Tag: smoke and mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors: Korean Smokewear Brand Sundae School Challenges Stereotypes

Korean American brother-and-sister duo Dae and Cindy Lim are an Asian parent’s dream on paper. (I know this because I, too, have Asian parents.) They attended Ivy League schools (Cindy, 21, is a senior at UPenn; Dae, 24, graduated from Harvard). They’re great at math (Cindy is studying economics at the Wharton School and Dae majored in applied mathematics). They have not forgotten how to speak Korean (they visit Seoul frequently for work and pleasure). And they’re hardworking with the accolades to show for it: Their Seoul-made, New York-based streetwear brand, Sundae School—a side hustle for the two founders—has already been featured in both the pages of Vogue Korea and on Vogue.com.

Sundae School was conceived as “smokewear,” a term coined by the siblings to mean “apparel for smokers and especially stoners.” There are handy little spliff holders on the hats, for example. But for their second collection, out October 1st and currently on pre-sale, Cindy and Dae are adding another item to the agenda: showcasing the possibilities of Asian counterculture that they themselves know so well.

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Welcome to Sundae School

Profile: Korean Smokewear Brand Sundae School Challenges Asian Stereotypes | LeaflySundae School founders Dae and Cindy Lim. (Courtesy of Sundae School)

The debut collection, Chapter 1: Genesis, was released on 4/20 of 2017. It consists of embroidered patches, T-shirts, denim jackets, caps, a tin box (for your stash), hoodies, and long-sleeve shirts emblazoned with pithy references to Korean American culture and witty puns like “Smoking Chills” and “Honor Rollers.” The business partners and siblings, who spent the summer living in apartments within walking distance of one another, smoke spliffs together while working on the brand every night.

They’re not only pushing against stereotypes of the straitlaced Asian nerd, but also smashing preconceptions of the stoner as an ambitionless, directionless slacker. Cindy aims to be a venture capitalist after college graduation; Dae was a former McKinsey consultant whose current day job is Head of Growth at VFILES. Their conservative Christian parents disapprove of them consuming cannabis, but it’s way too late to stop them now. Their brand derives its name, partially, from their Christian upbringing attending Sunday school. Dae does the design and Cindy manages the business development.

Profile: Korean Smokewear Brand Sundae School Challenges Asian Stereotypes | Leafly(Courtesy of Sundae School)

The upcoming collection is called When Tigers Used to Smoke, a famous Korean phrase that is equivalent to Once Upon a Time. “We are representing tigers as yellow people all around the world,” Dae explains, noting that Asian people have been aware of the properties of cannabis for millennia. In ancient Chinese medicinal tomes dating back to 2700 BCE, cannabis was listed as a drug. The new collection involves an interpretation of hanboks, traditional Korean garments, updated with fabrics like pinstripe denim and velour to become smoking jackets and pants.

“People assume that Asians don’t know about weed,” Cindy says, but cannabis was commonly grown in South Korea before United States military intervention in the 20th century. “It is not this American thing,” Dae adds. “I’ve smoked weed in Morocco. I’ve smoked weed in Spain. I’ve smoked weed basically everywhere I go.” He even runs an Instagram account documenting his international spliffs.

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Cannabis and Cultural Identity

Profile: Korean Smokewear Brand Sundae School Challenges Asian Stereotypes | Leafly(Courtesy of Sundae School)

Both Cindy and Dae first tried cannabis at preppy red-bricked schools on the East Coast. After a late night of studying, Dae had found several of his schoolmates smoking in the shower, the hot water turned on so that the smoke would travel with the steam. He had never heard of marijuana before. He got “pretty high” that night, from what he recalls as “shitty weed—that white boy Connecticut weed.”

When Cindy tried cannabis for the first time, she remembers not getting high at all. Later, she and her brother took a trip to Pena Palace in Portugal, a 19th-century castle surrounded by almost 500 acres of exotic parkland, where Cindy shared an especially potent edible on the train ride over. She recalls climbing up the mountain to the palace and seeing giant mice instead of cars coming towards her. “It was like Alice in Wonderland,” she says. The yellow-and-pink castle’s eclectic design—it looks like six castles smashed together—amplified the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole. Overwhelmed, Cindy refused to smoke again for the rest of the trip.

