For designer Jamie Kim, New York is her personal creative playground. The NY-based Fashion Institute of Technology graduate has crafted two distinct collections — The Melting Pot NYC and The ‘I” Voice Is Central — demonstrate Kim’s deft touch, experience, and knowledge of both mens and womenswear. Bringing together experience in international trade and marketing with her fashion design background gives Kim a broad depth of insight into what consumers are looking for — and what they are itching to wear.
Schön! chats with Jamie Kim about her two collections, using the city of New York as her biggest creative catalyst, and more.
Your work is meticulous; you analyze, and research trends impacting the industry and incorporate or respond to them through your designs. As a designer, is that something you’ve always tried to accomplish in your work? What are some of the current trends you’re forecasting for fashion?
I can say that sustainability is what the fashion industry is paying most attention to now. In fashion, sustainability was initially focused on recycling resources, but these days, they try to provide slow fashion to consumers along with recycling. So when I chose the fabric, I tried to choose recycled, non-dyeing fabric, or using upcycling techniques, and furthermore, I designed the my collections as everyday life style into their wardrobe to keep longer, maintaining my design esthetics.
What would you say your brand’s ethos or mantra is?
I think my collections have permeated traditional classic menswear with little wit and twists. I think when anything is mixed and matched, something new is born. People think that unique fabrics, small details, and slightly different fit are one of the ways they enjoy fashion in their daily lives, while maintaining the basic style they usually seek and enjoy rather than being enthusiastic about unusual silhouettes or styles. Because of that, I would say that my brand designs people’s everyday life.
Your latest collection the melting pot NYC has been designed with sustainability at the forefront. Why was this important to both you as a designer and even as a consumer of fashion?
As mentioned earlier, the impact of the fashion industry on the environment is currently a big problem, and many fashion brands are focusing on creating sustainability departments and designing and branding based on them. That’s because as a designer, I thought that being interested in these issues communicates with society, not just focusing on the fashion trends that are updated every year, and I know that these are important things that consumers are familiar with and think about.
Inspired by the ‘melting pot’ of NYC, you incorporate a range of garments, from classic suits to work wear to streetwear. This collection also breaks free of gender norms. Why was this important to you as a designer to implement and weave through this collection?
The city where I was born and raised is sensitive to fashion trends. So, maybe they all pursue the same styles, and they have their own standards. I felt tired of those things and wanted to experience new environments and cultures to expand my design perspective. I may have believed that they would affect my view of design. After coming to NYC, What I saw and felt about people’s daily lives and cultural elements in this city, and what I realized while working in the fashion industry, helped me get out of my existing framework. I think the combination of their gender, culture, and individuality that they have creates a new power. I believe that the purchase of consumers is not followed by gender. This is because they usually respond to the designer’s design and are interested in it. Also, I think the attitude of society and the fashion industry in recent years to pay attention to genderless is well illustrated in my “Melting Pot, NYC” collection.
What are some of the ways your brand is helping to create sustainable fashion and ease the emission impact of the supply chain?
I have a lot of options from which to choose when designing. While making design decisions, consider utilizing sustainable materials that don’t need extensive processing, planning and implementing many tasks so that nothing is left behind during manufacturing, and minimizing resource and labor waste up until products are delivered to customers. And in my opinion, it’s essential to design collections that customers can wear for a very long period.
What connects all of your pieces in this collection is the fickleness of New Yorkers; they get bored of repetitive styles. When making this collection, what were some of the different ways you ensured the clothing represented what it means to be a true New Yorker?
While pursuing core styles, New Yorkers also value distinctive things. I think those are the attractions of this city. It is the most crucial consideration when I build a collection because they are the first to respond to new that are calm but fresh. They are accustomed to the neutral tone, much as the colour of New York City, therefore my colour scheme consists primarily of neutral hues, the fabric texture incorporates novel or intriguing elements, and the design incorporates a few small features that stray from the fundamentals.
The designs in your collection the ‘I’ voice is central, it blends a mix of your interests and fascination with early 19th century romanticism. Where did this interest come from and how do you implement these interests into your work?
I intended to use the traditional fashion of the 19th century and stretch it to the present when I designed this collection to convey their delicate and emotional inner self. By incorporating youth into the current fashion trend, warm and emotive garments like wide-sleeved shirts, curved designs, and short pants have been reinvented in a new approach. Imagining that if people from the romantic era of the 19th century suddenly came in the present, they would do so decked out with my collection. It was graphically designed to represent the feelings of youth with romanticism and was inspired by works of art from that time.
In this collection, you defy the traditional structures and norms from the period and instead breathe new life into it by making it freer and youth-centric. Why was it important to you to reframe the idea of what fashion was for this time period?
I think fashion is one of the means to represent the structure and characteristics of the society. Although I cannot imagine the era of the 19th century now, which is the 21st century, I think I could understand through the costumes at that time that there were many norms and restrictions. I wanted to release their clothes more freely, like the people’s emotions and thoughts from the time, as I could see from the works of art of the era. Just as many people these days make their voices through fashion and deliver messages, through this collection, I wanted to express the silent shouts of the times.
Was there a specific aspect of this collection that you found difficult to convey or design? On the flip side, was there one that was obvious to incorporate?
The fashion traits of the era are very obvious. Therefore, I believe it was challenging to design them in a way that would make them seem more contemporary and youthful. I had the idea that people may not feel romanticism in this collection. In order to better comprehend people’s beliefs and values of the time, I expanded my ideas beyond clothes and into artworks and daily life. I then developed effective ways to represent these concepts and values and used them in this collection.
How do you see the Jamie Kim brand growing and evolving in the future?
When I was born and raised in Korea, I became aware of how important fashion is in people’s lives. Then, when I moved to New York, I discovered how to organize and approach my design in light of its significance. This fusion of my environment and culture will serve as a significant source of inspiration for my brand, and I will communicate with people through my design around the world. I will propose a design that can perceive people’s inner ideas and empathize with their emotions rather than being inspired by things outside of themselves.
Lastly, what do you hope those wearing your designs feel or think when wearing your clothing?
I hope people who like and wear my designs to think that my collection is necessary when drawing their lifestyles. As a designer who is inspired by people living their daily lives and wants to talk to them through my design, I would be more than happy if my clothes became part of their lives and kept in the closet for a long time.
For more information on Jamie Kim, follow her at @jamiekim.