Shinhwan Kim talks with us about the necessity of communication through fashion, as he believes that interaction between designer and wearer becomes essential in understanding the underlying message of individual garments. Capturing the fleeting moments of everyday life, his graduate collection ‘Shifting Movement’ conveys the mundane through unexpected materials and techniques. This seemingly odd yet necessary pairing of style and theme is what keeps his collection intriguing — not only to wear, but also to look at. Drastically reducing his colour palette to black and white, the contrast between similarity and difference of his experiences are clearly represented through his collection. “It is about my thought sequence in momentary observation of daily life, with numerous repetitions and recognition of differences.”
Is your collection inherently personal?
My work is an extension of my identity, whether conscious or not. Sometimes I don’t know how I end up with what I have, but I try to figure it out as I continue working. I find inspiration through observing and thinking about daily life as well as reading. If I find an idea that I want to work on from a personal experience, I start thinking about how I can connect it with other experiences from the past.
Can you speak about the significance of experimentation and development in your work?
I think they are essentials in design. Every moment of it is a path to improvement and progress. Personally I think design can be used to both communicate with a wider audience and challenge conventional and societal norms. It is important for a designer to have some objectivity based on previous resources, but explore a more diverse approach.
When developing and transforming your collection, how important was working with different creative forms and materials?
It led me to explore various aspects of design, but I always kept in mind that it needed to be understandable to others. The choice in materials was important, but not as much as the idea behind it.
Thinking in a broader sense when approaching design, do you understand your work as design or as art?
I understand my work as design. If you want to say something more to yourself than to others, it can be understood as art. However, if you want to say something more to others than yourself, it can be understood as design. I think it is about objectivity and subjectivity. Honestly, I do not know how people see and think about my work, but I try to express what I feel and think through my garments.
How do you feel about your whole experience at the RCA? Are you excited to head out into industry?
It was an absolutely fabulous experience. I cannot be sure that I will ever have a chance to think about myself as deeply as I could at the RCA again. I am quite excited to go into industry but nervous at the same time. My plan is really dependent on unforeseen situations, but I want to work for a company first before anything else.
In what way would you like the fashion industry to change?
What I can do is to do what I can do: to stand with my vision and stay rooted, then maybe someone will feel something. I am afraid that I will lose my original intentions and beliefs as a designer once I go into the fashion industry. I am going to try and stay true to myself, which will be sort of a challenge to other’s perceptions. To keep my thoughts, it is required to change people’s thoughts.
Words by Grace Ahn
All images courtesy of Shinhwan Kim