Profile: Korean Smokewear Brand Sundae School Challenges Asian Stereotypes | Leafly(Courtesy of Sundae School)

But getting high together actually brought the siblings closer. “Asian culture is repressed about feelings and emotions,” Cindy explains. “But when Dae and I smoke weed, we open up to each other.” Sundae School was conceived as an idea in 2016 while the siblings were back in Seoul—without herb to smoke but with plenty of time and ambition on their hands.

Though industrial hemp is grown for textiles in South Korea, cannabis was banned under the Cannabis Control Act of 1976. That, coupled with a conservative culture, makes South Korea one of the hardest places to procure cannabis—it’s stigmatized in the mainstream even amongst young people and is commonly known as “Devil’s Lettuce.” None of this has stopped them from partnering with Korean underground stars and brands to promote Sundae School, though. “People are getting more curious,” Dae says. “They’re like, what is this Devil’s Lettuce that the government is banning but all of these rappers are talking about?”

The Potential for Smokewear to Effect Change

Profile: Korean Smokewear Brand Sundae School Challenges Asian Stereotypes | LeaflySundae School’s pop-up Garden of Marijuana installation at Cakeshop in Seoul. (Courtesy of Sundae School)

During the summer of 2017, Sundae School partnered with South Korean artist Jiyen Lee for a pop-up installation called Garden of Marijuana, consisting of 303 green-colored, black-lit sculptures of the Virgin Mary to simulate the sensation of getting high—a holy experience for even the most steadfast atheist, and a way to get around the fact that cannabis is strictly outlawed in South Korea. (Their next party, in New York, will have spliffs.) The installation-slash-shop-slash-party was held at Cakeshop, one of Seoul’s hottest clubs, and attracted some of Korea’s top underground celebrities. Sundae School didn’t have to pay a single won—Cindy and Dae managed to convince those involved that this would be a mutually beneficial experience for everyone.

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There are more milestones ahead for Sundae School—for one, they’re reaching out to Rihanna, the queen of smokewear (Cindy has tried mailing clothing to three different addresses and isn’t giving up yet). Continuing to pay homage to cannabis and subvert their Christian upbringing, they’re working on an upcoming campaign with Sisters of the Valley, a California-based farm whose proprietors call themselves “nuns.” Along with the second collection, the siblings are also working on a content platform called Mellow Yellow to showcase the complexities and nuances of Asian counterculture. Currently, the platform is just an Instagram and domain, but Dae and Cindy hope to expand it to a full production company—including original films in Hollywood someday.

Profile: Korean Smokewear Brand Sundae School Challenges Asian Stereotypes | Leafly(Courtesy of Sundae School)

“We are Korean Americans. We came from Korea when we were 10, and growing up in American culture, there’s a cultural pride in creativity, in voicing your opinion in democracy,” Dae explains. “Korea, it’s not the same, right? Everyone’s taking the same tests. Everyone has to wear the same clothes to school. It’s a very conformist society.”

There is an invisibility in Asian culture, Dae adds. Asian American immigrants can be hesitant about speaking out in public and being political when the model minority myth says to align with mainstream white culture and reap socioeconomic success. But brands like Sundae School have a chance to change the conversation.

“There are a lot of closeted Asian smokers out there,” Dae says. “We want to create a community of these honor rollers.” True to their mission, they invite me for a smoke the next time we meet.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Smoke and Mirrors: Designer Cannabis Jewelry to Elevate Any Wardrobe

The most genius thing about wearing cannabis-inspired jewelry is that it’s like a secret handshake between members of a private club—only instead of Skull & Bones, it’s stoners.

The iconic cannabis leaf—usually seven-point in imagery—doesn’t look so different from other less controversial florabotanica iconography that inspires jewelry designs daily. So, not surprisingly, even people who don’t know their indica from their sativa are collecting and wearing herb-inspired pieces, supporting brands that are using their designs to advocate for marijuana legalization. “Most of my [muses] rock the Sweet Leaf, even if they aren’t cannabis users,” fine jeweler Jacquie Aiche told Leafly.

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“As business owners in the cannabis industry, we each have a responsibility to move this industry forward in the best manner possible,” Genifer Murray, co-founder of Genifer M, adds. “We aim to create a space in which you can fully express your beliefs, hopes and passion for the healing properties of cannabis with the mission to make a difference in people’s lives. It shatters traditional perceptions of cannabis to reverse 90 years of the propaganda in mainstream culture.”

