Hyoungkee Kim is the founder of the clothing label, KEENKEEE based in Seoul. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. You can call me ‘Kee’. I have been running a clothing label called ‘KEENKEEE’ since 2010 and I am currently pursuing a MFA at the Yale University, School of Art.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? The biggest issue (a concern as well) might be my personal projects in school. As a graphic designer, I am interested in the new relationship between Information-Technology and material. Since I have just started my 2nd year in the MFA program, it means that I should articulate my ideas for a thesis. In terms of my brand, I just finished manufacturing and delivering 14FW ‘Octopus’ so you should check it at Opening Ceremony NY and LA.
How did your interest in art or fashion begin? When I was a kid, I just wanted to be a cartoonist. I was kind of a nerd for Japanese Manga like ‘Dragon Ball’, ’Slam Dunk’, and so on. In addition, I am a loyal listener of Hip-Hop music. Another one of my big interests is sports, especially basketball and boxing because of my physical practice. Manga, Hip-Hop, and sports are the things that raised me as a designer. Though, I am not too sure how it all worked out exactly.
If you had to explain your work or brand to a stranger, what would you say? “Hmmm… here it is (while showing images of the look book with my IPhone).” Or I would just ask them to Google search ‘Keenkeee’. What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I prefer sport/active wear friendly high-tech fabrics. Those also go so well with high-resolution printing methods, for example, sublimation printing. My clothing would be nothing without my digital textile/printing work, which is why I usually initiate design scheme with very visual motif in regards to print.
What artists or designers are you interested in right now? Nike, as a designer collective, I respect them. Tauba Auerbach, an artist I like. What’s your favorite thing about your city? New Haven, Connecticut: Here it is like a monastery since all I can do here is focus on my personal practice and my major, graphic design. I love this condition a lot and yes, I am living on campus as a master’s degree candidate!
What are your thoughts about the fashion scene in New Haven? Silkscreened-‘YALE’-sweatshirts are the hottest item here. What was the last collection you saw that stuck out to you? I tend to be bored pretty easily with my collection. However, it is so amazing to see real consumers who are wearing my label through Instagram. Some of them are celebrities. Today, I just got a photo message from a guy via Instagram—inn the photo, he was standing next to Miley Cyrus, who was wearing KEENKEEE.
What is your beverage of choice when working in your studio? Water, absolutely. I always have both plain and sparkling waters in my fridge at all times. What are you really excited about right now? Starting my second year in the fall semester, experimenting, and my thesis.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? Worst: They didn’t purchase it.