When most 15-year-olds were busy torrenting music or pretending they listen to cool artists, Siki Im was creating music — performing, to be precise. “They asked me to sing and scream,” he tells of the band that got him started. But contrary to what one may imagine, the punk rocker who loved skateboarding and graffiti was anything but rebellious.
How the radio-obsessed creative from Germany became a fashion designer is a story that’s been told many times since his New York Fashion Week debut. Graduating from England’s Oxford School of Architecture, he continued to work as an architect until one fateful weekend, when he met designer-turned-legendary-stylist David Vandewal. Vandewal took a liking to Im’s outfit and immediately offered him an assistant job at Club Monaco, where he was then the Vice President of Design. Im has a COMME des GARÇONS shirt, Dior jeans and Air Jordan 1s to thank for this unforeseen career change.
Although unintended, Im’s professional transition was not a surprising one. “Architecture is really a science applied from notions of psychology and even spirituality. It deals with everything from gender to politics to economics. And it’s the same with fashion,” he told i-D last year. Other notable architects who’ve ventured into fashion are: Pierre Balmain, who originally studied architecture in Paris; Rem Koolhaas, who co-founded shoe brand United Nude; and Zaha Hadid, who once created an exclusive bag for Louis Vuitton in 2012. Although the scale and technical details may differ between fashion and architecture, fundamentally, they are both about realizing a concept with a given set of materials and spatial problems to solve. Im’s disciplined academic training, combined with his inherent talent and watchful eye on culture at large, made him the perfect candidate to become an influential clothing designer.
Beyond the surface of his clothes, there exists much more than just nostalgic references to the past. There’s always a deeper intellectual element — a modern challenge — in his designs. Take, for example, his Spring/Summer 2015 “Human/ Machine” collection, in which he explored the effect of technology on human interaction. His thesis was that with things like personal electronics taking over our daily lives, clothes play an increasingly important role in expressing our emotions. The result was a lineup of clothes that were both futuristic and organic, warm and cool, structured and ergonomic. Siki Im is definitely an existentialist.
Read the full story in Highsnobiety Magazine Issue 12, now available for purchase through our online shop as well as at fine retailers worldwide.
- Words & Styling:Elaine YJ Lee
- Photography:Thomas Welch
- Photography Assistant:Bryan Luna
- Hair & Make-Up:Sheri Pinto