Anna Kim actually got started in the fashion industry by reading fashion books and learning fashion words used for sewing, designing, and styling. She was initially a student of Seoul National University – her major was International Relations while her second one was European studies. She was curious about fashion and she wanted to be part of that world. It attracted her so much. However, she could not give up her studies and it was quite intense at the time, so she had to learn about fashion all by herself during her free time that she almost did not have.
One day, she attended Seoul Fashion Week where she realized just how much she really wants to be a part of the Fashion world. There were several ways to become closer to the industry that she could do during her undergrad. One of them was to become a fashion journalist. She found a job looking for a journalist and she started to write articles about Korean fashion and events and every week she went to different brands to interview Korean fashion designers.
After her undergrad, she wanted to learn fashion design at a university and get a master’s degree. However, she was not allowed to enter because they required an undergrad degree in fashion design so she decided to study at Yonsei University Korean studies and concentrate on Korean costume instead. All her researches were about the history of Korean costume and women of 1920-the 30s. When she graduated she got a diploma with a “Master of Korean Arts”.
Since her approach to fashion started academically, after finishing her master’s, she wanted to learn the practical part. She wanted to learn how to sew and create patterns and practice to become a professional designer and pattern maker. At that time she already had an idea of how to create her own brand. However, she had to go to China due to personal reasons and she ended up staying there for one year, learning Chinese.
She saw how advanced the fashion industry in China was so she attended more than 50 fashion shows, met lots of people from the fashion industry, bought books about sewing techniques, etc. She learned a lot and was even more inspired to create her own brand. When she came back, she continued to attend her fashion school but at the same time, she started to rent her first office in the fashion center of Seoul, near Dongdaemun Design Plaza. She studied and tried to apply everything she learned. It was a happy time for her, despite all the hardships. This is how she got into the fashion world.
Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with Anna to discuss her journey in the fashion world and here’s what went down:
What do you like most about being a designer?
I love the feeling of creativity and freedom that you can create anything you want (from your own world). The question you have to sell is “how”.
Downside to being a fashion designer?
Factories, production, control of the process. Dust. Neverending updates and sometimes crazy pace that doesn’t let you live a normal life. When you are young it’s okay but later on, it becomes harder.
What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?
Meeting people and seeing how they feel happy when buying or trying on the clothes I made.
Another moment was when Coronavirus started, I had to adapt my business to a new format and I started to teach fashion in my studio in Seoul. Sewing classes, fashion illustration, collection planning, and students’ preparation for study at the fashion design department in South Korean universities. I was happy to see how my students are growing. Recently, I continue to teach and show Korean movies related to Korean fashion, read lectures dedicated to the history of Korean costumes online and offline.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
The most interesting people are my clients and in most cases, they become good friends.
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.
I have to think about every step very carefully and think about the whole strategy at the same time. It’s quite hard to keep all moments and control the situation, despite on notes or interns/assistants I have.
Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?
My mother supports me a lot, while my father was dreaming about a different future. He wanted me to become a diplomat and work in the Korean embassy. However, I don’t see myself working there.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I would not like to work with Korean producers, who invited me to their project (movie) to create clothes for the actors. I had to get a deposit in advance. That was my mistake and now everything is pre-paid.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
My professor from the fashion school after I graduated recommended I continue to develop my own brand rather than go to work for a company. And now I want to say many thanks for this advice.
My advice to readers: Start with what you are afraid of the most.
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
I am planning to move to Moscow, collaborate with Russian artists, and continue my activities there together with my business in Seoul, Korea.