By Sonia Sly
When asked to describe herself, Korean Kiwi designer, Cherry Kim, is stumped.
“My best friend Zoe describes me as vivacious, slick, finger on the pulse, forward-thinking, chill, ambitious, hustler and a risk taker,” she says.
Late last year, Cherry took a leap to the bright lights of New York, armed with a desire to push herself outside of her comfort zone.
On arrival, she landed a role as the Design and E-commerce Assistant at Veda – a brand she discovered while researching sustainable practice.
“When I first moved here, I was completely desperate for a job and dropped off resumes and portfolios to fashion head offices,” Cherry says.
That included a stop at La Garconne. But walking through the doors of a large, open office she freaked out, “I walked myself out in a second,” she says.
That intimidation quickly faded. Six months later she was appointed as their Assistant Stylist.
During her short stint in New York she has already clocked up some exciting credentials, including assisting stylist Yeyoung Kim on a shoot for Dazed and Confused. Cherry has also styled U.S rapper Diggy Simmons for Wonderland Magazine, and Rina Sawayama for Oyster - an editorial shot by one of Cherry’s favourite photographers, James Robinson.
The scale of New York is a far cry from life in New Zealand. It’s intense, creative and she’s working with international talent who are at the top of their game - something she couldn’t do back home.
“Meeting [people in the fashion industry here happens] much more organically and opportunities follow easily,” she says.
Check out her sophisticated womenswear collection, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ on the New Kid Directory.
The AUT fashion design graduate has put design on the back burner for now.
Due to the complexities of the industry, and issues around sustainability, Cherry would rather make one-off pieces for editorial shoots and friends and family, which just isn’t feasible as a designer. But in transitioning across to styling, she’s able to use her edgy, editorial eye in a highly creative part of the industry.
But while she’s ambitious, Cherry isn’t one for setting goals. So far that seems to be working in her favour.
“I always used to set goals [and] then feel depleted if I didn’t achieve them by a certain time,” Cherry says.
“A lot of unexpected things have fallen into my life, so [I want to have] an open mind and see where my career goes.”
Cherry has Korean roots, and has visited South Korea a number of times over the past decade.
“Being Korean is a huge part of my life [and] I appreciate the ability to speak Korean and communicate with my extended family,” she says.
“Now that I’m older, I have a greater desire to dig deeper into my cultural roots, which [have felt] unfamiliar [for me] as a first-generation Kiwi,” she says.
For now, Cherry is embracing the fast, immersive pace of New York, riding the pulse of it’s heartbeat and the abundant energy and creativity that surrounds her.
But she also misses New Zealand and the ready access to nature, friends and family, including her mother, who Cherry says helped her to lay the foundation for her highly creative eye.
“New Zealand’s isolation [allowed me] to switch off and on, [and that’s] so difficult to do in New York, where the pace is unparalleled to anywhere I’ve [ever] been,” she says.
Editorial Images: Top image - Styling by Cherry Kim / Photography by Danny Lim / Make up by Maggie Mondanile / Model Sasha Knysh @ MUSE. Bottom image - Designs & Styling: Cherry Kim (Smoke and Mirrors Collection),Photographer: Adam Bryce / Makeup: Abbie Ahmed / Hair: Jessica Taylor /Model: Fabienne @ Red11 Models