Tatler Hong Kong talks to Minju Kim, the winner of Netflix’s fashion design competition Next in Fashion, about the many firsts in her life

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.

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Above Looks from Minju Kim’s fall-winter 2020 collection, available exclusively at Net-a-Porter (Photo: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter)

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. 

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'gallery right' 'gallery right'
'gallery right' 'gallery right'
Photo 1 of 3 Photo: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter
Photo 2 of 3 Photo: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter
Photo 3 of 3 Photo: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

What were your first reactions to seeing your collection carried by Net-a-Porter?

It felt like a dream come true. I always wanted to reach as many people as possible. The whole world has access to Net-a-Porter and can order online. My own brand does not have that kind of resources yet.

Which Hollywood celebrity would you most want to dress?

I love the show Killing Eve. I really want to dress Sandra Oh. She has been my favourite actress for a very long time.

Where is the first place you look for inspiration?

In my bedroom. I find rest and stress relief through sleeping. Whenever I get angry, sad or stressed, I recharge my energy through sleeping. This is why so many of my collections are about night or dreams. The narrative for this coming fall-winter 2020 collection, for example, is about a knight who protects dreams.

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