson, Head of Design Womenswear and Creative Advisor at H&M

      What was the most inspiring part of collaborating with Rokh on the collection?

      “We’ve been keeping an eye on Rokh for a few years now, and what we fell for was designer Rok Hwang’s unique way of working with tailoring. His designs are very inventive and quite conceptual in some ways, but still very easy to wear, which is a balance our customers love. For us, it’s super inspiring to be able to work with emerging talents, especially those like Rokh who have a very recognizable aesthetic that’s at the cutting-edge of fashion, but with pieces that are also versatile and easy to wear. On a personal level, I have to say that Rok and his team have been such a pleasure to work with. He was very generous, sharing his key pieces, and he has very strong attention to detail that meant that each piece feels really special and considered.”

      What are some of your favourite pieces in the collection?

      “There are so many great pieces, it’s almost hard to choose. The trench coats are the instantly recognisable Rokh designs, they’re great as they can be worn in lots of different ways according to your own personal style. I love the studded blazer, I think it’s got attitude but is also easy to slip over a T-shirt and wear with a pair of jeans. I think the belts are fantastic—they lend a kind of punkish element to a look without overpowering it, and they’re easy to combine with existing pieces in your wardrobe to get the

      Why was Rokh such a natural fit for H&M and this collaboration?

      “In terms of our collaboration strategy at H&M, we always like to have a mix of established houses and less well-known, more emerging labels. It’s important to us to be able to support and lend our global platform to young talents in the fashion industry and introduce their work to more people. We felt that Rokh had established a very strong identity in a short space of time. The brand also has a very international perspective, which aligns well with our philosophy at H&M. Rok’s designs are very influenced by different cultures, because he was born in Korea, has lived in the US and studied in London, and is now showing in Paris, so he has a very international perspective that aligned with our international customer base. And as I mentioned, Rokh has a unique ability to create conceptual fashion that is also extremely versatile and easy to wear, which is something we’re always looking for at H&M. We feel the collection is something that will surprise and delight our customers and we can’t wait to release it.”

        View the gallery below for a closer look at the collection.

        H&M x Rokh will launch in selected stores and online at hm.com on 18 April 2024.