The Interwoven Designs of J.Kim: Uzbek Craft Meets Traditional Korean Elements

This interview was featured in our most recent issue, TITLE(D) #6: The Global Passport.

Jenia Kim, aka J.Kim, is a fashion designer whose work is inspired by her heritage of Uzbekistan and Korea. With her eponymous label, launched in 2013, J.Kim designs for modern, nonconformist women, making use of Uzbek artisans, vintage fabrics, and bold prints in combination with forms that appeal to her Korean roots.

Personal Information

If you could rename yourself, what would it be?

Diana. This is how I was meant to be named. And I recently thought about how, if I were Diana, I would be a completely different person. Perhaps, I would be more high-femme, more of a family woman, as I believe names influence peoples’ characters a lot.

What would your avatar look like?

It would be a hermit monk. For some reason, I can see myself in a male guise. This is a person way older than me, living somewhere in the woods, and possessing a superpower allowing him to communicate with nature. 

What’s your launching date?

2013. This is the starting point from which to count the history of my brand, when I first formed my artistic vision and set out to do things like and as a professional designer.

What’s your emotional age?

I think something like 60 or 70.

What’s your spirit animal?

A tortoise.

Where is home?

Somewhere remote, on a mountain, in the woods, but close to the water.

Travel Information

What’s the place where you feel like you can be you?

In real life, I feel absolutely calm and relaxed when I’m in the water, preferably, in the ocean, and I float on my back, limbs spread out in a star shape. I generally feel protected when there are no people around and I can lie down like that.

What has informed the direction of your path?

Lately, I discovered that what I do, fashion design, is not a result of my diligence or otherworldly factors but is my predestination and I could have never been doing anything else. I think that was decided before my birth. Everyone in my family is so creative and I was supposed to realize all of my kin’s effort in my brand.

What was the last border you crossed?

Uzbekistan border, last time I returned from a trip.

How and where have you been stamped?

In Frankfurt, on my way from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Personal Journey Information

How and where does your privilege manifest?

I think my biggest privilege is the fact that my parents always support me. It turns out, that is a rare thing.

How do you connect?

Through my collections. It’s very difficult for me to express my thoughts and feelings through words, it only works when I communicate them visually.

What food warms your soul, or reminds you of home?

Home-style fried potatoes. And also pabi-muri, a typical Koryo-saram, or Soviet Korean, dish: boiled white rice that is covered with water and eaten with water. It sounds somewhat weird, but this is what I associate with home.

Can you name a happy accident you’ve had?

One evening out in the city, when I was on the edge from despair and a desire to give up on my fashion career, I was, in some miraculous way and for the first time ever, recognized by not one but a whole five random strangers, and the last of them gave me a spontaneous pep talk and told me not to give up.