Fashion is an expansive narrative of the abstract because when we really look at it and talk about it, good or bad, it taps all segments of society, the net is wide. Recently, we ‘looked and talked about’ the political statement Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Tax the Rich” dress made at The Met Gala. Technological advances in algorithms have us ‘talking about’ how warped the reality can be on fashion brands dependency on robots to determine what consumers want. Yes, this is all under the narrative of fashion and its role in our society.
Fashion is about conviction. Designers are a force of nature when it comes to what they believe in and how they communicate through their designs. Fashion has a social and behavioral connotation to how one is perceived, one’s own identity, but on a larger scale, it can lead or influence a cultural movement. Consciously or unconsciously, we use fashion to alter, enhance, or sedate our state of being, our emotional connection with life. Projecting a positive, feel-good stance, we can look at fashion as a supportive influence in doing good deeds in our society.
What is important to me is how much ‘good influence’ you have on society through fashion. – Bomin Kim, designer for BlueTamburin
김보민 Bomin Kim, designer for 블루템버린 BlueTamburin, leverages fashion’s ability to have a ‘good influence’ on society. She says, “fashion touches all fields of society: art and culture, politics and philosophy, science and technology, society and commerce. I think this is the biggest charm and power of fashion. What is important to me is how much ‘good influence’ you have on society through fashion. I want to make people beautiful and the world beautiful through good influence.”
Born and raised in Seoul, Korea, Kim is an emerging designer who has showcased two major collections this year. The philosophy behind “Personas”, the Fall/Winter 21 (FW21) collection, presented at Vancouver Fashion Week, resonates with identifying all the personas you have. Everyone has multiple and diverse personas that playout in our daily lives depending on the push and pull of cultural norms. Her collection suggests the freedom to display these personalities through fashion, even some you may not even know of. She says, “I wanted to allow individuals to express their diverse personas through fashion. I wanted to help you express yourself in the most wonderful and most beautiful way that you want to be, and that you didn’t know you were.”
Beauty, along with a socially positive outlook, is at the core of Kim’s designs and the focus of the BlueTamburin brand, hence the slogan,“ Beautiful People Beautiful Lives”. The brand, helmed by a partnership of two, aims to become a socially positive brand, influencing and uplifting the “value of people’s lives and society”. 이건호 Gunho Lee, the other half of the partnership, is the CEO who heads up the publicity and operations side of the brand. The paring of Kim and Lee are unique given her creative background and Lee’s military and corporate career. Lee was a military officer, part-leader of the corporate planning office of one of the top 10 companies in Korea, and aide to the Korean National Assembly. The common ground of fashion’s positive influence on society is their mission. And their name is quite fitting. Lee describes the name, BlueTamburin, “like the double meaning of blue, it contains the meaning of wanting to make people happy, like the tambourine (tamburin), a pleasant instrument that anyone can easily play, whether happy or sometimes gloomy.”
BlueTamburin’s second collection, “Touch” (Spring/Summer ’22, SS22) presented at New York Fashion Week, explores more ‘personas’ through touch within the global diversity of people. Kim says, “touch means ‘sympathy, comfort, and encouragement’. It was meant to empathize and comfort the diversity of individuals and society expressed as personas through touch, and to encourage them to expand further.”
Collections are usually designed to relate by materials, color, and lines, however in the Touch collection, each look is solo in representing, as Kim describes, different personas. But I must say, the collection compels you to want to ‘touch’ the extraordinary fabric used. Each ensemble features texture through draping, layering, shine, lace, ornamentation, pleating, tucking, printing, asymmetrical lines – a mesmerizing courage of conviction.
Fashion is a very suitable material for expressing the diversity of individuals and society. – Bomin Kim
Overall, Kim aesthetically lays out the case of fashion’s role in individualism, identity separation, and the positive influence it has on society. She says, “fashion is a very suitable material for expressing the diversity of individuals and society. We want to help people to respect diversity through fashion, and to help diversity in society be respected through social activities. This is what I think is a good influence. This is why we are aiming to become a social impact fashion brand that creates a beautiful world through various social activities as well as beautiful fashion design.”
Well said. And in our interview, Kim talks about the symbolic nature and social context of the materials used. With her artistic hand she creates objects that can sustain generation after generation, but when asked about her practice on sustainable fashion, her answer went beyond what you would think. A social initiative that is admirable.