The next time you’re looking for new bling, start with these five fashion-conscious brands—they give new meaning to the phrase “statement jewelry.”

Jacquie Aiche: If You Wanna Be Like Rihanna

Smoke and Mirrors: Designer Marijuana Leaf Jewelry to Elevate Your Wardrobe | Leafly(Courtesy of Jacquie Aiche)

Aiche counts celebrity stoner Rihanna as one of her muses and customers, which is why her Sweet Leaf collection, which includes a $2075 carved body chain, hits Rihanna-level price points, too. (Other muses include models Alessandra Ambrosio, Chanel Iman, Emily Ratajkowski, and Ana Beatriz Barros.) The designs come in three metal finishes: 14K yellow gold, 14K white gold, and of course, 14K rose gold. “The leaf makes people happy, and so [do] diamonds and gold,” Aiche tells Leafly. “I think the major change is the more destigmatized cannabis is, [the] more people are less afraid to wear their Sweet Leaf pieces in public.”

It’s not just sparkle, either. Aiche also sells $190 sweatpants and $440 snake skin doob tubes—because she’s, er, practical.

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Genifer M: If You and Your BFF Want Matching Pendants

Smoke and Mirrors: Designer Marijuana Leaf Jewelry to Elevate Your Wardrobe | Leafly(Courtesy of Genifer M)

This collection was founded by a father-daughter team—and we all wish our dads had this much good taste.

Genifer Murray co-founded one of the first cannabis testing labs in the United States in 2010 and wanted to represent the marijuana industry in a “non-threatening and elegant way” while she was lobbying. Enter her father, a technically trained gemologist who made a 2.5K diamond pave indica leaf lapel for Murray to wear with her suits.

“I wore the pin everywhere and could see it was not only changing minds, but starting conversations with people that traditionally wouldn’t openly discuss or inquire about cannabis,” she tells Leafly. You can still get lapel pins for as low as $30—and they even come in CBD- and THC-molecule types, too, for the nerdiest among us. Genifer M now offers necklaces, bracelets, earrings, cufflinks, chains, and, yes, some clothing. The Modern Leaf design, which is sold in five-point or seven-point leaves, is the most popular design.

Smoke and Mirrors: Designer Marijuana Leaf Jewelry to Elevate Your Wardrobe | Leafly(Courtesy of High Society Collection)

Portland-based High Society Collection is best known for its structural roach clip jewelry, but you can also find a few purely decorative options like these $140 Globe & Tassel earrings. And yet, why would you need them when you could get these Marni-lookalike Mary Jane’s Earrings that are also pinchers for only $45? Many of these pieces are gold-dipped and gold-plated brass, which means you could unobtrusively wear them to work—or dinner with your in-laws—without arousing any suspicions.

Founder and designer Erin Rose Gardner studied metalsmithing and jewelry at the University of Oregon and has been exhibited internationally at Galerie Rob Koudijs in Amsterdam, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston, Norton Museum of Fine Art in West Palm Beach, and more. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Portland area, the studio offers beginner jewelry-making workshops, too—though these seem to be for simple stacking rings. Roach clips should probably be left to the experts.

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IGWT: If You’re Ilana from Broad City

Smoke and Mirrors: Designer Marijuana Leaf Jewelry to Elevate Your Wardrobe | Leafly(Courtesy of IGWT)

This Brooklyn-based jewelry brand, founded by Shana Tabor, prides itself on being manufactured locally in the United States. The cannabis-themed jewelry pieces are limited—wander into the Brooklyn or Portland brick-and-mortar shops and you’ll probably get sidetracked by the pendants with pithy sayings like “I Woke Up Like This” or “Bless This Mess.”

But don’t overlook the Kush stud earrings and necklaces, which come in 14K gold or sterling silver and are classics for any minimalist’s wardrobe. IGWT even sells a brass Zippo lighter that you can get personalized, just to make sure no one “borrows” it.

