Defyant’s Dare to Be Different


As of Thursday, November 30, 2017

After running a basics apparel company and working on music documentary projects, Joe Jihoon got the opportunity to take over the streetwear line Defyant. He hesitated because he didn’t know where he could take the brand. Then he took inspiration from the brand’s name.

“Because we are Defyant, we’re going to defy conventional wisdom and create our own thing,” Jihoon said. He acquired the brand for an undisclosed amount in early 2015 and spent a year or so helming a brand that experienced success before the ownership change. Its website ( still shows pictures of music stars such as Snoop Dogg and Justin Bieber wearing Defyant caps and T-shirts.

Yet in 2016, Jihoon put the brand on hiatus. Supported by savings and funds from the basics company Genesis, Jihoon took a year off to think what he could do differently with a streetwear brand and how he could make a statement with the brand.

Earlier in 2017, a rebranded Defyant took a bow. The new style was high-end streetwear. The brand’s styles would be guided by these questions: “Is like there anything in the market like this?” and “Would we have worn this 10 years ago and will this style be wearable in 10 years?” If Jihoon is satisfied with the answers to those questions, he makes the garments.

Looks include a drop-crotch carpenter’s pant. Like a typical pair of carpenter’s pants, there is a “hammer loop,” ostensibly to hold tools. Unlike other carpenter’s pants, Defyant’s garment features hems that fall just above the ankle and a back pocket bearing different colors.

Other garments feature a “kung fu” camouflage design. Instead of offering camouflage shapes, Defyant shows hunter green, purple and lime figures in kung fu poses. The design is reminiscent of camouflage.

T-shirts and hoodies remain part of Defyant’s style. However, they feature unique embroidery and graphics. Some feature erotic art of ancient Greece and Japan’s Edo period. The graphics bear the somewhat sardonic slogan “Ancient Porn,” Jihoon said.

“We wanted to pay tribute to ancient Greek and Japanese art,” he said. “We think these erotic arts are still relevant today,” he said. “But they’re only available in museums. We wanted to bring them into the street scene.”

Under Jihoon’s leadership, Defyant will not be released in traditional seasonal collections. Rather, collections will be released in various capsules, or “drops,” which will not follow the traditional seasonal calendar.

The rebranded Defyant has been sold in Los Angeles boutiques such as Brigade and Hue. It also has been sold at Dreams on Air in New York and online retailers such as Garmentory. For more information, contact

Photos courtesy of Defyant.