The H&M Design Award judging panel, including designer Jonathan Saunders, stylist Leith Clark and blogger Hanneli Mustaparta, have found the new fashion star of the future. All the finalists were in with a chance to watch their design career sky-rocket with an in-store collaboration with H&M and a catwalk show at Stockholm Fashion Week and a cash prize of 50,000.
They said: "In the end there was one designer who impressed us with their creativity, craftsmanship and their
delightfully obsessive approach to their work and that person is Minju Kim!"
Minju Kim is a 26-year old student in her final masters year on the fashion course of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Her BA collection, titled "Dear My Friend" won her the H&M Design Award 2013, chosen by an international jury of fashion experts.
The collection was inspired by Japanese Manga cartoonist Ito Junji, with Minju first sketching her characters and then transforming these into fantastical, colourful outfits. What caught the judges eyes were not just her colours and shapes, but the advanced level of craftsmanship in each piece. Watch her incredible winning show here:
"I knew how important it was to make them as perfect as possible," says Minju. "When clothing is crazy, people dont expect them to be clean and finished. I wanted to prove that it can be done, that I really care about the finish. I want my designs to be real fashion."
Minju is from South Korea, where she studied fashion at the Samsung Art and Design Institute. "It was really good to study there, where I learned how to make clothes and the importance of craftmanship. But they are more commercial, and I wanted to be a bit more crazy. I was always in another world, dreaming of beauty and fantasy." It was clear to Minju that she should continue her study at one of the worlds most respected fashion institutions.
She applied for Parsons in New York, Central Saint Martins is London and the Royal Academy in Antwerp. She won places at all three. "When I visited Antwerp to sit the entrance exam, I felt like it was the place where I had to study, where all the students are allowed to be different and free, so I chose Antwerp." She now studies under course director, the noted designer Walter van Bierendonck. "I really like it there, she says. I feel like Ive finally found myself. Its my own style thats coming out."
Minju has now made it through to the prestigious final year of the course, where she will present her final collection this coming June. Minju then intends to gain valuable experience before launching her career. "Ive not done any internships yet," she says. "I want to train with other people, and see how other designers work. I also need to do more study away from fashion. After that, when Im ready, then of course I want to have my own label. Winning the H&M Design Award 2013 has been such a surprise for me, and also an amazing start."