Kwantlen grad Nam Hee Kim sees big opportunity in vegan fashion
Nam Hee Kim dreams of designing her own self-branded vegan clothing collection, like Stella McCartney. At 24 years old, she’s started down the path by putting together a line of animal-friendly clothes for the annual fashion show at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
On April 3, the Burnaby resident presented her VEO collection at the year-end grad show, held at the River Rock Show Theatre in Richmond. A couple weeks later, Kim told the Straight that students in Kwantlen’s fashion design and technology program are asked to research a niche market for their final projects.
“I’m a huge animal lover, and I was always against animal cruelty,” Kim said by phone from the Fraser Valley. “Having that always in my mind got me to look into that area more thoroughly than other interests.”
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Kim moved to Canada when she was 10 years old. Now, her goal is to gain work experience in the fashion industry in Vancouver or New York City, hopefully starting with a designer-assistant job at Lululemon Athletica that she’s eyeing.
Kim, who is a flexitarian and gets a lot of inspiration from Vivienne Westwood, takes a dim view of the current state of vegan fashion. “If you’re a vegan, it is hard to find any clothes that are fashionable,” Kim said. “From my research, it’s hard to find a coat that’s not made out of wool and cashmere. It’s hard to find clothing like that, that doesn’t have any products like that.”
So, she’s hoping her “very on-style, on-trend” grad collection, which uses fabrics such as cotton and Tencel, will be the start of a career in which she’s able to make a contribution to vegan apparel. While she’s drawn to professional women’s wear for 18-to-35-year-olds, Kim can easily see herself designing men’s and kids’ clothing in the future.
“There’s so many other options that you can go with instead of using animal products,” Kim said. “You don’t have to kill little innocent animals to make something beautiful. So I just wanted to make that clear to people in Vancouver, because right now vegans are booming in Vancouver. There are more and more people who are now aware of animal cruelty, and they are willing to do something about it.”