The indisputable breakout star and winner of Netflix’s latest fashion show Next In Fashion , Minju Kim, is an award-winning designer who has created outfits for some of K-pop’s most beloved bands. With her humble, friendly demeanour and whimsical, fashion-forward designs, Kim quickly captured the hearts of hosts Alexa Chung and Queer Eye ’s Tan France, as well as the audience, and her shock at winning endeared her even further. “It’s surreal watching myself on screen, since we filmed this last April. I’ve been getting well-wishes from around the world and it’s amazing people are getting to know my ‘world’ – it feels like I’m still floating on a cloud,” she said. How Korean designer Minju Kim won Netflix’s Next in Fashion Fashion superstardom was not always on the South Korean’s mind – her original goal was to be an art or design teacher in New Zealand, where she attended middle and high school. “My parents wanted me to return to my hometown and study in Korea, but I had nowhere to go as the university is based on the Korean exam system. So I decided to go to Samsung Art & Design Institute (SADI) to continue my creative dreams. They only have three courses: fashion, communication and product design, so I chose fashion as it seemed the most flexible,” said Kim, who majored in menswear. From there, she went on to her dream school, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, where her experience there and her tutelage under Belgian fashion icon Walter Van Beirendonck shaped her career today. “It was tough and lonely being a foreign student there for four years, but I truly believe it made me who I am now. I’ve always wanted to be like Walter; the way he describes and translates his fantasy world into fashion helped me find my own style and woke me up as a designer,” said Kim, who also cites manga as an influence. “During that time, I expanded my own fantasy world, breaking through my own ‘box’ to make the sound of my own [fashion] voice.” Who are the choreographers behind BTS’ biggest MV hits? One of the best things about Next In Fashion was the camaraderie between contestants, with minimal reality-show squabbling. Kim remembers hanging out together with the contestants at the hotel bar after each challenge and cheering each other up. “Thinking about it makes me smile, and the whole experience reminded me how much I love being a designer. Honestly, since I started my label I haven’t had time to rest, worrying about the next [fashion] season, money, the business … I forgot why I loved fashion and why I started. Meeting these beautiful people reignited my passion, and while the show hasn’t influenced my style, I’m more confident that I can handle any genre.” All our fabric is made from scratch, starting with drawing illustrations, then developing a fabric which can express the desired illustrated using various fabrication techniques Minju Kim While Kim’s star is on the rise internationally, the prolific couturier was a semi-finalist in the LVMH Prize for Young Designers in 2014, and was the winner of the H&M Design Award 2013. That’s not all – she has created outfits for reigning K-pop superstars BTS and Red Velvet . The quirky SM Entertainment quintet sported Kim’s looks for their song Rookie and One of These Nights , with Kim directing the style look for the latter’s music video and enjoying a three-year partnership with one of Korea’s top girl groups. “They’ve worn Minjukim many times, on stage at music shows, in concerts, and in their music videos. We also made a special installation based on their music video concept and collaborated on making certain goods,” Kim said. “They’re one of the most talented idols and I’m really proud of all the work I’ve done for Red Velvet.” Why has BTS’ hip-hop head Suga never got a tattoo? BTS fans would have seen Kim’s work in BTS’s 2018 “Love Yourself” world tour, where she made the band’s gorgeous all-white outfits for their I Need U performance, and V and Suga’s sequinned, tasselled jackets for DNA . “Their stylist contacted me to make costumes for their concert – we used Minjukim fabrics for this. All our fabric is made from scratch, starting with drawing illustrations, then developing a fabric which can express the desired illustrated using various fabrication techniques,” says Kim, adding that jacquard is her favourite fabric. What did Red Velvet have to say to us when they visited Hong Kong? Following the success of NIF , Kim hopes to team up for a special collaboration with her NIF teammate and friend, Angel Chen, the other half of team “Dragon Princesses”. “We’ve been friends since 2015 when we met at London Fashion Scout during a group show. Angel plans to visit me and we’re serious about future collaborations. I’d love to enter another TV competition – as long as Angel is there too!” For the uninitiated, the Minjukim collection is for women who confidently express what they love, and Kim says part of the reason she joined NIF was to let the world know the beauty of her brand. “Some designers have muses, but I don’t have a specific muse – I get inspired by women who aren’t afraid of others and are brave enough to show what they really want. I wish to invite these ladies into the world of Minjukim and see my designs on the street.” Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter . 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