Travelling to South Korea has always been a great treat. 2019 has been special on its own; apart from working at the Busan International Film Festival, I was able to experience Seoul Fashion Week for the first time, during which I also had a pleasure to meet Patrick Kim, an articulate, bubbly and amiable model.
Picture it: Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza. After watching Ul:Kin‘s fashion show, Patrick was patiently waiting for me at one of the many Plaza’s cafes. He greets me with the biggest smile I have ever seen and, with excellent English, courteously invites me to take a seat. Without realising we were about to have the most amusing conversation about the world of fashion, and Patrick’s life, we quickly got ourselves a coffee and commenced with a friendly chat.
Photo © Esquire Korea
Patrick is a down-to-earth young man without a big ego; he is confident in what he does, but he also knows how to be humble. While he never had a goal of becoming a fashion model, Patrick took a chance upon his friend’s suggestion: “I wasn’t inspired by anyone to become a model. On the contrary, one of my friends is a designer, and when I came back to Korea to do my military service, my friend wanted me to be a model, and, a few days later, I started my career as a model,” he laughs. “Instead of going to the army, I debuted at Seoul Fashion Week and did 8 shows, and right after that, I went to Milan and London.” explains Patrick.
After modelling for almost 3 years, Patrick gained a vast amount of experience while participating in SFW and travelling abroad. Even so, he still finds the industry frustrating, as he explains: “Cancelling the job right before the show can get very annoying. I remember I was in London, about to do my first show. I was ready and excited, ready to go and then, they just cancelled on me on the day of the show. This kind of thing can sometimes get to you.”
“But, after all this time, I am chilled. I try not to stress myself too much, at the end of the day, it is my job [laughs]. Life and work… I will surely put my life first,” Patrick adds.
He also realised that the more relaxed you are about life, the more things come your way; things that you desire and wish to achieve are merely around the corner. Now that he is a family man, he definitely appreciates having a steady life with his wife. He does respects the fact that modelling is going well for him, but it doesn’t dictate his existence.
Photo © Ryan Kim
While many models in the industry desperately hold on to what they have and go through drastic preparations for runway season, whether it’s Summer/Spring or Autumn/Winter, Patrick confesses that when he does runways, he shows that he won’t overwork himself for modelling and also demonstrates that, while he cares for the job, he is slightly indifferent whether he gets it or not. But, what does he really thinks when he’s on the runway?: “I always think what I might do after a show, for instance, what I am going to eat or where I might go etc., I just keep it cool, that’s all,” he laughs.
While the fashion industry has become more diverse, progress is still needed as there is a visible lack of representation by people of colour in the Western fashion market, and it is high time to make Asian models part of the bigger network as well. Even though the rising popularity of Korean models is bringing this change, Patrick himself, before touching the ground of a fashion model, was faced with discrimination. But, with that experience in mind, he still tries to see the positive side to growing demand for Korean models: “I spent my childhood in Iowa, USA, and I did face racism and discrimination back then. As the town I lived in was in the countryside, there were only a few people aware of Koreans. [Anything Korean, including people] weren’t popular at all. But [over a decade later] I have noticed the number of Korean fashion models and artists, for that matter, have increased. I see it as a positive change, simply because there are more opportunities and adjustments for Korean [Asian] models. [Also] Recognition of Korean culture added to that change.”
Photo © Harper’s BAZAAR Korea
Patrick has worked for various established fashion designers; he has also countless editorial work, however, with all that he has accomplished, there are surely things he still would like to achieve, or a box to check off: “I have always loved shooting for magazines, I might even love it more than doing a catwalk. But with time, and after all the editorial work, I haven’t had a chance to be on a cover page yet. I do desire to do a solo cover page for a major magazine one day,” Patrick admits.
Outside of modelling Patrick likes to feel comfortable in the clothes he wears. A couple of years ago he was into skinny jeans, but nowadays he goes for oversized tops and bottoms, pointing out that Raf Simons is one of his favourite brands right now. Patrick can be easily distinguished from other models, not only by his natural look but also for his sharp facial features; let’s be honest, his beauty is indisputable.
There is no denial that modelling is a very demanding industry that leaves little time for relaxation, and the constant pressures related to models’ looks and lifestyles are nothing short of overwhelming in many cases. However, even in the busiest times for Patrick, he knows how to unwind, adding that: “Whenever I have free time I really like to spend it with my wife. I also love to travel.” Pressure related to getting the best job is also common in the fashion industry, and sometimes that pressure gets to Patrick, but he is not alone: “My wife, she is my biggest support. She is a very strong person, I think stronger than me when it comes to life. Whenever I feel down and I am in need of encouragement, I can always turn to my wife,” he confesses.
What makes Patrick successful? His willpower, versatility and his intellect. Patrick has personality to spare which makes him successful in photographers’ and designers’ eyes. One can see that he has the ability to think that there is, and will be, a life after modelling. Now, that he is ready to perform compulsory military service for the next 20 months, we hope that he will keep a clear outcome in mind when it comes to modelling, so that when he is ready to perform again, he does it with great conviction.
We’d like to thank A.Conic for their assistance with the interview and Patrick Kim who kindly took the time to answer our questions.
Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Roxy Simons
All Photos © Courtesy of the Photographers, A.Conic and the aforementioned magazines.