Kim Hyun Jung is the current design director for a Korean fashion brand BEANPOLE. I recently had the pleasure of virtually interviewing her to hear more about her personal experience with fashion and her general thoughts about the fashion industry as a whole.
When did you first realize that you were interested in fashion as a career path?
My journey with fashion came to me very naturally. When I was around five years old, I would observe my aunt getting ready for work every morning. I was always intrigued by the beauty of her carefully planned outfits and makeup. Soon enough, I started playing with my dolls by dressing them up with pieces of fabric. Eventually when I entered the fourth grade, I tried designing my own clothes for the first time. I still remember the design vividly: a top with floral fabric with the added detail of a delicate ribbon. Throughout middle and high school, I had to wear a school uniform but I always invested a lot of time in coordinating or accessorizing the uniforms to make them more fashionable. Later in college, I started modeling part-time which gave me a closer look into the fashion industry.
What was something that surprised you when you entered the fashion industry?
One of the things that surprised me most is how much waste is created in this industry. I also found myself purchasing clothes every season and having many of them ultimately go to waste. For that reason, I’ve recently gained a lot of interest in sustainability. I’m hoping to implement greater use of recycled polyester and cashmere in my work to be more considerate towards the environment.
As a design director for BEANPOLE, where do you derive most of of your creativity?
Like Ralph Lauren, BEANPOLE is a very classic brand. Many of their products is heavily inspired by actual clothing styles of regular civilians from the 1920s to 1980s. I think I’ve personally sought inspiration from many notable female artists and photographers from the past. More recently, I have also attended multiple exhibitions for Jean Michel Basqiuiat, Jenny Holzer, Jean Michel Othoniel, that has also fueled a lot of my creativity.
How has fashion transformed in Korea over time and where do you see it heading in the future?
I think that compared to other countries, fashion trends in Korea are very ‘fast-paced.’ Every Korean is deeply interested in fashion and consequently, we are endlessly discovering new ideas in fashion. Meeting this enormous consumer demand and accurately predicting future trends cause a considerable amount of mental labor. (Having had experience with American, European, and Chinese businesses, I can confidently say Korea is the most “sensitive” towards fashion trends.) But when the pandemic first hit us, there was widespread change in consumer buying patterns. With many individuals working from home and practicing social distancing, there was reduced demand for formalwear and a rising interest in ‘2 mile fashion’– a new embrace of wearing loungewear outdoors. But this year, we have seen a sudden burst of consumer demand in clothing overall, causing a boom within the fashion industry. Looking forward, we will probably see more stable growth in online businesses than offline ones. Offline shops will be maintained by the companies’ fixed customer base; marketing and promotion will become all the more important to foster bonding with these relationship buyers.
Feature Image from The Korea Herald