Sweetflag: If You Wore Millennial Pink Before It Was Cool

Smoke and Mirrors: Designer Marijuana Leaf Jewelry to Elevate Your Wardrobe | Leafly(Courtesy of Sweetflag)

Co-founders Luren Jenison and Lydia Okrent knew that cannabis could profoundly elevate your lifestyle—they just didn’t think the products on the market were aesthetically elevating, especially for the type of person who uses the word “curate” to describe their lifestyle. Hence Sweetflag.

There are gorgeous accessories for before, during, and after your smoke, from a rose gold grinder, to a Golden Snitch-shaped orb to store your stash, to color therapy glasses to alter your perspective in another way. The earrings that Sweetflag sells are designed by artists Claire O’Keefe and Eugenia Oliva in Spain—using freshly picked plants from large magnolia leaves to sweeping olive branches, they prove that cannabis-inspired style doesn’t mean slapping a straight-up cannabis leaf on everything. Do tag us on Instagram if you buy anything.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Smoke and Mirrors: Cannabis, Fashion, and How It All Connects to Rihanna

Is Fashion Making Cannabis Cool, or Vice Versa?

“I wouldn’t go as far to say that fashion has helped accelerate the legalization movement,” Holt says. “I think that train was moving steadily and independently long before designers got on board.” While Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana in 1973, the first mainstream appearance of marijuana in high fashion—designer Jeremy Scott’s greenwash collaboration with Adidas—didn’t appear until 2012, the year that Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. That said, cannabis in fashion has taken off fast. Scott’s collection was spotted on Sky Ferreira and A$AP Rocky. For her Spring 2015 collection, New York-based designer Mara Hoffman released a collection featuring familiar green leaf prints, though she did not actually claim them to be marijuana leaves. “I think cannabis is a beautiful plant,” Hoffman told Style.com. “I am all for its medicinal love and think it should have been legalized years and years ago.”

While Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana in 1973, the first mainstream appearance of cannabis in high fashion wasn’t until 2012.

The aesthetic of the cannabis leaf—regardless of whether you smoke or not—is not lost on designers searching for inspiration from the fringes of society. Fine jewelry maker Jacquie Aiche, a cannabis user herself, launched her first “Sweet Leaf” pieces in 2009, and has since expanded beyond seven-point leaf pendants into $190 sweatpants and $7000 crocodile clutches made to fit vaporizers. “Most of my [muses] rock the Sweet Leaf, even if they aren’t cannabis users,” she says. “The collection is also a celebration of its botanical beauty. I’ve been lucky to have my main muse, Rihanna, be a huge supporter of the Sweet Leaf collection since the beginning.” And as marijuana became increasingly legalized or decriminalized, Aiche says she noticed that people were less afraid to wear their Sweet Leaf pieces in public. “The fashion community has a creative voice that is respected among media,” she says. “Seeing fashion influencers in the Sweet Leaf definitely changes popular perception of this medicinal plant.”

This summer, fashion label Creatures of the Wind released a four-piece capsule collection in collaboration with System magazine, which dedicated its latest issue—all 140 pages—to weed, including a spread shot by famed photographer Juergen Teller on-location at Canadian cannabis production facility (and Leafly sister company) Tilray. For $135, you can buy a t-shirt embroidered with pot leaves. For $150, a sweatshirt. For $2,500, a parka. And if you never check your receipts after purchase, you can buy a fur coat with pot leaves made to order. “As the substance isn’t legal in all 50 states, I feel the plant design has an edgy appeal due to its illicit nature,” one of the two designers, Chris Peters, told WWD.

When high fashion goes high, the appeal is that you’re wearing something aspirational—unattainable to the masses—that is also edgy and illegal in many states. You’re not a regular weed smoker, with the Bob Marley knockoff stereotypes attached. You’re someone who uses rose gold vaporizers. But just as with haute couture’s appropriation of streetwear (see Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Supreme, or Vetements—which also designed gilded weed grinders in 2016), the use of cannabis imagery and motifs in high fashion raises the question of who gets the privilege of celebrating their cannabis lifestyle out in the public. Gap is not selling cannabis-print tees, after all. Sure, on Etsy, you can find weed-themed t-shirts for around $20, but Rihanna’s not shopping there.

Additional image credits:

Header: Courtesy of Manolo Blahnik
First featured image: Courtesy of Elizabeth Lippman/The Hero Shop
Second featured image: Courtesy of Beboe
Third featured image: Courtesy of Creatures of the Wind


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.