Jia Kim ’11

Swat Style Snapshot: Biology & Studio Art, New York, NY, Wharton

Her Current Outfit:

Kim is wearing a floral crop top over a fitted high-waisted skirt. To accessorize, she carries a gray woven bag by Steve Madden and sports white and tan Oxfords from Urban Outfitters. The top evokes a sense of effortless casualness but in fact, Kim made the cropped tank herself since she wanted a change from her usual preference for longer tops. She designed this top with a layered effect. “I recently learned a fabric cut in circular shape flows better and falls naturally,” she said.

Making Her Own Garments:

Looking back, Kim remembers her aunts making quilts and shirts throughout her childhood, and believes garment-making runs in the family. “Growing up I was surrounded by people who had sewing machines. But I started to sew during my sophomore year when I took costume design here [which is] taught by the theatre department,” Kim said. Since then, Kim has completed two internships during her sophomore and junior years, at Adidas. She has also worked as a seamstress for the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s production of “Romeo and Juliet.” As Kim’s commitments take place mainly outside campus, according to her, “I rarely stay in Swarthmore … I’m always in Philly.”
In fact, Kim has her own Singer sewing machine in her dorm room. The Singer comes in handy for Kim when she designs and sews blazers, which are her signature wardrobe staple. “I make all of my blazers,” she said. She currently owns four, which she wears in rotation. However, her practice in garment-making is still new. “I’ve never learned formally how to make [garments],” she said. “Whenever I see in a store something I can make, I never buy it. I look at how it’s made.” She then tries to recreate the garment herself, starting by making her patterns from scratch 

Her Interest in Fashion Design:

A biology and studio arts double major, Kim is passionate about fashion design and will be hosting her senior art thesis exhibition at the List Gallery next week, which will feature dresses she made with architectural elements.

Architecture, which is another passion for Kim, inspired this collection. Next fall, she plans to study architecture at The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design (PennDesign) and to eventually launch her own fashion line.

Growing up, Kim admits that she was a tomboy and an unlikely candidate for fashion design because she was surrounded by males. “I always had an interest in fashion, it just came really late,” she said. When Kim watched a televised fashion show of Haider Ackermann, an avant-garde inspired womenswear designer, her interest in fashion was piqued. “I was fascinated by his stuff. That was the starting point that pushed me into [fashion design],” Kim said.

Her Fashion Inspirations:

From day to day, Kim is mostly influenced by the weather in selecting her ensembles. “I look outside the window and just decide what to wear,” she said.

But in terms of inspiration for creating garments, she studies and appreciates Haider Ackermann’s work, and ignores the rest of the fashion industry. “I’m not into any fashion designers … Fashion week fashion shows are not interesting but Haider Ackermann is a source of inspiration,” she said. In particular, Kim is drawn to Ackermann since the designer incorporates architectural elements and a semi-formal flair in his garments, which parallels Kim’s own design aesthetic.

Do you think you (or a professor) have great style? Then submit a photo of you in your best outfit to sjeong1@swarthmore.edu. Please include your name and contact information.

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