German-born Siki Im graduated from Oxford School of Architecture in London before moving to New York in 2001. He worked as a Senior Designer for Karl Lagerfeld and Helmut Lang respectively before launching his eponymous menswear label in 2009. He won the Ecco Domani fashion award before staging his first-ever runway show, which took place at Bryant Park in 2010. Siki Im, whose collections are available for purchase in Antwerp, Milan, Seoul, Seattle and just about every major fashion hub in between, is anything but unaccomplished. On the heels of showing REMORSE, his mind-blowingly beautiful Spring/Summer 2014 collection, which stemmed from his research of "prisons, hospitals, institutions," we caught up with New York fashion's claim to conceptual menswear fame. Im, who is objectively quite talented beyond his years, talks about how his brand is different, womenswear, what he's reading (and thus, what may end up on the runway next season), and more ...
The Fashion Law – How do you think Siki Im, the brand, is different from others?
Siki Im – We don't want to be different for the sake of being different. We want to be honest to ourselves and do great and fun stuff. Maybe that is the difference?
The Fashion Law - Also maybe because you never intended to get into fashion.
Siki Im – I really didn’t plan to become a fashion designer. I studied at the Oxford School of Architecture and worked as an architect in Germany, Korea and America before I moved into fashion. I would always love fashion. I never really thought I wanted to do fashion, I just liked what people were doing and the expression, and then I accidentally fell into it.
The Fashion Law – Your collections, especially when they are in runway show format, are really on another level - an art level. We all know that fashion is necessarily very commercial in nature. How do you manage to combine the two and make collections that are commercial?
Siki Im – Both of those elements are essential and you have to make both equally happy, but at the end of the day, the designer needs to be happy.
The Fashion Law – You won the Ecco Domani fashion award in 2010 – for your first collection. That was obviously a huge boost for you to be named among the likes of the past winners (Alexander Wang, Rodarte, Proenza Schouler, and Zac Posen, among others). Having such high praise from the very beginning, do you feel that also brought pressure to live up to something very high right from the beginning?
Siki Im – I have been very fortunate. To be honest, I pressure myself a lot. I want to make beautiful garments and not only stimulate people but myself. To do this every season takes a lot of energy.
The Fashion Law – Aside from Karl and Helmut Lang, who you worked with, what designers do you really admire or look up to most?
Siki Im – I love the 90s Belgiums and Japanese ones. But I look up to so many (not for aesthetics) because I know how not easy this is.
The Fashion Law – When you are not working (on your collection and/or at Parsons, where you teach), how do you like to spend your free time?
Siki Im – I read a lot. I am in a band. I go jogging, meditation and hang with friends, who are not in fashion.
The Fashion Law – You are a bit different from other designers in New York. Do you feel like NYC is a good home for your brand? Do you ever feel the desire to relocate your business, to Paris maybe or back to Germany, or elsewhere?
Siki Im – I think about it a lot actually. But the grass is not greener. I feel very much at home here in NYC and everyone is a foreigner. This gives much peace.
The Fashion Law – The books you read are very often the source of inspiration for collections to come (like Lord of the Flies, The Cultures of Globalization by Fredric Jameson, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki, and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky). So, I have to ask – what are you reading now?
Siki Im – Right now I'm reading Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders and When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.
The Fashion Law – You've spoken in the past about womenswear. What is the status of those intentions?
Siki Im – My intentions are high! ;)
The Fashion Law – What are you obsessed with right now? What makes you happy?
Siki Im – Music, autumn, meditation, and grilled cheese with truffle oil.