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‘I will carry on my father’s spirit of service, but want to diversify my businessesSays Fashion Designer Jungdo Kim, only son of Maestro Andre Kim

Youthful fashion designer, Jungdo Kim (the only son of Fashion Maestro Andre Kim) said that he will carry on the spirit of service of his father for the clientele but that he will also try to diversify the range of his fashion business beyond of range of high fashions pursued his father. In 1966, Le Figaro of France called Andre Kim a ‘Magician from the Fairyland.’ After he passed away in 2010, the Andre Kim Fashion House was taken over by his son, Jungdo Kim, who later moved the noted Korean fashion boutique to a nearby building for a larger space. Jungdo wears the same fashion designer’s mark but the color is black in contrast with the all-white trade-mark dress his father used to wear.

Fashion Maestro Andre Kim (right, foreground) poses with his only son, Jungdo Kim, at a fashion parade held in Barcelona of Spain on the occasion of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

So, will the son emulate the late Andre Kim? The Korea Post recently conducted an extensive interview with Jungdo Kim at his new Andre Kim Boutique, about 10 minutes’ walking distance from the original fashion house of Andre Kim.“No, sir!” said Jungdo Kim. “I will never be his match no matter how hard I may try all my life!” The junior Kim was a modest, condescending man, to be sure. However, he was determined to work hard to keep up the good name of his father—and beyond. Details of the interview follow:

Fashion Maestro Andre Kim (fourth from left, front row) poses with models at the final stage of the fashion parade. TV-movie male stars Lee Ki-u and Choi Sung-joon are seen second and third from right with top star Ms. Kim Hee-sun and top male movies star Kim Rae-won on her right.

Question: Andre Kim is a big name in the fashion world even today, to speak nothing of the immeasurable popularity he enjoyed among the ambassadors and madams. How is the Andre Kim Fashion House is run today?

Answer: I am doing my best to keep up the good name created by my father. Beginning this year, I am trying to diversify the business. Sometime ago, at the request of the Seoul City Government, we are making some specialized uniforms and we are making preparations to take part in the 365 Fashion Parade slated in the upcoming March this year. I am also planning to enlarge the range of our licensed business in the form of business collaboration.

American Movie Star Michael Jackson presenting a performance clad in a unique dragon design suit created by the late Andre Kim.

Q: Andre Kim passed away suddenly in the opinion of many people. Did the maestro have enough time to bequeath e the wealth of fashion designing he has personally created?

A: To tell the truth, my father suggested to me how I would wish to take over the fashion business from him and for that purpose to undergo training. This was shortly before my entrance examination for the university and I told him of my plan that was way apart from his wishes that I become a fashion designer. At the time, I thought that no matter how hard I should try, I would not be able to make myself as tall as my father. And I just wanted to lead a simple person’s life. I told this to my father and he did not make any objection. My father would not obstinately oppose even when I made a proposal that came 100% different from his view.

Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media, an old personal friend of the late Fashion Maestro Andre Kim, left, interviews Jungdo Kim (the only son of the late Andre Kim). The interview took place at the new Andre Kim Atelier, barely a five-minute walking distance from the old boutique used by his father.

Now, with my father suddenly gone, there was no one but me who could take over his business. So, I took over and started taking over the work of my father. I was 31 years old at that time and there was a lot of problem taking over his job. It was especially so because it was not my professional field at that time. It was not east the time. However, soon I started overcoming problems gradually because I stayed much of my time with my father even during my early boyhood. I accompanied my father in various business trips, at home and abroad, closely watched my father’s work. This was a great help to me when I started taking over his business after his passage.

From Left: Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post; Ambassadors Vikram Kumar Doraiswami of India, Abida Islam of Bangladesh and Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka; CEO Kim Joong-do of the Andre Kim Fashion Boutique; and Ambassador Nozuko Gloria Bam of South Africa.

Q: In many of the fashion parades staged by your father, popular movie stars and other celebrities modeled attracting the attention of many people. Are you planning a similar fashion event in the near future?

A: Yes. I have been planning such an event for a long time. However, there was a lot of work to do after the passage of my father. All the same, it is very important to carry on the good name established by my father and this is why since last year I am making preparation for proper presentation of the fashions we have so far prepared.

Mrs. Konul Teymurova, chairperson of the Association of the Ambassadors' Spouses and wife of the Azebaijani ambassador in Seoul (left) poses with CEO Kim Joong-do of the Andre Kim Fashion Boutique at a social function at the Russian Embassy in Seoul.

Q: We hear that you are planning your own brand launching. Would you introduce it in detail?

A: Yes, I am thinking of launching the ‘Second Brand’ of the Andre Kim Atelier. This will be a casual wear line of clothes covering the age span of 10-year-olds to the people in their 50s. They will include T shirts, sportswear and a casual wear variety. In order to add the ambience of my father, I am going to bring into them the embroidery and other patterns my father used as hits favorites. I am planning to offer an affordable price range for easier access from the consumers.

CEO Kim Jung-do of the Andre Kim Atelier (left) poses with his father, Andre Kim, on his graduation day from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul in 2008.

Q: We are hearing that you are trying to enlarge the range of your coverage, including golf wear, lingerie and umbrella. We are also wondering how your idea of expanding business to Chia is bearing fruits?

A: We are strengthening our licensing business. Things are changing so fast, every hour and every year. We must try to do our best to keep up with the trends—to fully satisfy the demand and requirements of the consumers. We are expanding our business beyond costumes to include mobile phone cases and stationery items. As for our business with China, progress is minimal at present—if not at a standstill.

