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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Meet the venerable Jun Kang, Nau’s new President

Posted by leighann | February 12th, 2014 | Filed under Partnerships, Who We Are

JUN_BLOG_IMAGE

You might have heard; we’ve been eating a lot of Korean food lately. We’ve also been busy celebrating the year of the Blue Horse with a spacious new office, beautiful spring line, and—yes—even new owners. The Korean-based, outdoor brand, Black Yak and Nau have officially tied the knot.  

This week in the Thought Kitchen, we’re honored to sit down with  Jun Suk Kang, Nau’s new President, to find out what’s ahead for Nau and Black Yak, what’s going to change, and what he thinks about being voted one of Portland Monthly magazine’s most fascinating dinner guests.

OTG: What compelled Black Yak, a Korean company, to purchase Nau?
Jun: It’s an interesting history. It started with my personal interest in the brand. I was in the States studying in 2006 and 2007 when I discovered Nau and this new concept of merging the outdoor and fashion markets. I really like the brand and kept my eyes on it over the years. Then last year, we found out it was for sale. The most compelling aspect of the acquisition is what we both bring to the table. Black Yak is a leading outdoor brand in Asia and we have the resources and infrastructure to make Nau a global brand. And Nau has a tremendous amount of creativity and innovation. We knew that if these two companies came together, we could do great things.

So it’s a merging of cultures, so to speak.
Oh yes, the cultural aspect is quite important. Because at Black Yak, we are good at long-term planning, organizational structure and analytical decision-making. Once we make a decision, we are fast and powerful. On the other hand, the Nau culture is more creative and idea-driven. It is free and flexible. Black Yak can adopt more of the creative ideation while Nau can adopt more organization and structure, which will be very synergetic.

So now that you’ve had six months with the brand, what aspects of the original vision will remain?
At Black Yak, we believe in Nau and in the overall concept and direction and do not want to change it. However, one of the only things that will change will be Nau’s exposure in the market. We want to deliver Nau to more customers in more markets.

I know a big question on the minds of our consumers is “Is Nau’s view on sustainability going to change?”
The sustainability part is one of the core values of Nau. It’s one of key concepts that sets Nau apart. There is no reason for us to change this or give it up. In fact, I believe we should be more focused on sustainable practices like fabrics, what manufacturers to work with, and how to be sustainable in the retail marketplace.

What’s your vision of Nau moving forward?
My vision is to make sure more people around the world know about Nau, what Nau stands for, and why you should choose Nau. My goal is to make Nau the best sustainable brand in both the outdoor and fashion market. I also want to make Nau the most fashionable brand in the outdoor market and the most functional brand in fashion market.

You recently sent out an email to the Nau team welcoming 2014 as the year of the Blue Horse. Why is this significant?
People in Asia believe that the blue horse represents stability, power, agility, stubbornness, perseverance and independence. It represents the beginning of something new. It’s also a very energetic, auspicious and passionate time to start new things. I have a very good feeling this year will be pivotal in Nau’s history. Bring on the year of the Blue Horse!

In December, you were featured in the Portland Monthly as one of Portland’s most fascinating people and someone they would invite to their holiday party. If we were to invite you, what should we serve?
I’m a big fan of Italian food. I’m also a big fan of wine. And good people, of course. Good food, good wine, good people. Another reason why I love Nau. Lots of great people.

At Nau, we value transparency in every aspect of our business. Do you have a question you would like to ask Jun? Send us your inquiries to thekitchen@nau.com or post in the comments below, and we’ll select a few to feature in our next interview with Jun in the Thought Kitchen.

18 Responses to “Meet the venerable Jun Kang, Nau’s new President”

  • February 13, 2014 at 7:22 am | Jerri says

    I have 3 nau down pieces. 1 mens XL, 1 womens M/L stole & 1 looper scarf. My issue is sizing for women. If Nau is going to reach more people – are you going to start making XL in all womens? And why is nau cut so small for an American brand, a country where unfortunately we are carring too much weight and are generally big!

  • February 13, 2014 at 7:22 am | Linda Whitaker says

    Congratulations I love that the company will remain in business. I had purchased a few years ago the long coccoon coat and get compliments all the time. Will you be making a new one for next year the long version, as so many people have wanted to buy it and NAU has not made in a couple of years. Mine is wearing out especially after this hard winter.

    Many thanks for considering. I am sure you have had many requests.

    Linda

  • February 13, 2014 at 7:50 am | AK says

    I wasn’t familiar with Black Yak before, but this sounds promising — would love to see Nau get more exposure in the marketplace. I ALWAYS get complimented on my Nau gear and would love to see it on more people!

    My question to Jun is whether/how this new structure will affect some of the fit issues that I saw in your merchandise over the past few years? I tried on a lot of things and returned all of them because the proportions were so often off, and I saw a lot of comments to this effect in the product reviews.

  • February 13, 2014 at 7:51 am | Jeremy says

    If my fascination and love for all things Nau could ever be elevated, joining forces with a Korean brand has done that, but is something I would not have dreamed. As a half-Korean, I love supporting Korean brands and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Nau and Black Yak!

  • February 13, 2014 at 7:55 am | Anita Shelton says

    I have not been able to buy any NAU clothing because I am a tall, buxom woman and you don’t make XL sizes in many styles for women and because when you do make XL they sell out really quickly. Will you start adding XL for women like me or, going to a more Asian market where there is less demand will you make fewer? Also, why XL in men’s sizes and not women’s? Anita Shelton

  • February 13, 2014 at 8:35 am | Mike says

    So this is a buy-out from Horny Toad?

