Featured in Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Interview, and many more, Kim Shui has made it far for her mere 28 years (also, notably, to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in 2019). Born in the States, raised in Italy with her Chinese parents, Shui lives in New York and embraces the city in its entirety, as a context and theme of her uplifting, millennial design. DANSK took a talk with the aspiring star about involving a multicultural background in one design and how ‘sexy’ is the single woman’s choice.
This interview is about emerging artists. What is the next step on your career ladder? Do you know what it is yet?
I’m hoping to work on gaining more stockists this season – we’ve had success with the ones that we’ve been working with so far. Really, I’m hoping to see more and more women wear Kim Shui!
Do you find that the internet/social media made it easier for you to emerge in art or the contrary?
I definitely don’t think I would have made it where I am now without the internet or social media. Many people tell me they’ve discovered me via Instagram or know me from there. Celebrities and well-known singers have reached out to me via the platform.
Are there some themes that you find yourself and your art to come back around to? Why do you think it is so?
There’s always a strong collage element in my work – mainly I feel because of my background being Chinese, growing up in Italy and now working and being NY based. But also, I always want my clothes to make women feel sexy! I notice a lot of “sexy” on Instagram but not really on the runways anymore. I wonder if it’s because fashion thinks sexy is too risky? Sexy isn’t really considered very “cool” and almost comes off like having bad taste. With prairie dresses and oversize looks it seems that being baggy and covered up gives you more street cred. I wonder if it is because we fear that if women cover up, they will be empowered?
How do you manifest these geographical differences in your work?
I tend to show it through how I combine fabrics, colors and shapes. For instance, I would use cheongsam inspired elements in tandem with Italian fabrics deconstructed cuts.
Sexy is hardly universal. How do you represent the many aspects of sexy in one work, your work?
It’s true that sexy isn’t universal. With my work I want to show that each woman can define her own sexy. If modest is sexy to her, she should dress modest and vice versa with daring. Dressing is her choice I am just supplying her with some different options.
It is always easy for the observer and critic to label an artist’s work with a purpose – but, asking you, do your works have a purpose? What?
I’ve always been passionate about fashion because of the way it can make you feel. To me, being beautiful is about confidence and the way you put yourself together. I want to give women the possibility of being sexy, whenever they want to whomever they want – themselves included! I think you should be modest if you want to and show skin if that is what you want to. So that is where my work comes in. My pieces can be body con and sexy but also eccentric. For me, the everyday person really craves that moment of being sensuous, but where can they get a piece that isn’t fashion nova or la Perla? I feel that there is a lack of clothing that is sexy designed by women for the benefit of women not necessarily taking into account being sexy for men.
Many are talking about the pressure on us young people. Now that you have created (quite) some success, do you still feel this pressure? Did you ever?
Of course, there’s always this pressure to outdo yourself each season and achieve more, but I think that’s all part of this! To me I don’t see it as something negative but more as motivation to continue my story.
Where do you see your story heading, apart from getting more stockists?
I hope I can reach an increasingly broader audience! I’d love to expand more accessories as well. A couple months ago we just released a shoe capsule with Jeffrey Campbell which was very special to us! And we have an upcoming accessory project to be released soon in September 2019.
For more information, see Kim Shui