Growing up in South Korea, Terry Cho learned fashion by apprenticing with his mother at a local swap meet. His mom sold blank t-shirts and sports jerseys which would often find their way to Cho’s closet. He found time to get creative with his clothing and style from there, and would one day find himself managing and directing at the upscale swap meet of high-end streetwear, Dover Street Market, at their New York City location.
Starting with just a few t-shirt designs, Exchange Program launched in November 2020. He gave shirts to friends and family to get his product circulating. With programs like SHOW&TELL, Terry Cho is creating a platform where creatives in the AAPI community have an opportunity to share their art and message.
“To Learn Is To Coexist” is the Exchange Program motto, and it is the contrasting thought that perpetuates the brand's aesthetic. A clash of old selling methods, with modern appeal to the customer, using sans serif and serif fonts to create the EP logo and believing “that everyone that has done great things has a story on why and how they did what they did. Sharing that only gives others the confidence to move the same,” Cho says.
“My goal with SHOW&TELL was to seek out and connect with other individuals who may not always have the opportunity to share their unique arts, talents, styles, and or passions. So this builds upon that thought by inviting collaborators, friends, and other individuals to produce a single item that they would like to show and tell to the world. By amplifying their stories to larger audiences, we hope to provide a platform for like-minded peers to connect and collaborate, molding this community into one that is both for the masses and for ourselves. I intended Exchange Program to be about uncovering new talent and along with that, amplifying already on the rise entities with our main goal of establishing unique communities through awareness and organic connection.
The aim is to create a presence that can empower these individuals/groups to create a truly global community, connected across different cultures and backgrounds by a shared dedication to lifelong learning, while simultaneously bringing new and fresh voices to the table. So the SHOW&TELL with my mother was with myself as a collaborator. She, who came to the states with nothing and worked hard to even allow me to have dreams like running a brand. I decided to dedicate that to my single mother during the hard times where AAPI communities were/are under a lot of grief to share our story as a source of awareness for Asian-American Pacific-Islanders’ communities.”
Influenced by friends and family first, Terry Cho has built Exchange Program as a place to challenge the way people think about solutions to our social and economical issues. Cho champions shared education and values experiences like his own to help communities grow. Cho was fortunate to make it into a streetwear house like Dover Street Market, coming from swapmeets in South Korea. He would be even more fortunate to befriend some of streetwear's ‘OGs’ - unnamed, of course.
Cho believes that Exchange Program “is an exchange of ideas in the most organic way. To bring different worlds together to create a juxtaposed solution in the way we think, live, and carry ourselves. It's about kicking knowledge and experience. There isn't ever only one way to do anything. I want to open people's minds to unorthodox concepts which potentially teach us new things through other people’s stories.