  • February 13, 2014 at 9:16 am | Emily says

    Nau has amazing subtle, clean style. Seamless blending outdoor performance with urban chic. However, will it take off globally (especially in Asia) without a prominent logo (The North Face, Canada Goose, Montcler)? I hate to see a big logo on Nau clothing, but maybe a tiny, recognizable snippet of a label might work. Just a thought. Welcome Mr. Kang.

  • February 13, 2014 at 11:38 am | Michelle says

    Glad to hear that Nau will be sticking around. Also relieved that Jun intends to keep Nau a sustainable company. I just recently moved to the Portland area and love that I can depend on Nau for outdoor gear offered in xxs and xs sizes. Looking forward to hearing and seeing more! :)

    @ Emily – You bring up a good point, but I would be bummed if a large logo was used. If it is done, I hope it is inconspicuous like you suggested. One of the reasons why I bought my Nau jacket was because it did not have a logo.

  • February 13, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Jordan says

    I have many nau items and have been happy with every one of them. I keep coming back to brand for its innovative style as well as the trim design in all sizes and attention to fit. I hope that with this merger that attention to cut isn’t lost. Most clothing in the outdoor apparel market are bulky and oversized. Nau has stood out by being cut to fit the body more closely. I hope that with the efforts to expand the market the clothing doesn’t start to align itself to the bulkier cuts of most other brands.

  • February 13, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Olivia says

    I am tall and slim/lean. I am also a cyclist — where my arms are extended on the bike, thus needing a longer arm length in jackets, etc. In a world of bulky, oversized outdoor apparel, it has been *wonderful* to have the smart-looking urban outdoor options from Nau. I own 4 jackets, 2 skirts, and many shirts and have purchased clothes for friends and boyfriends. Thank you so much for your style, cuts, and commitment to sustainability! I hope that your style and slim, flattering cuts continue forward. :)

  • February 13, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Ann says

    Have four NAU items. My favorites are two brown pants style RN119269 with slant zippers
    in front below the waist line and a slant zipper mid thigh on the right leg. Was wearing these pants while cooking and spilled a kettle of boiling water down my front. Thanks to the poly material, I only sustained a tiny red spot near my right knee though a serious burn on my foot where it was not covered by the pants. Surprisingly, the pants were not damaged by the boiling water. This experience plus the great fit has made me a fan of NAU, but I never see similar styles and materials for pants on your web page. As a 69 year old woman, I am not as skinny as your target audience, and have resorted to a man’s NAU shirt for fit. Please consider XL sizes for women in shirts and jackets. Generally avoid wearing clothing and bags with logos so if you have to do it, please keep it small.

  • February 13, 2014 at 11:38 pm | Paul says

    I agree with the previous comment. One of the things that sets Nau apart, and the reason I have so many Nau jackets, is that they fit long, athletic types like myself. It is so nice to find a medium or large with sleeves that fit rather than an overly bulky XL. The same applies to long-enough legs with a 32-inch waist. Walmart and the mall are already full of clothes that are cut for fat people.

  • February 14, 2014 at 12:30 am | Sabrina Louise says

    Congratulations on the merger, and welcome Mr. Kang! This is REALLY exciting. I’ve been following this company for a long time, since it’s beginnings with Chris VanDyke, in fact… I adore the modern style and versatility of the pieces. I practically live outside, and need to know that I can continue to be active in this attire, without looking like I just came down from the mountain. I am complimented on my Nau gear very often, especially on some older classic pieces that have already, or are very nearly worn out. Will you be bringing back some of Nau’s classic staples, such as the M2 asymmetrical tank top, M2 hoody, original chrysalis dress and the M2 half zip? I have stitched them up as much as I think is possible… I’m not sure what I’ll do without them. Also, will you be open to sourcing and developing new ethical, sustainable, plant based materials that function as well as, if not better than, animal based materials? Thank you!

  • February 14, 2014 at 7:45 am | Aliza says

    Please keep the no-logo, clean style of Nau. If you add a logo, it won’t be special anymore.

    Also, I’d like to know if the clothes will still be at Lizard Lounge. I like trying things on before I buy.

  • February 14, 2014 at 9:38 pm | kat says

    I have been shopping with nau since it’s conception et also work in the industry so I have a great deal if concerns of what is going to happen to the company et the ‘brand’ now that it’s original founder will no longer have the the role that has made nau who et what they are. I am horrified at the thought of yet another company that has been known for impeccable tailoring of clothing that fits the body not just drapes it like a sheet. Too many companies in the industry (arcteryx included) have gone from a stylised European fit to what we call chubby American sizing. Like I always say just because they make it in your size does not mean you should wear it. Every brand does not need to be super sized for the typical couch potato non active wanna be who just wants to look the part. I honestly hope it is not the case but I stocked up on as much pre new owner production clothing as possible just in case.

  • February 16, 2014 at 5:20 am | stephen says

    Is the roadmap to include a merging of the Nau and Black Yak items? Offering all items on a global scale?

    One of the things that is most important to me, after the high quality of the Nau items, is the fact that Nau clothing has no logos. The Black Yak items (men’s collections at least) has quite prominent logos. Will logos begin to appear on Nau clothing?

  • February 16, 2014 at 1:15 pm | longfellow says

    Big fan of NAU for many years.

    VERY hard to find on the East Coast; a little bit trickles into REI, but REI isn’t a huge presence in NY / NJ. Buying online is a little dicey due to the variable sizing that so many have already commented on.

    Of course the pieces are expensive too; perhaps broader marketing will lower the price? Because NAU has tremendous potential to reach more people. It just needs exposure, a lower entry cost, and more items.

    Best of luck. Year of the Blue Horse sounds like ideal timing. Cheers!

  • February 20, 2014 at 11:35 am | Hoon says

    Good luck to you both!

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