RP Hill: Congratulations, 김보민 Bomin Kim, on the exposure of your work.
Talk to us about the concept and design philosophy behind “Personas”. Your composition is a mix of materials with an overall look of suiting. How does “freedom and formality” fit into your execution?
BK: The philosophy of the 21FW BlueTamburin Collection was ‘PERSONAS’. Persona is the inner self. Everyone has different personas. However, depending on the social and cultural rules, sometimes the unwanted side of me or only one side of me is shown. I wanted to allow individuals to express their diverse personas through fashion. I wanted to help you express yourself in the most wonderful and most beautiful way that you want to be, and that you didn’t know you were.
In the 21FW collection, I used denim as the main fabric. Denim, symbolized by jeans, is a material that symbolizes freedom. I made a suit, a symbol of formality, out of denim, a symbol of freedom. This is because the design of BlueTamburin is a brand that captures both freedom and formal persona at the same time.
As such, my basic design philosophy is the discovery of one’s own persona. It’s really cool to be able to express this in fashion. Through fashion, people can express the self they want to show, the more wonderful self-hidden within them, and the side they long for through fashion. When a person looks like that, he really becomes that person. This is a great thing. As a fashion designer, presenting trends is not just about showing style.
It’s also not just about predicting what our fans want next season. It is my job to express people’s hidden desires, that is, their dreams and hopes. To do that, we need to constantly think about the values of people’s lives and society. I enjoy it.
Expressing people’s happy lives and social values in each season is a basic rule of thumb to set the concept and get inspiration for your own collection. BlueTamburin shows this in fashion through freedom and formality.
RP Hill: I am fascinated by your approach to design. What technique would best describe your artistic hand and essence of your work? For example: textile manipulation; unique pattern engineering or design construction; draping; your use of color; etc.
BK: I am particularly confident in understanding clothes structurally. My strength is the ability to freely interchange between flat patterns and draping patterns that make the human body look beautiful while being comfortable for activities. I can sew both oriental and western fabrics, so mixed sewing with any fabric is possible. In particular, I’ve heard a lot of compliments about the mix and match of the fabrics. But above all else, my talent as a designer I want to show off is the ability to empathize.
RP Hill: Empathy is rare in this business. What a wonderful ability you have, Bomin, to tap into people’s emotions, their lives, gaining insight on how to design meaningful fashion.
BK: Yes, I have strength in listening to other people’s stories and making clothes they want and want to wear. I find it rewarding to get people to express who they want to be. This is possible by constantly paying attention to people’s lives, listening to their stories, and thinking from their point of view. Especially for me, being a mom and working with various people through living abroad has been a huge help.
RP Hill: There’s no question your collections have artistic value, show quality in make, and most of all will have a long life cycle, pieces that are coveted and passed down from generation to generation. Are there other areas of your business practice that are sustainable?
BK: The sustainability I pursue is the sustainability of society. This is a broader meaning than the sustainability of the environment or the sustainability of specific values. The core of my design is “people(human)”. Therefore, the sustainability of fashion I pursue also starts with genuinely cherishing people.
BlueTamburin is not just a fashion brand, but a brand based on social impact activities. I want to pursue the sustainability of people’s lives through the brand BlueTamburin. I want to work with you to create a society where people are the most important and where everyone is respected.
It also protects and promotes the creativity of designers. The creativity of designers to make others happy should definitely be protected. To this end, BlueTamburin also provides design copyright protection services for fashion designers. BlueTamburin provides design consulting services through fashion design communication. At the same time, we provide design copyright service by utilizing NFT, a blockchain technology (Details can be found on the BlueTamburin’s mother company, RUBICONS website, www.rubicons.net).
RP Hill: The future of fashion has many roads it can travel. Roads less travelled and for the good of fashion (investing in beauty and longevity while protecting people and planet) are best. Bomin Kim and I both see fashion as a communicator and Kim believes creativity and communication are the future of fashion. She says, “in my opinion, the first value of fashion is ‘creativity’. And the second value is communication. I creatively express my values through fashion and communicate with people. Communication, based on creativity, will become a driving force to lead the future of fashion.”
Congratulations to 김보민 Bomin Kim and 이건호 Gunho Lee. EDGE wishes you continued success creating fashion to have a ‘good influence’ on society.
Images: courtesy of 블루 탬버린 BlueTamburin.
More information on 블루템버린 BlueTamburin at website, bluetamburin.com.