Truth be told, there is no such thing as a career for models. Having been in the fashion industry for a bit now, I’ve learned that modeling is more of a seasonal, temporary job that should serve as a stepping stone for something else that you really want to do with your life later on. This is especially true for male models in Korea, whose options are quite limited: you either make it big as an actor when your modeling career is approaching the end (i.e. Kimwoobin, Chaseungwon, Leejongsuk) or become a successful businessman, both of which happen less frequently than they should.
Top Korean male model, Kimwonjoong, chose the latter, launching an online shop “87mm” in 2011 with his fellow model friend, ParkJiwoon, leveraging their fame as celebrity models.
Three years later came a collection under the same name which signifies the year the two models were born. (In Korea, it’s common to see people becoming friends based on the year they were born.)
As there’s no background information available on these two models-turned-designers, I’m going to cautiously assume they haven’t necessarily had training in fashion design.
Now, I don’t mean to contradict myself (I did mention in “Oudifu” post that the designer did not go to fashion school, etc) but when you’ve had plenty of experience with designer clothes and built connections in the industry and most importantly have achieved “top” status in a relevant category, it’s only natural to venture out into another field especially when your time as a model is running out. It’s a model’s job to quickly figure out what he likes to do and what he’s good at to come up with a new goal or dream by leveraging fame, connections and experience gained through modeling. Yes, we are talking business here.
While it may look like a bunch of ideas at the moment, with enough experience and knowledge, it will only get better. If anything, branding is definitely there which makes marketing so much easier for 87mm. Marketing is one area many Korean fashion designers struggle with, and the bad news is, no matter how good your stuff is, if nobody knows about it, there is just no way it will sell. On the other hand, if people know about your brand and consider it “cool” regardless of how good or bad the quality or design is, it’s more likely to sell. Call it unfair, but that’s life- I mean, business.
Wearability, comfort and oversize seem to be keywords for the debut collection, which became all the more desirable when Kimwonjoong came into the picture. It’s a funny thing. A good looking man, that really is all you need to sell… Oh the naiveté.
Each look seemed to be trying to justify the fact that it was created by models, as if these were the stuff Kim and Park would be rocking on their off-duty days.
Womenswear were particularly intriguing, as they literally looked like girls wearing guys’ things. As much as I’m a fan of menswear-inspired womenswear, I’m still undecided whether I like this direct approach.
The ideas are there. Execution, not so much. but they should be praised for their courage for entering an industry that can be intimidating (Most of the designers showing during Seoul Fashion Week are graduates of top fashion schools). This isn’t the first time models have attempted fashion design in Korea (i.e. Rubina) but it’s undoubtedly a revolutionary move. Nevertheless, it’s nice to know that at such a young age, the duo realize that it is only through challenges that one can grow, and from my personal experience with them- I have faith that they will succeed whichever route they end up taking, because nothing beats hard work and humility after all.
On that note, fight on, guys.
Let’s make better shoes next time though… not digging dancing toes. yeah?
Just let me have this ensemble. Navy and black are the obvious yet most overlooked match that weirdly look so awesome together.
And we thought Rag & Bone ended the V-neck game.
Photos by Justin Shin, Fashion Photographer Seoul Korea