Kim Shui Wants You to Embrace the Tacky

The designer-on-the-rise explains how her multi-cultural upbringing is the key to her meteoric rise.

Kim Shui has been having quite the year. She was named to Forbes‘ 30 Under 30 list, she was ripped off by Fashion Nova (allegedly), and last month she showed yet another show-stopping collection at New York Fashion Week.

Shui, whose career really began to take off after her VFiles Fall/Winter 2016 show at NYFW which featured a then 19-year-old Kylie Jenner front row in a Shui creation, finds inspiration in her eclectic upbringing. She’s of Chinese descent, was reared in Italy, attended college in the United States at Duke, and art school at Central Saint Martins in London.

Shui pulls from all aspects of her background when designing. “when I started out, especially because I grew up in Italy, I always thought that it would be better to approach [designing] from a European point of view,” says Shui. “But then I realized that it’s better to integrate everything and all parts of myself,” she says referencing the strong Chinese influence in her designs, like the collars, silhouettes, and inclusion of brocade fabrics.

The important thing to Kim Shui is that her clothes make those who wear them feel sexy. “Sexy can be anything,” she says, “but I like sexy in a weird and eccentric way. A little bit of High Low. I love having an element where it’s a little bit tacky. Depending on how she wears it, it could be something super tacky but then if she wears it the right way it’s not.” She says she wants people to embrace the tackiness clothes, within reason. “I don’t want it to look costumey,” she says with an earnest smile.

Shui’s brand has become a favorite or starts like Jenner (and her mini-me, Stormi), Gigi Hadid, Solange, Cardi B, and Halsey. It’s also been bolstered by a strong social media presence. “The social element is part of the brand,” says Shui. Shui sees social media like Instagram as a direct line of communication to her customers. “I’ll post a photo and see how people react to it,” she says. “It helps me see what girls want to wear.”

That parts important to Shui – making clothes that people want to wear. “I want to offer girls what they want to wear,” she says. “I don’t just want to have a lot of clothes out in the world, I want to actually dress girls. That’s my most important part.”

Take a walk through some V exclusive behind-the-scenes shots from Shui’s Spring/Summer 20 NYFW show below.

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