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Kim Chi, Winner of KreARTivrausch 2014

The event KreARTivrausch took place in Muelheim, Germany. It was organized by a group of assistants in event management in training. Our aim was to combine different arts. So we created an event that combined fashion design, music and visual arts. But we put fashion design in the center of attention.
Six young designers presented two of their collections and the audience could vote for their favorite designer. After the show the German band Kuult played some music. During the show there was an exhibition by the young painter Pascal Olders.

The whole gain raised by ticket sells and catering was donated to a good cause.

Kim Chi. Is a designer student at the Fashion Institute in Düsseldorf (Germany) and currently visiting right parents home country in Vietnam. She is mostly interested in ethically and ecologically correct production of textiles. Kim Chi and her team back in Germany are working on a 4-5 years plan to establish their own label. She did not want to miss the opportunity to come to Vietnam without taking a look for herself on the production and labor condition.

The series of images you will see are from two of her collections,

“I have been inspired by political and ethical topics, like human trafficking or abortion. I want to fight for human rights. That is why I connect fashion with these topics.”

Tell us a little about yourself/brand. Where are you from? What is your educational background?
I am Kim Chi from Düsseldorf and I am 22 years old. My parents emigrated from Vietnam to Germany and where they happily became Christian. This is where I pull of for inspiration and motivation everyday. I really enjoyed the Christian education from my lovely parents. But for professional reasons we often had to move away. My sister and I had a hard time because
with every move we also changed schools. You know, for children it is really difficult to find new friends again and again. But the blessing has always been around me. Although I haven’t
had many friends in my childhood, I never gave up on being the best in every manufactured and artistic subject. I found my passion for art. But not only, I also love(d) biology and mathematics. (Laugh) So after I finished high school I started to study fashion design. I truly thank God for all this opportunities I have and his blessing.

What are your general professional and non-professional interests?
Professionally, it is my dream to establish Noona with my team as a new brand 4-5 years from now. Noona, as a brand, is concerned about its social and ecological responsibility. I want to
use Noona as a platform to express my thoughts and feelings attached to those topics like abortion or human trafficking.
But I also like to travel. This is a good way to get to know the many interesting people out there and their perspectives on life. I love diversity! And of course I love my family. They are very special to me and support me unconditionally. They do a lot to support me and my dream.

When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
It all started 6 years ago. I was in Vietnam and ordered custom-made dresses. I designed it and a dressmaker over there offered to manufacture it. But I was quite disappointed and so I
decided to give it a try and sew it by myself – and then the passion for the sewing came. My best friends advised me not to study fashion because of the uncertainty in the fashion industry.
But the more they told me to give up that idea, the bigger was my longing/desire to take the risk. I am really glad that at the end I listened to my heart and anyone else. Now I can live my
dream! Hahaha

What’s it like being in the industry?
We are getting into the industry more and more. Soon we found out how important it is to work with trust-able partners. You need someone who can advise you and who is really interested in your work and understands it. An insider or someone with experience in the textile industry is always of great help. What I also like is visiting the fashion shows and fares. You get to know interesting people and their stories every time and see a lot of crazy and funny stuff.

What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is for me like a two-sided coin. With fashion you can, on one hand, wear like a mask and hide what lies underneath it. But you can also use it to show what makes you, your identity, your attitude to life, belonging to a certain group of peers or even your own story. If you look at the meaning of fashion through history you can see that worn fashion was always also used as a meaning to express a political statement. My collections are for example the result of my analysis with political topics like human trafficking or abortion. It is important for me to show that there is still hope in those areas. And this hope constitutes the aesthetic of
my collections.

How would you describe your style?
I like to work artistically and vanguard. Therefor you can’t say my clothes are really „wearable“. Details are very important. It is there where emotions and feelings, which appear during the creative process, find expression. They are expressed in colors and the cuts I use. But still, the garments need to be elegant. For now, I have only created garment for women, which has got to do a lot with the topics that inspired me.

Where do you get ideas/inspiration to create such amazing pieces?
It sometimes just hits me. Inspiration is all around us. Of course, there are some topics you won’t come up just like that. But I think it’s mostly a matter of awareness. If you want to do good and be part of a positive change, you walk with open eyes and mind through the cities and life in general. It’s often the small things which enrich life. And belief me, you will find something, definitely.

How long does it usually take you to construct a piece?
It depends on the design, the details and the effort I have to put in them. Sometimes I experiment with different materials and then it takes at least a week to finish a piece completely. When there are no problems I usually need around 2-3 days to design and sew a piece.

How do you produce and distribute your designs?
Well, for now, we are researching to establish a socially and  environmentally responsible supply chain. This is a hard piece of work, especially in the fashion industry. I just went to Vietnam this summer and had the opportunity to get in touch with some  industries over there. I am confident that we will succeed with our purpose to sell wearable, fashionable garments that feel good on your skin and your conscience.

What are some of your accomplishments as a designer?
As I want to tell stories with my fashion, the whole concept needs to be consistent. That’s something I work a lot in forehand and select the colors for the collection to be. The textiles are chosen after the sketch is finished. I would describe myself as determined and a bit of a perfectionist as well. I want not only to have the art expressed in the designs but also the cuts need to be perfect. I like to spent a lot of time fixing the cut till it fits perfectly. And consequently, the prototypes and the fitting with the models are all done by myself.

How do you select your models?
I only work with professional models from different modeling agencies. But that’s not all: Dignity is something that I look for in the models I work with. Dignity is something you can lose too easily, especially as a woman who has been a victim of abuse somehow. My work tells a story of strong emotions, of emotional break downs. But it is also a story of hope and strength. There for the models need to have strong and fierce, but still feminine expressions. Thus I work only with professional models from different modeling agencies.

What do you believe makes a quality article of clothing?
In my opinion, the brand doesn’t say anything about the product. It is more the emotions behind the product which make the difference in quality. We frequently pass a shop and let ourselves be aroused by the low prices and fall quickly into a spending spree. The minimal principal is harming us. Products lose their worth by all this  UN-conscious consumption. If you buy fair trade products instead, it is more a willful decision and you treat your product differently. The story of the product and the emotions attached to it are perceived consciously and therefor you treat it with more respect.

How do you prepare for a fashion shoot or show?
Professional models, photographers, makeup artists … – everyone and everything has to be set up and ready for shootings or shows. I used to prepare everything alone but now I have my team who supports me a lot. I like to share my intentions and motivations for the collection. This is elementary for a successful shooting. Everybody involved should be able to identify at least a bit with the collection. Another secret recipe: just have fun and don’t worry about mistakes. They happen. Just make the best out of it.

What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?
As a designer you want to focus on the want really matters: the art, the clothing, the creativity. I was so lucky to find a management team and I can recommend every designer or even models to find a personal manager. What help me to go on are these following thought: You are not allowed to remain on the same level. Accept criticism but never give up. Take risk and always be honest and polite to everyone.

Where can we find more of your grate designs?
You can find my blog at bykimchi.wordpress.com. My team is already working on the launch of the Noona website www.noona-studios.com. So you can look forward to see how we work on the launch of our brand.