Before becoming the inaugural winner of Netflix’s fashion design competition Next in Fashion earlier this year, 34-year-old South Korean designer Minju Kim had long been dressing K-Pop stars, including stage costumes for BTS and Red Velvet. After the win—which earned her global recognition and a capsule collection launch on Net-a-Porter—the soft-spoken designer, known for her billowing confections, has been welcomed into the luxury e-tailer’s The Vanguard programme, providing her with the resources and exposure to grow.
How did you first realise you wanted to work in fashion?
I studied fashion, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to become a fashion designer; I was more passionate about drawing. Then Walter Van Beirendonck, the head of the Fashion Department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where I studied, became my teacher in my third year, and he really inspired me to become a designer, just like him.
What was the first roadblock you had to overcome?
I encountered some financial problems. I never learned how to run a business of my own, so for the first few years I struggled with the business side of running an individual brand.
When did you first realise your brand was getting a lot of buzz?
It was right after the 2013 H&M Design Award that I won. That collection was produced and sold all over the world, and sold out within a week.
What was the first thing you learned while competing in Next in Fashion?
I had to learn to be quick on my feet and to problem solve. We had such a short time to come up with each concept, design and make the requested looks, so I learned to trust my own decisions, not look back and solve the problems as fast as I could.