The food and beverage at the Russian diplomatic function, which were excellent in quality and preparation, were prepared by the Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel. No wonder! General Manager Jay Lee of the Hotel (center) stayed at the venue all but from the beginning till the end to make sure all the guests were happy with the evening repast. At left is Korean Fashion Designer Kim Joong-do, son of the legendary Korean fashion maestro, Andre Kim, and at right is Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media.

All the same, there are a lot of people in China remembering my father, Fashion Designer Andre Kim. A lot of people used to visit our boutique in connection with my father—although the number now is not as large as it used to be. However, I would say that the situation would improve and it would be the time when I would think of venturing to enter China.

Korean fashion Maestro Andre Kim (right) poses with the then Miss USA Shawn Weatherly at a gala fashion parade hosted by Kim at the Sejong Cultural Center in Seoul on July 8, 1980.

Q: In many areas, you would share the ideas with you father. However, if we should think that you do have different point, what would it be?

A: My father, I would, concentrated on high fashions, the very highly priced ones. And this is why, I should admit, the Andre Kim fashions were limited to a certain class of people and a certain age group among the people. Now I am trying to approach the younger generations with a high brand of products and diversify the range of products to reach a wide range of age groups of people. Also, I wish to approach a wider range of categories beyond the world of fashions.

Façade of the Andre Kim Atelier Showroom in Nonhyeon-dong in the boom town of Gangnam-gu, Seoul just south of the Han River. It is located in a less-than 5-minute distance from the previous one run by his father.

Q: Some time ago, we understand you made fashions for popular songstress, Ms. Jin Joo (Pearls). What brought her to your boutique?

A: Nothing special, I would say. President of the company where Jin Joo belonged is my high school classmate. He came to me asked if I would make dresses for Jin Joo who is now making a new album. I said yes—because I was a long-time fan of Jin Joo.

An elegant evening dress adorned with an embroidery of apricot blossoms recreated with a modern eye.

Q: There have been a lot of changes in the fashion world in Korea. Please introduce the present status of the Korean fashion world and your outlook of the Korean fashion industry.

A: I would say that the fashion business in Korea is in a state of stagnation. This is because of the present tendency where the consumers tend to favor imported fashions brands rather than the domestic fashions. I would say that a lot of changes should be made if the domestic fashion circles want to survive.

An evening dress and coat ensemble done with an embroidery of a Joseon Dynasty White-Blue porcelain on the theme of apricot blossoms.

I would say that the Korean people should develop a pride in Korea’s own fashions. I should say that we should make a dual approach: One of them is high fashions. The other is the category that is easy of access to the consumers. I would like to ask our consumers to have a little bit more of interest in Korea’s own fashion brands.

A dress created on the motif of the attire of the Royal Court in Europe with a modern interpretation.
A woman’s dress (left) and man’s suit designed with a modern interpretation of the Royalty of a European country.
Andre Kim responds to a warm applause given him at his fashion parade in front of the Angkor Wat in Cambodia in 2006.

Brief biography of CEO Jungdo Kim:

2010: Formally took over the management of the Andre Kim Fashion Design Atelier following the passage of Maestro Andre Kim.

2005: Received Master's degree in Economics from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul.

2003: Received Bachelor's degree in French Language and Literature from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

1999: Graduated from Hyundai High School.

1996: Graduated from Shingu Middle School

1993: Graduated from of Hanyang Elementary School in Seoul.

Photo shows Designer Jungdo Kim and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik flanking a huge gilded clock (on the left and right) with The Korea Post Reporter Ms. Reporter Sua Kim (left) and Reporter Hwi Won (right).
Photo shows the spouses of the ambassadors wearing Andre Kim fashions at a charity fashion parade for the benefit of the unfortunate children at the Seoul City Children’s Hospital.
An article of The Korea Herald, Korea’s leading English daily, shows a headline reading, ‘Envoys’ Wives Parade Latest Fashions,’ which was written by Cultural Editor Lee Kyung-sik (now publisher-chairman of The Korea Post media) on May 17, 1980.
New Zealand Ambassador Ms. Jane Charlotte Coombs is walking in a gray herringbone suit adorned with a golden embroidery at the charity fashion show of the Andre Kim for the less fortunate people in 2008
Ambassador and Mrs. Gleb A. Ivashentsov of the Russian Federation in Seoul (2008) model Andre Kim fashions at a charity fashion parade of Andre Kim for the benefit of needy people.
Ambassador Lars Vargo and Mrs. Eva Vargo of Sweden wear Andre Kim fashions at a charity fashion show of the Andre Kim for the underprivileged people in 2008.
Ambassador Mrs. Zoila del Carmen Aguirre de May of El Salvadoris walking in a green tweed two-piece suit at the charity fashion show of the Andre Kim for the needy in 2008.
Mrs. Francoise Thiebaud (madam of the French Ambassador in Seoul) is walking in a violet fancy two-piece suit at the charity fashion show of the Andre Kim for the needy in 2008.
Ambassador Jane Charlotte Coombs of New Zealand is walking in a red dress at the charity fashion show of the Andre Kim for the needy in 2008.
Ambassador Lars Vargo of Sweden and his spouse, Madam Eva Vargo, are showing off Andre Kim fashions at a charity event in 2008. Ambassador Vargo is in a navy blue jacket and a corduroy pair of trousers while Madam Vargo is showing off a navy blue set of evening dress.

Hwi Won  edt@koeapost.com

<저작권자 © 코리아포스트, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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