Born in Cologne, Germany, to Korean immigrants, Siki Im felt a sense of displacement from an early age. The divide between the Confucian ethics he was taught at home and the world around him led Im as a teenager to seek solace in art and music.
Im earned a scholarship to the Oxford School of Architecture, centering his studies on the subjects of globalization, cultural theories, and sociology. He then moved to New York City to work with architecture firm Archi-Tectonics.
Im never thought of pursuing fashion design as a career until he was introduced to David Vandewal, a stylist and the vice president of design at Club Monaco, who was looking for a new assistant. Im went to work with him and began designing menswear and womenswear. He took evening classes for patternmaking and draping and studied construction and technical aspects of design at home. Im soon landed a job as a designer at Karl Lagerfeld, then became the main designer for both the men’s and women’s lines at Helmut Lang.
In 2009, Im founded his eponymous line of luxury menswear, SIKI IM. “I wanted to build an environment where culture took priority — where culture influenced the work environment, the decision making, and ultimately the product design and consumers it reached,” he says. Produced completely in the United States, the menswear line, while not explicitly unisex, has an appeal that transcends gender.
Each collection is approached as an anthropological analysis, based in research and theory. Im’s goal is for the company to be “a design studio where we approach different languages of design, not just fashion — a full creative cultural studio.” He also continues to make music, which he sees as an extension of this cohesive exploration of art and design.
Awards and Accomplishments
- Samsung Design & Fashion Fund Award (2011)
- Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award for Best New Menswear (2010)