It was only a matter of time until the world would be exposed to the individualistic and functionalist designs of Rani Kim. Growing up under the wings of two artists, Rani’s childhood was surrounded by creative energies, exposing her to the world of art and design – a realm that would become a home for her own imagination. Since she recently showcased her spring collection at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week, I was able to chat with the young visionary about mentors, aesthetics, and her success as a young designer.
As a young child Kim was always drawn towards fashion and design, able to recollect acquaintances’ outfits more than their names. It was only natural then that Kim entered the world of design “I draw inspiration from the environment around me. A lot of times, I get inspired by artists in different fields such as architecture, industrial design, and photography. I like to go to libraries in my spare time to see what I can connect with in artistic books," a wistful Rani says. Kim’s dedication and admiration for her art form has landed her opportunities many emerging designers could only dream of – securing a spot within the top three for the Art of Fashion Design competition and a place in Toronto Men’s Fashion Weeks, EMDA’s. Her structurally sound menswear line has quickly risen to fame, propelling its ubiquity within the industry. Rani believes that there is still much to explore in the realm of menswear, stating “…there are many conventionalized restrictions and I want to break these rules and create new boundaries in menswear.”
With her intrinsic love for functionality and movement, Rani’s vision became clear, favoring a utilitarian approach to fashion while re-conceptualizing modern menswear. “I bike around the city a lot, and I found my clothing was really uncomfortable. I thought I would make fashionable clothes that you could bike around in the city, while still being stylish. This specific concept of movement and how its surrounding environment affects its subject is the concept I explored. I tried to reflect different types of movements in my designs to recreate these combinations of experiences.” Rani says. But what is most captivating about Rani Kim’s approach is the constant creativity conveyed through her designs, juxtaposing functionality and innovation, and, in this particular collection, showcasing the dichotomy between stillness and movement. “The patterns and shapes of my arm casts really fascinated me, showing their ability to contrast movement by mixing materials such as raw wood grain and finished leather. It’s a stable shape attached to a moving object, and the shape really dictates the patterns of movement associated with the object.” Rani replies. With a strong understanding of her own aesthetic vision, Rani flourished during her exchange at the Teko Design School in Denmark, finding a mentor in world-renowned menswear designer Astrid Andersen. A little star-struck by her mentorship with Andersen, I was eager to learn more about her experience during her stay in Denmark: “The most important thing I learned was to not compare yourself to other people. Research on your own and listen to constructive criticism in order to make your true aesthetic stronger. Everyone has their own aesthetics, and in order to become a great designer you have to exploit it.” Despite all of Kim’s recent success, her views and attitudes toward the art of her work remains humble and genuine. The wunderkind’s unconditional passion is truly inspiring. “I really do love designing. I care about it in every aspect of my life. The more I create things, the more passionate I become. It makes me understand that I have my own aesthetics and that I want to continue perfecting it.” Within the ever-growing fashion industry Kim’s motivation and effervescence has proven strong, gaining her the right exposure and ever deserving success since her graduation. Rani speaks humbly about her recent successes: “It is definitely exciting, and I feel really honored. I am an emerging designer right now, I feel like I am getting a lot of spotlight because I’m new to the scene. I don’t really see the fashion industry as a competitive thing. I see it as very fun. The deadlines are tight, so my time has been very valuable.”
Observing this emerging designer with an immaculate understanding of her own talents and admirable passion for her designs, I look forward for the years to come – Watching her career take flight as she hones in on her aesthetic that she has come to know so well, while diminishing conventionalized restrictions; creating new boundaries in modern menswear.