fashion . Interview

Minju Kim Talks About Life After 'Next In Fashion'

What's next for Minju?

Get this: South Korean designer and newly-crowned winner of Netflix’s Next in Fashion Minju Kim hasn’t got a clue about what's next in fashion. 

“Many interviewers and journalists have asked me this question, however I’m not a fashion analyst," she quips. "If I had known which trends were going to be popular, I would’ve been super rich by now."

'Next In Fashion' winner Minju Kim

Instead, in an exclusive interview with Clozette, Minju excitedly talks about what's next for her. And at the moment, it's her latest collection for Spring/Summer 2020 “La Casa Azul,” a continuation of her finale collection in Next In Fashion taking great inspiration from the highly imaginative Frida Kahlo. It will be available exclusively starting 20 February at SocietyA through its website and physical store at Takashimaya Department Store, Singapore. 

"'La Casa Azul' translates to 'blue house,' It is the name of the house which Frida Kahlo actually lived in," Minju explains. "I imagined Frida in her house living moments of her life where she felt the most protected." From that idea, the collection featuring easy, wearable designs was born.

Minju Kim’s SS20 collection is inspired by Frida Kahlo

"I have always admired Frida’s strong energy. How she overcame all of her difficulties and expressed that process through her works," she reflects. "It is very inspiring to me."

Since our previous interview with Minju, a lot has already happened to her career. After winning the 10-episode series, what inspires Minju to go on? In this interview, the designer talks about life after Next in Fashion, her dream collaboration, and the ultimate reason why she designs.

We often hear about the importance of intuition when it comes to designing. Do you believe this?

Yes, the reason I design is to tell stories about myself. So, I have to believe in my intuition. But that said, at the same time, I also have to continuously ask myself if this is really MINJUKIM. After I’ve asked myself a hundred times, finally I answer myself back with a big "yes." That right there is my intuition.  

Many fans of the show admire the friendship which you have with fellow ‘Dragon Princess’ and designer Angel Chen as well as with Daniel Fletcher. In your case, who do you admire?

Belgian fashion designer Walter van Beirendonck. He taught me when I was at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, and his work inspires me in so many ways.

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Who do you wish to dress or work with in the near future?

When the show was on air, Gigi Hadid contacted me personally and sent kind messages to me. If I had the chance, I would love to work with her. 

We love that your designs are whimsical, feminine and so fun, and you’re known to develop your own fabrics. Can you walk us through your process? Do you have plans to use alternative, forest-friendly fabrics with the growing demand for sustainable fashion? 

I usually start with illustrating my inspirations by hand before I process them on the computer, which are then used to develop fabrics. The patterned fabrics that I use in my collections are mostly drawn by me. I work on the designs after the fabrics have been created. 

[As for sustainability,] yes, I have been studying and researching about that. Our team needs more experience in developing fabrics to accomplish this but I will keep trying.

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You’ve talked about the importance of young designers getting support for their work — what should budding designers do to receive more support and to better equip themselves for the demands of the ever-changing fashion industry? 

My answer might be disappointing but I really wish to tell young designers to learn about the business side of things, or to have someone who could help in this aspect. You should also never be afraid to listen to harsh criticisms from experts and from your customers. Their feedback might be hurtful at times but if you are willing to listen to them, to take in their words, and to make changes, your stories can then be told. 

Finally, what's next for Minju Kim?

Preparing for my Fall/Winter 2020 collection is on top of my list. I also want to repay people who’ve cheered me on and supported me in producing my collections. 

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

(Cover photo from: MINJU KIM/SocietyA

Now, read about the accessories which stole the spotlight this NYFW 2020