My Clothes-Up: Irene Justifies Her Shoe Addiction "Problem"

We imagine that spotting a unicorn feels something like what we experienced, when we first caught sight of Irene Kim during the spring '15 shows at New York Fashion Week. With hair in a rainbow of colors — that only rivaled all the hues she pulled together with her clothes — Kim’s sartorial POV turned her into a street style star seemingly overnight. One year later, Kim is a bonafide celebrity in Seoul — with a contract with Estée Lauder as its global beauty contributor and gig on Korean television.

Kim splits her time between the United States and Korea, and zips around the globe for work. Because of that, her closet is not so much a space, but a place that houses her clothes — whether it’s her suitcase, her hotel room closet, or just a rolling rack. However, transiency can’t contain her wardrobe: The explosion of clothes, shoes, and accessories that greeted us at The Ace Hotel was pure joy.
Photographed by Nicholas Calcott.
Jean & Denim
"I’m really into this Korean brand right now called Lucky Chouette. They’re really good with their tailoring, blouses, jackets — and especially their denim. I’m wearing their baggy, cropped culottes right now.
Photographed by Nicholas Calcott.
"AllSaints makes great denim too. I wear this one pair like two to three times a week. They have a nice stretch, and they’re just the right thinness. They’re not so thin that they look and feel like leggings. They’re just super comfortable. This is actually my first pair of AllSaints jeans, and I went back into the store to buy another pair, but they were all gone. I’m still upset about that!

"I also like denim that’s a bit strange. I have this cool jean skirt from MSGM. It’s super simple from the front, and then — bam — there’s a cool crocheted patch on the back.

"Skinny jeans, baggy jeans — it doesn’t matter. I think jeans are meant to feel comfortable, and if they look good, too, then that’s a bonus. I like J Brand, and Current/Elliott. I like brands that make soft jeans.

"I like men’s jeans too. I look in the men’s section for jeans sometimes because that’s where the real boyfriend jeans are. So, I’ll try to get the smallest size, or a size up, and I’ll just fold them up. Sometimes in the men’s section, they have better washes too. It’s really good, like the ones that I’m into right now that I wear everyday are RRL, but they’re men’s. I’m also super into jumpsuits — I have three denim jumpsuits. I just bought the denim overalls from Stella McCartney and I can’t wait to wear them.”
Photographed by Nicholas Calcott.
How’s It Hanging?
"My closet is just a huge, giant mess right now. I’m traveling one or two times a month, so my closet is literally my suitcases. At home, I have a closet room — like an entire room for my clothes. And there is just so much stuff — when I organize it, it gets messy again. It’s not worth it. Maybe I’ll really tackle it when I’m home for longer than two weeks at a time. But then, I usually just stay home and eat crackers and drink soup all day."

At Home, By Yourself
"If no one else was around, I’d be walking around naked. I’m serious. Or, if I have to, I’ll wear a robe — I travel everywhere with my pink FleaMadonna robe. They’re a Korean label, too. Rihanna was just photographed wearing the whole pajama set out. Jee Kim from FleaMadonna makes really, really cool stuff. There’s a lot of underrated Korean designers that people don’t really know about."

Closet MVPs
"My Acne high-waisted jeans that I wear over and over again, because they just look so good with everything. I have my Saint Laurent boots that I wear all the time. And I’m kind of upset with them, because I got them maybe three months ago, and the sole has started to peel off. It’s like — I didn’t pay $30 for this. I paid $1,300."
Photographed by Nicholas Calcott.
Collections, Addictions, and Weaknesses
“I collect sneakers. I’m a forever Adidas fan, and when it comes down to designer sneakers, I wear the Céline slip-ons on an everyday basis. I wear the Superstars all the time. I’m not a sneakerhead, because I don’t wait in line! But sneakers just fit in with my style. I’m kind of mix-and-matchy, and always just end up dressing down. Also, I like being able to walk — especially when I’m in Korea. I’m just so much busier then, and end up wearing the same thing all the time.”
Photographed by Nicholas Calcott.
What’s Underneath
"I don’t think I really have a thing for underwear and lingerie. But yeah, I do own nice sets. I have a lot of Calvin Klein — all my bras are Calvin Klein. They’re very thin, too. I don’t like too much cushion inside. I also have a lot of Stella McCartney and Kiki de Montparnasse. I guess I do have an underwear thing?
Photographed by Nicholas Calcott.
"But all of them are very simple — nothing is really crazy. I wish there was somebody that bought it for me — maybe my assistant, Sue! I buy underwear for myself. I feel like if I’m wearing a badass outfit, and my underwear is…meh. It feels like something’s missing. I just need it in order to feel more confident. Not that I’m really going to be showing it off at the end of the night. It’s a personal thing. I didn’t really think of myself as an underwear person. I’m just discovering this side of me right now [laughs]."
Photographed by Nicholas Calcott.
The Extras
"I love accessories. I just love layering rings. I was just putting them on before you came in — oh, she’s going to be happy that you’re photographing my fingers! This is actually [by] a friend of mine — she’s in a K-pop group, and she’s launching this. I can’t tell you her name because it’s not out yet.

"It used to be ‘more is more,’ and I used to wear huge, chunky rings, but now I’m really into the skinny, delicate ones. I’m really into chokers these days. This is a really cool one from Chanel that’s really girly, and really kitty. I think it was from their Brasserie collection last season.

"I like shoes more than anything else. Whatever outfit you’re wearing — whether it’s vintage, or from Zara, or just really simple…you put on a pair of Jimmy Choos and it completely brings it up a level. You don’t get the same effect if you’re wearing a Chanel dress and a pair of flip flops. Shoes put the bow on your outfit."
Photographed by Nicholas Calcott.
Photographed by Nicholas Calcott.
“Going-Out” Clothes & The Fancy Stuff
“It’s so funny because I don’t really dress up when I go out. I dress down. If I’m just going out with my friends, I dress down. When I’m meeting my friends, it’s usually just like denim overalls and a jacket and just like easy boots and a beanie. Or even just sneakers. It’s very easy. When I’m on my time, and I go out, I definitely like to dress down a little bit, because I can’t usually if I’m doing my job at an event."
Photographed by Nicholas Calcott.
"I guess it’s because I don’t want to stand out as much. And obviously — my hair. With my hair, I can basically wear whatever I want — a plastic bag even, haha — and I’m still going to stand out. My style has been evolving ever since I came to Fashion Week last year with rainbow hair. Before, it was always about mixing and layering, and it’s not different. While it’s still colorful, it’s a little bit more toned down than before. But with my hair…I feel like I can’t get rid of it now. It’s going to stick with me until I’m 80. My grandchildren are going to be like, ‘Oh, who’s going to be the one to tell her that she should retire it,’ kind of thing… You know what? I’m going to just tell them I that was born with rainbow hair.”
Photographed by Nicholas Calcott.

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